A complaint that we receive frequently from homeowners is that their chimney is “leaning” away from the home and would like for us to come out and take a look at it. Most often when we go out to look at such problems, what we find is not so much a chimney problem as it is a foundational issue. Brick chimneys that are pulling away from the home and taking brick with it are usually the result of the foundation shifting or settling significantly. These problems should be addressed by an engineer who can take a look at the home at a structural level and decide if the shifting of the foundation is reparable from the perspective of fixing the chimney and also from the perspective of any other damage that occurred as a result of the settling.
Often times a leaning brick chimney creates cracks in the brick on the home itself where the chimney is pulling away from. There are a few options that you have when it comes to such a situation, depending on what your structural engineer has to say. You may get away with using braces to brace the chimney back to the home. Such heavy braces can be expensive and are unsightly. You may also consider the option of removing the chimney, capping the chimney off, and relaying the brick against the house.
For the cracked brick surrounding the rebuild area, you will need to seal any damage to prevent further damage from occurring.
Apply a high silicon caulking to the actual crack to fill it. Some products are specified for certain sized cracks, so be sure to decide what type of brick repair product you need before purchasing it. ChimneySaver CrackMagik is recommended for sealing cracks up to 1/8″ wide.
Also, for situations where the structural settling has caused cracking in the brick outside of the repair area, it is wise to waterproof seeing that although no visible damage may have occurred the bricks themselves and the mortar joints holding them together may have weakened. A water repellent that allows the brick to breathe or that does not form a film is the most desirable water repellent for brick structures. Water repellents that form films can actually trap vapors inside, causing spalling to occur. Brick water repellents should be water based, generally, if there has been no prior application of a water repellent to the brick and solvent based if a water repellent has been previously applied. Using a water repellent over areas repaired with ChimneySaver CrackMagik is one way to lengthen the life of the repair and increase the integrity of your chimney overall.