Brick on Chimney Vs Brick on the Rest of the Home

A chimney, by code, projects high above the roofline. This brick above the roofline has no protection whatsever from the elements from other areas of the house. There is nothing to protect it from the driving winds or precipitation. The difference of deterioration between the brick above the roofline and the brick on the rest of the home is often very distinguishable. As your home ages, it will become apparent that brick on the chimney has suffered more damage than the rest of your brick.

Rainfall soaks the brick on your chimney, and if the climate you live in experiences any freezing weather through the year, you can certainly count on some freezing and thawing damage to the brick. Moisture that seeps into the brick from rainfall, snowfall, or even just vapors in the air will expand and contract significantly enough to cause cracks that will worsen with each new freezing and thawing cycle. Remember that brick has a small percentage of moisture that occurs naturally. This moisture needs to be able to exit the brick freely to prevent spalling (the face of the brick popping off). Be sure that if you water proof the chimney you use a product that forms a semi permeable membrane around the brick such that it will not trap the vapors inside, setting the stage for spalling to occur.

Chimney crowns are another particularly susceptible area for damage, especially since most crowns in the United States have been improperly constructed in the first place. A crown constructed from mortar will not have the same strength as a crown constructed from concrete. Sometimes, bricklayers will construct a crown improperly due to lack of knowledge, but under no circumstances should a crown be a simple layer of mortar on the top of a chimney. Cracks are a part of life that are almost assuredly going to appear and require repair.

Concrete is made of cement, stones, sand, and water. Stones in this concoction add strength incomparable to a crown made of mortar alone. Concrete should be the material that your crown is structured from. Similarly, if an expansion space between the crown and the flue liner is not left, cracks are, again, almost certain to occur. As the moisture present in the crown expands and contracts the crown needs room to expand and contract as well. If no expansion joint is left, the pressure that builds will cause cracks to occur.