Cracks in Chimney Bricks: Repair or Replace?


Old 04-30-15, 09:07 PM
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Cracks in Chimney Bricks: Repair or Replace?

One of my chimneys was recently repointed. The contractor was supposed to replace any bricks that needed to be replaced down to three courses from the top. When I recently went up on the roof, I discovered that bricks in the second and third courses were not replaced and still have cracks. Photos (with close-up) are below.

Contractor is balking at tearing down the courses (and is not a bad guy, did other work on the house at a decent price)--so I'm wondering whether those bricks actually need to be replaced or whether they can just be filled in. Or maybe there's some other solution.

Thank you very much for any input you can give.

(Not sure if relevant but, the chimney is on an exterior wall. I live in Maryland, so it can get kind of cold and snowy at times.)

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Old 05-01-15, 03:54 AM
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I'm a painter, not a mason but I wouldn't think they'd need replacing, I'd use a clear latex caulk to fill the cracks. Some of the others might have a better suggestion
Old 05-01-15, 12:28 PM
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Trashing the poor masonry cap and replacement of a new one with an overhang and a "drip" line that is 1/2" to 1" outside of the brick face could return it to the way it should have been in the first place.

Many masonry suppliers offer caps with proper drips for common size flues and chimney sizes.

That keeps the water from constantly running down the chimney face that saturates it 24/7/365 and leads to severe weathering.

Old 05-01-15, 05:55 PM
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Does your written contract for the chimney work specifically state that cracked bricks will be replaced? If so, you need to drag him back to complete the work that he agreed to do. Or give you a partial refund, so you can find someone else to do the job properly.

Just between you, me and the wall, the workmanship of your contractor is very suspect. Slopping mortar all over brick faces during tuck-pointing is a very clear sign of someone not skilled in masonry work. As is the gyppo mortared crown on top--it should be made of concrete, not mortar, and as Dick said, with drip edges on underside cantilevers on all 4 sides. Your guy has probably been getting away with sloppy work for a long time, because he thinks no one will ever bother going up on the roof upon completion to inspect the finished product.
Old 05-02-15, 02:20 PM
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To marksr, Concretemasonry and Bridgeman45 -- Thank you all very much for your replies. This educates me a lot.

I removed the chimney cap before I took the photos (b/c I needed to look down the flue to check out another issue). I've attached a photo with the cap on (taken from ground level).

Since the crown doesn't overhang the sides of the chimney, would it be a good idea to get a bigger chimney cap that does overhang the sides? I'm guessing so.

Also, I'm wondering how much work it would take to replace those cracked bricks. Can they be extracted and replaced without first having to take off the courses of bricks above them?

Thank you all again. Your responses were so helpful.

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Old 05-05-15, 03:23 AM
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i wouldn't be using any 'caulk' on those brick,,, we often find that type of repr & it shows from 3 blocks away,,, agree w/proper cap but we usually bld it in place rather than haul up such a heavy weight on a ladder w/o crane,,, all it takes is 1 slip & a man gets hurt or worse,,, find someone who's skilled in tuckpointing,,, looks like your cracked brick's the result of poor maintenance

its not difficult work but does take someone to show you the proper way to repoint,,, defending contractors who don't do what's contracted is interesting & says as much about the buyer as it does the contractor imo
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