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Chimney Repair – Some Factors To Consider

‘If I were having someone come out and rebuild my chimney (because I do not want to come home and rebuild my own chimney – I’d rather be on a warm beach with a beer…) there would be certain points I would look out for based upon my personal experience in rebuilding chimneys:

1. Is the company licensed, bonded and insured, and if it is sending over employees to do the work, does the company have verifiable workman’s compensation insurance in place and in force? Make sure the policy is in force. If the contractor is using sub-contractors, the same rule applies (licensed, bonded and insured) and they need to have workman’s comp on their employees as well.

2. I would not have the chimney rebuilt during hot weather for a few reasons:

A. You run the risk of flash set, which is when the mortar sets up to fast. This results in a faulty bond to the brick, which will more than likely fail. Walking around on a composition roof in hot weather can loosen up the particle of the shingles and therefore damage the shingles. We have prevented this from happening by constantly spraying down the roof with water. We also avoid this type of damage by not doing masonry work at 90 degrees or warmer conditions.

B. Often times we rebuild chimneys with the original brick. We clean the old mortar off of the bricks and re-lay them. If the original brick are brittle, then we use new brick. The test for brittle brick is hitting them with a hammer; if they snap easily then they are brittle. sometimes old bricks are very porous and act like a sponge where water is concerned. What this means is that when you re-lay them they pull the moisture out of the new mortar being laid, which causes the mortar to set up too fast. Think flash set. You have two choices with this situation, which are use new brick or soak the bricks for about an hour in a bucket of water. This is time-consuming and can effect the cost of the job.

C. Laying brick in cold weather can be done when precautions are taken. Click on the flash set link above for more data on working in cold weather. If the job is going to be done in cold weather, or the weather is going to drop near freezing or below, then precautions must be taken to prevent freeze damage to the project.

Photo of a chimney with loose brick.

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