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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Olde Towne, Portsmouth VA
    Posts
    3

    Default replacing brick chimneys

    I live in a 170 year old, Federal period house. I need to consider replacing the chimneys, which have been coated with cement to make them last a little longer. A brick mason has expressed concern that if the mortar is bad up top (the chimney in the back is leaning 6-8" toward neighbor's house which is 4' away) the mortar throughout the entire chimney structure will be similarly crumbling. (He did acknowldge that the mortar on the front and sides appear to be original - you can see bits of oyster shell - and not in need of replacement.)

    Is it possible to replace just the chimney above the roofline and not worry about it being put on top of crumbling mortar for the 4 stories below? If my attachement comes through, you'll see that I have a basement, attic and 2 stories (I count that as 4 stories).

    Sorry, could not attach the image. Kept getting an "invaalid image" message inspite of saving in .jpg and .tif

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: replacing brick chimneys

    Consult with a Structural Engeener that is familiar with Historical structures.
    The soft mortar and bricks most likly can be saved.
    The cement coating has to be removed as it is the cause for most of the failure when applied over brick of this age with the softer mortar original used.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: replacing brick chimneys

    You need to do something here- that chimney might not make a nice addition to your neighbors roof (unless they wanted a skylight where it lands)

    You need a mason who has dealt with this kind if thing before. Older bricks and mortars are not like today's. The mason you saw already was right- there could be issues with all the mortar since it is all the same age and made the same way. But just because it could be bad doesn't mean that it is; and this is where knowledgeable experience makes all the difference. If there have been any historical renovations nearby, go ask those homeowners who did their masonry work. Chances are that one name will be heard much more frequently than all the others since this is a specialty area of expertise.

    A structural engineer is essentially a waste of money if you can find knowledgeable craftsmen who actually know what is going on instead of having only read about it and seen some of the effects. I would resort to that only if the previous search didn't turn up someone I felt very confident using for the job.

    Phil

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,084

    Default Re: replacing brick chimneys

    I agree with Phil here: call an old time fireplace masons. Yes they still exist.

    I've once built a new home with 3 wood burning fireplaces. I called a retired mason who agreed to come out of his retirement and do the job. And he was extremely reasonable. Just watching him do it was worth the money. No plans, no diagrams. Don't need those. Just 100% perfect results.

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