How to Restore a Crumbling Chimney

Shannon Lee

A fireplace can be the heart-warming focal point of your home, but what good does it do if the chimney isn't safe? If your crumbling chimney is threatening to put a halt to your romantic fireplace light, there are a few surefire ways to restore it to like-new condition.

10 Steps to Restore Your Crumbling Chimney

  1. Start by taking a good look at your chimney. Have a buddy nearby when you climb the ladder, and take your camera with you. Take clear photographs of what you're dealing with up there.
  2. Discuss the problem with a brick mason. They know exactly what is wrong and how to fix it. You might be able to fix it yourself, but a brick mason can tell you for sure.
  3. If the problem lies with crumbling mortar around the chimney flue or a deteriorating chimney crown, you can probably fix this yourself. Gather the materials you need, depending upon the size of your chimney and the work that needs to be done. Again, take the brick mason's advice on repair materials.
  4. For a quick repair of the crumbling mortar, remove the crown of the chimney, then the top few layers of brick. Remove the flue liners down to the first mortar joint.
  5. Replace the flue liners with new ones, mortaring them carefully in place. Put new bricks in place of the crumbling ones, taking care to mortar them securely.
  6. Using a sheet of galvanized steel, build a form for the new crown. Keep in mind that the new crown should have edges that extend at least 1 1/2 inches from the face of the bricks, and have a drip groove molded into the underside.
  7. Place reinforcing mesh and liners wrapped in cardboard in the form. Fill the form with concrete that has been mixed with nylon fibers. If you aren't sure how to do this or where to find the materials, call up your trusty masonry professional and ask for guidance.
  8. When you pull away the form and wash everything clean, treat the chimney top with a water repellent. Make sure it's not a sealant--you want moisture to be able to escape.
  9. Use a heavy-duty cap over each flue to keep out water, provide a deterrent for animals, and keep the sparks inside.
  10. Every year or so, check your chimney for signs of crumbling. Use new water repellent every 10 years, or more often if you are in a particularly moist climate.

About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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