Suggestion on chimney repair

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Old 04-13-13, 04:16 PM
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Suggestion on chimney repair

I need to fix my fireplace chimney so it won't be a problem to sell my house. So I am not looking to spend a lot of money on it.
First photo is the full view:
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As you see from right and from left, you can see cracks alone, and straight down the middle through bricks
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Name:  chimney_right_Top.jpg
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I would like to ask what options I have? Totally tear off and rebuild? (it only seem top above roof has problem.)
I guess its hard to replace only middle of the bricks, there are many of them and structure may not hold?
Use mortar/clement to wrap the whole chimney and paint it?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 04-13-13, 05:12 PM
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Bricks can be removed and mortared back in place without tearing the whole chimney down, although it looks like you have quite a number of damaged ones. But it looks like the crown is a simple mortar wash, so any repairs would be short term without addressing that first. The crown should be concrete, not mortar, sloped away from the flue, a couple inches thick, and, although styles and opinions can vary, should overhang the bricks by at least an inch or two. If you were to look at the top of what you have now, I would bet that you will find that it is cracked, and that there is separation between it and the top row of caps, meaning that water has a constant path into the bricks.
 
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Old 04-13-13, 05:35 PM
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One problem about replacing the brick, the size of the brick is kinda odd. Actual size is 3x 2 1/4 x 8. I visit two local brick yard and can't find this size.
 
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Old 04-13-13, 06:12 PM
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Root of problem

This may seem like a silly question but could it have been struck by lightning?
Under normal wear and tear bricks should not crack.
Pedro may be right about the cap, if water is penetrating the top and freezing
Inside the brick the weaker bricks could break.
 
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Old 04-13-13, 08:19 PM
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If it were mine, I'd get a few estimates for professional repairs from qualified masons in the area. Then put the place up for sale, offering to take the average estimate number off of the selling price if the buyer (or his home inspector) notice the problems. The buyer may want to make repairs himself, or completely replace the chimney with a different style/color brick.
 
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Old 04-14-13, 05:01 AM
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A little out of my area of expertise but around here they often stucco over the old brick on a failing chimney to give it new life.
 
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Old 04-14-13, 11:00 AM
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Stucco applied over crumbling brick is not likely to adhere very well. Unless a base of mesh is first anchored into the brick where it's sound enough that the anchors won't pull out. Lots of work, with much of it high in the air.
 
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Old 04-15-13, 10:55 AM
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I agree with Bridgeman45, an estimate would be a good idea.

I think a lot of your problems are with the corbeled brick at the cap. the top brick should not be a brick at all but rather cut stone or at least a sealed concrete. As a retrofit you could cover it with prefinished sheet metal.

I also think that the way the brick was tooled is part of your problem. I may be wrong but it looks like the entire chimney has a racked joint (mortar set back from the face of the brick) in lieu of a concave tooled joint (traditional curved mortar face right at the face of the brick). The racked joint makes the brick pop out and creates a nice texture that some people like but it also creates hunderds of 1/2" ledges for water to sit on and work it's way into the masonry.

The estimate would give you an idea of what corrections might cost, what your options might be, and it would get a mason out to the house to take a good look at the situation.
 
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Old 04-15-13, 01:26 PM
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I believe the correct term is "raked" instead of "racked." And I don't think it contributed (much) to the visible brick deterioration--thousands of homes and buildings around the country have brick with raked joints, and are performing well. I've lived in several houses having raked brick joints, one in a severe climate (Wisconsin), and neither of them experienced the problems the OP is having. Rather, the problems shown appear to be related to bricks that were either not severe weather grade (meaning they were fired at lower temps, and for a shorter period of time), or simply a batch of defective bricks.
 
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Old 04-16-13, 02:29 PM
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I would agree that the brick type (as well as several other factors) do have an affect on the durability of a masonry wall. However I still contend that raked joints (sorry about my earlier error on the spelling) are not suitable for exterior walls. A quick internet search would appear to support this belief.
Weather-resistant joints - Brick, Masonry Construction, Waterproofing, Joints - Masonry Construction

Raked joints can and do perform well in thousands of examples but they are a maintenance risk that is not worth the trouble in my opinion.
 
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