1985 Chimney with significant gaps, voids and cracks

We are finding a significant percentage of chimneys from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, including this one from 1985 have cracks and voids in the chimney flue which can cause a house fire. Recently, Rachel Ray’s home burnt down for this reason, even though she was getting her chimneys swept. If you have not had a video inspection of your chimney in the last few years, it might be worth checking on it. Learn more at Chimney Inspections.

Chimney repair vs rebuild

This is repair we did 4 years ago.

We didn’t rebuild the chimney, but patched it. If you look closely, we colored the patch in bricks to make repair nearly unnoticeable. This is a relatively inexpensive repair, much less than rebuild. With regular maintenance this chimney could last quite a while, but without maintenance, water could continue to get in, moisten the rebar which rusts, expands and breaks bricks and mortar joints.


Cracks Inside Chimneys that are Hazardous

This is a video of a home in San Juan Capistrano that is approximately 40 years old.  All 3 chimneys had severe cracks and gaps in the chimney flue.  This is a severe fire hazard if the fireplaces are used to burn wood or gas fires. 

If you are purchasing a home that was built over 20 years ago, don’t take a chance that the chimney will not have gaps. Approximately 40% of the homes that were built in the 1980s and earlier have cracks and gaps within the chimney flues.  Regular home inspectors do not inspect the chimneys with a video camera and as a result most of the cracks are not detected.  Approximately 15,000 homes per year in the U.S. have home fires which start in the fireplace/chimney.


Chimney Brick Repair

Here is some before, during and after pictures of bricks repaired on a chimney.

chimney brick repair

Rebuilding the Chimney Crown

Rebuilding the chimney crown and fixing exterior cracks in chimneys.  It is important to get minor problems repaired before they become major expensive repairs.

rebuilding the chimney crown

Badly cracked up chimney bricks

These cracks are caused by rebar originally installed during construction to give strength to the chimney. Lack of maintenance, waterproofing, allowed moisture to penetrate to rebar and the expansion rusting rebar shatters chimney bricks. Extensive cracking due to lack of maintenance. Because chimney bricks are porous, water can soak through to rebar. Metal as it rusts, expands and blows up bricks. 

cracked chimney bricks

Cracked Chimney Repair

It is really important to repair your chimney as soon as cracks appear. Having cracks in your chimney can lead to water leaks, smoke issues and dangers during an earthquake.

Here is a before and after of a cracked masonry chimney repair we did.


Masonry chimney repairs are important

It is important to repair your chimney as soon as cracks appear. Here is a before and after of a masonry chimney repair we did.

Masonry chimney repair

Cracks in a firebox

We get calls frequently about cracks in a firebox.  Cracks depending on where they are and what type of cracking can be potentially hazardous situations or insignificant.  There are about 3 different construction types of fireplaces employed in the last 70-80 years. A virtual assessment can often determine the severity of the situation and type of construction. 

Cracks in a fireboxThis picture shows a fireplace built probably prior to 1980 or so, where there were cracks inside the firebox top front opening. One can see staining where heat was traveling toward the wood combustibles.  Someone removed the lintel and bricks of the the façade (incidentally a terrible idea as someone was looking to remodel).  So, some cracks are potentially dangerous, while others not so much.  But a virtual assessment can often determine the necessity for an in person inspection.

Chimney reline to address cracks and hazards in the flue

Cracks-and-voids-in-a-flueThere are several methods available.  The method we use has several advantages.  It is less expensive than a metal liner and the spray on solutions some companies use.   It is very strong and durable and cannot be brushed out with steel wire brushes.

Another advantage is that the HeatShield® system does not significantly decrease draft like a steel liner does.  A decrease in draft might cause the combustion gases to spill into the house.  HeatShield® is a specially formulated “Cerfractory®” sealant material that restores the integrity of your chimney’s flue to vent hazardous flue gases from your home. It eliminates the dangers in your chimney caused by gaps, cracks, and spalling for years to come. By using either the Repair System or the CeCure® Sleeve Relining System (depending on the defects found) your chimney will be restored to its original peak level of safety and efficiency.