Randy Sloss is the Mason for Mosby Building Arts, following in the footsteps of his mason father and grandfather. Along with brick, stone and tuckpointing work, he spends a lot of time on roofs looking at chimneys. Learn about brick chimney leaks, repair and maintenance directly from the expert.
75% of brick chimneys on homes built before 1990 need some type of repair, and 50% of those need to be torn down and replaced.
Homeowners usually need to replace a chimney because by the time a chimney has a problem that you notice – like water leaks that have made it to your interior or it’s dramatically leaning – it’s already too far gone for repair.
Chimneys are constantly exposed to weather and take a beating on all sides, and mortar eventually turns to sand when constantly exposed to water. Chimneys are more vulnerable than the brick and mortar walls of your home which are afforded some protection by roof overhangs, or being opposite the direction of the incoming rain. A chimney gets rained on, no matter what.
Because a chimney is high on the roof, it’s more difficult to notice the details of its condition. We recommend regular, preventive maintenance to save money in the long run and avoid the real damage that is done when a chimney falls over.
Preventive maintenance includes regularly inspecting the chimney mortar, which should be flush with the brick. If the mortar is deeply indented it’s time to tuckpoint. But understand that tuckpointing is cosmetic waterproofing; it is in no way a structural solution to a crooked, leaning or wobbling stack.
Regularly check the concrete cap atop the chimney for cracks or decay (similar to that shown above). Quite often when you notice water leaking inside from the chimney it’s because the chimney cap has cracked. If the rest of the chimney is in good shape, replacing the cap will take care of the problem. But a cracked concrete cap left unattended will destroy the entire chimney from the inside out.
A few words of caution: no caulking, please. Caulk is too often used as a fast and cheap way to fix chimney problems. Truth is, it won’t work for long if it works at all. Tuckpointing and cap replacement are about the only sound ways to repair a leaking brick chimney.
If your chimney is visibly leaning (and they always lean in toward the house, without fail) that means the structure has failed and it will eventually just topple over. You don’t want to ever experience the damage a collapsed brick chimney causes. Replacing the chimney is the only safe and sound decision.
We take down the original chimney to the roofline and rebuild it with new brick and mortar, topping it with a new concrete cap. A Mosby chimney replacement automatically comes with a 10-year workmanship warranty. So does any Mosby repair to your chimney. It’s our way of standing behind the quality of the work we do. And in the case of your brick chimney, you’ll be part of that select 25% with strong, water-tight chimneys.
For any masonry needs around your home, call Mosby Building Arts at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.