Often times your chimney rebuild can be accomplished using the original brick, which is preferrable. Brick sizes and colors change and can become unavailable over time; when forced to use new brick, a mismatch occurs if only a portion of the visible chimney is rebuilt. We have found that we cannot use the original brick if they have become brittle over time (they break easily when you tap them with a hammer.) When the chimney comes into disrepair due to freeze damage, then we have to use new brick because the mortar is often still extremely hard, which makes it difficult to remove the mortar with a brick hammer. When re-using the original brick, they have to be in good physical shape, not brittle, and the original mortar has to be relatively easy to remove with a brick hammer.
When new brick are called for, the pattern of the chimney brickwork may be somewhat altered due to new bricks being somewhat shorter in length. That means that we have to cut “plugs” to place into the row of brick to maintain a uniform witdth of verticle mortar joints between the bricks. The photos below show a chimney we rebuilt using the original brick.
Note: We have been able to import specialty used brick to match up to existing brick. The photo below shows a style of brick known as “klinker” brick, which we had shipped in from Missouri.
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Can you match the new mortar to the existing mortar?
There is an extensive color palette of mortar dyes available in the industry that we use to match mortar colors. We can adjust colors to match new mortar to existing, aged mortars.
How is the roof protected during the rebuild process?
Usually we lay down movers blankets around the chimney to protect the roof; there are situations where we cannot to so. In this case, we are continuously cleaning up any fallen mortar and rinsing down the roof as needed. At the end of each work day we use a light solution of muriatic acid to rinse down any lime stains at the end of the evening.
What about extreme weather conditions?
There are certain methods of cold-weather construction that we use to ensure proper setting of mortar. For hot weather, we wrap our work with a drip soaker hose and leave it running overnite to keep the structure moist.
Should the chimney be waterproofed?
We standardly waterproof all of our masonry work that is exposed to the elements. When painting the chimney is desirable, we use Sherwin Williams Masonry Paint or their Super Paint, as we have never had a failure of the products. We use a siloxane-based waterproofing agent that dries clear and is good for 10 years; however, due to our weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest, we recommend re-application every 9 years.
What about painting the chimney?
Over the years we have seen chimneys that looked great when painted. We have also seen painted chimneys that were painted to hide the condition of disrepair the chimney was in. Paint can hide all sorts of defects from the untrained eye, such as need for a chimney rebuild. Another point to bring up is poor preparation, shoddy painting and use of the wrong paint. All of this adds up to a paint job that fails and begins to peel away. To remove this mess is a nightmare, so if you are going to paint the chimney, do it right. It is critical that you have any chimney repairs done prior to painting, and they need to be done by someone who knows what they are doing. We use Sherwin Williams products excusively, as we have never had a failure with their products. Specifically, for primer we use Loxon Concrete & Masonry Primer/Sealer when a paint primer is called for; we use SuperPaint Exterior Acrylic Latex to paint the chimneys.
Once you paint a chimney, count on painting it again every 10 years or so.