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DIY Home Maintenance: Chimney Repairs

One of the most common repairs needed on a chimney is fixing the crumbling mortar between the brick joints. Luckily, this home repair is fairly simple to do, even for the basic DIY-er. Just follow these simple steps.

Replacing Mortar
Before you get started, you'll want to have these tools on hand:

  • Masonry hammer and chisel
  • Cement-mixing container
  • Spray bottle
  • Trowel
  • Tuck-pointing tool

Also, don't forget about your safety. If your roof is especially steep or high or if your chimney is near the edge of your roof, use a safety harness. Always wear goggles and gloves. When you replace mortar, it is best to start from the bottom of your chimney (where the chimney meets the roof or flashing) and work your way up.

Step 1 Using your hammer and chisel, remove a few feet of the mortar at a time

Step 2 In your cement-mixing container, mix your mortar with water by following the instructions on the mortar package

Step 3 Spray some water onto the joints; this will help the old mortar adhere better to the new mortar

Step 4 Load up your new mortar onto the bottom of your trowel

Step 5 Holding the trowel directly below the joint you're filling and against the chimney, use your tuck-pointing tool to fill as much mortar into the joint as you can until it is flush with the bricks

Step 6 Avoid getting mortar onto the bricks as much as possible

Step 7 After letting it dry for a half hour, remove any excess mortar from the bricks

Step 8 To avoid any cracks caused by the mortar drying too quickly, spray the joints again with water

Rebuilding the Crown
Another simple repair you can make to your chimney is rebuilding a deteriorating crown. For this job, you will need:

  • Masonry nails
  • A form built to fit around your chimney
  • Mixed cement

Step 1 Construct a form and secure it to the top of your chimney using masonry nails; your chimney liner should extend at least two inches above your crown

Step 2 Pour the cement into the form; make sure it has a slope so that the water can drain away from your chimney

Step 3 When the concrete has set, remove the form

Major Damage
If your chimney is exceptionally damaged or deteriorating and you don't use your fireplace that often, you may want to consider getting rid of it. Chimney removal is often much cheaper than extensive repairs. However, if you do decide to repair the problem, get it done quickly and by a professional. A deteriorating chimney can pose a safety hazard to you, your family and your neighbors.


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