Concrete Chimney Cap – Cracked or Damaged

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Published: February 12, 2014 Last Updated: July 20, 2014

Chimney cap (crown)

Masonry and stone chimneys usually have a concrete top, called a cap or crown, to help shed water off of the top of the chimney area. Chimney caps are designed to keep water from entering into the chimney’s walls or cavities, which will cause deterioration of the masonry or mortar. They also help to keep rainwater from entering the space between the flue tile liner and the masonry face brick.

Cracks in the chimney cap

It is not uncommon for cracks to develop in this concrete cap. When these cracks occur, water may penetrate and pass into the chimney itself. These cracks get worse over time, especially in areas that experience freezing and thawing. When water gets into these cracks and freezes, it expands causing more damage or widening to the cracks.

A good chimney cap will have steel rebar in it. When the moisture reaches the rebar, it tends to rust, and as it rusts, it expands. This expansion then causes more cracking and spalling to the chimney cap.

Patching and repair

The repairing or sealing of these chimney caps is usually a very easy task and seldom costly. Generally, chimney cap patching or repair should be considered part of the home maintenance program.

While check the chimney top for cracks, also check the following (links below):

1. Is there a rain cap and spark arrestor on the chimney? If not what are the risk ? 

2. If the chimney is cracked you want to have it inspected; there are 3 levels of inspections.

3. Has the mortar between the brick or stone deteriorated, then should you do “Repointing?”

4. If the chimney is leaning or bowed, then it may be due to structural issues.

Who to consult? Fireplace contractor or qualified handyman.

Home owners will often seal or repair their own concrete chimney cracks . Fireplace contractors or qualified handymen can easily and inexpensively do this type of work.

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What if the seller was aware because he also was involved in the remodeling? Can we hold him and his contractor liable? We have a $450,000 loan owing on a house now?

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