My dad hired a tuckpointer to rebuild a brick chimney, maybe a little larger
than typical residential as it services a small multi-unit building built in
the 1920's. The width on all sides is 4 bricks of standard size. The
original chimney was about 25 courses of brick and about every 5th or 6th
course the bricks would be turned sideways to tie the inner and outer layers
of brick together.
I went to look at the job today. About 10 or 12 courses of brick are in
place and none of the bricks are turned sideways.
The top 6 courses of brick were single layer, and his worker had told me
he'd be putting the inner bricks in place later. Sure enough, the
tuckpointer says he lays about 6 courses of outer brick, then lays the inner
brick, and tying it together with wire.
I'd like to know if its acceptable practice to rebuild a brick chimney in
this manner, and if so, is it preferable to rebuild it in the original
manner (with some of the bricks turned sideways.) TIA
I'm not a builder but have been involved with the construction of my own
That sounds like standard construction for a cavity wall (here in the UK at
least) the wire is called a "wall tie" and I believe in the UK the codes
(regulations) require it to be stainless steel to prevent it rusting.
Earlier versions of our regs allowed galvanised steel.
There is a possible reason for doing it this way instead of using tie
bricks....tar/oil deposits can form on the inside of the chimney if you are
burning wood. This can soak right through bricks and stain plasterwork. It
won't cross a cavity wall tie though. Make sure he keeps the cavity free of
"snots". He should really knock off any mortar that falls into the cavity
and lands on a wall tie bridging the cavity.
On a new cobstruction we would probably use a pumice block liner on the
inside instead of brick as this is a better insulator. An insulated chimney
runs hotter and draws better with fewer deposits forming. The alternative is
to build in brick, then insert a stainless steel liner and fill the void
around it with some form of special fireproof insulator.
I'm reasonably sure similar thinking will apply in the USA.
Horizontal joint reinforcing is o.k.
I would like to know how the inner brick is placed.
Six courses is about 16 inches deep, so it sounds like he is not
placing the brick carefully.
There should have been a specification or careful description of the
Inner brick is being placed by reaching in. The bricklayer on site told me
he lays some outer courses first so that it will be straight. Scaffolding
is set in place, so its not hard to reach down six courses.
Well, I went to the jobsite this morning, and the inner layer was not
level with the outer layer! The worker on site told me he'd get the
layers even by cutting down the last row of bricks... OMG!
The contractor came by a little later and tried to convince me that
tying together the layers would be fine. I explained they were
uneven. When I asked how he would tie them together, being they were
uneven, he started yelling at me asking what I knew about
bricklaying. Then literally stacked bricks on the ground to show him
what I meant by uneven.
Then he threw up his hands and said he'd be taking down the chimney
and doing it again. I told him I wanted it done with stretcher bricks
every sixth course, which is the way it was originally. Fortunately,
I took several pictures of the chimney before it came down, and gave
him a couple of pictures so he could see what I meant.
Another thing his worker did, was to stack the bricks dry. These are
the original chimney bricks, over 80 years old, so there is some
deterioration. I asked him why his worker didn't spray the surface of
the bricks to moisten them, he said the mortar holds better on a dry
brick... That doesn't sound right to me.
So, since old bricks with some spalling are being reused, do I still
want them moistened before being mortared?
(1) Why did you hire a tuck pointer to do a bricklayers job?
(2) When he started yelling at you, why did you not fire his ass?
you are paying him to do a job for you. Don't take any shit from your
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