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Masonry Tip: Chimneys

So many great homes feature chimneys. Winter is coming both fall and winter tend to bring wind, rain, snow, and more across the country. Houses with chimneys will soon be using the beautiful and functional fireplaces to keep homes warm and maybe even roast some marshmallows over the flames during a storm.

No matter how beautiful a fireplace or chimney is, they are often lacking one thing: a crown. The crown of a chimney is much like the roof of a house. It protects the inside of the chimney from damage from rain, snow, and debris. While it’s rare for rain or snow to fall at a perfect angle to fall into the fireplace, it is likely that wind will buffet it onto the wall of the chimney and no one needs that. Such events can cause horrible damage to the structure.

The crown of a chimney can be metal, concrete, or other materials. The problem is not many bricklayers or masons know how to construct one properly, but more people in this profession should take into account the importance of a chimney crown. It should be sloped to guide the water away from the chimney and ideally, a metal flashing pan should be placed below the crown to catch anything the crown did not catch.

If you have a home with a chimney without a crown, act fast! You or the mason you have hired should inspect the top portion of the chimney for any damaged or rotted bricks and rebuild when needed. Do not allow for the crown to touch the clay flue liners and use the proper urethane caulk for the gap between the crown and the liner. Keep the crown extending at least 3 inches beyond the chimney.

Once the crown is in place, it is useful to attach galvanized wire lath to the blocks and reapply stucco. Do not simply add stucco on top of the existing stucco because any cracks already present will just seep into the new surface and you’ll be back at square one, stick with the wire method mentioned earlier.

It is starting to get cold in certain parts of the country, so inspect your chimney now. Ideal temperatures for chimney work is between 40 and 70 degrees, striving for cloud coverage and low wind. This will keep supplies at optimal performance and keep workers comfortable. Read this article for some more detail.

You can learn how to do tasks like this and more by signing up for our online courses for Masonry and Bricklaying certification, for both the apprentice and master levels. Check out our website to learn mor about how you can start your new satisfying career today!