Chimney breaking down

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Hi Steve, and welcome back!

You have had an especially tough winter, I’ve heard. This is all repairable (except for the door handles, see below).

From your first photo, it looks like the DuraTech cap may be loose as well. If that’s the case, you’ll want to lift it off, then break up what’s left of your concrete crown if you installed one. (The crown is a layer of concrete on top of the brick. It is sloped downward to the edges so water runs off the edges rather than seeps down into the mortar joints.)

Remove loose bricks, brush to clean up the surfaces, then mix up refractory mortar (NOT plain old Type S mortar) and re-lay the brick. Use more refractory to make a chimney crown, then use the same kind of silicone sealant that originally came with your DuraTech cap to set it back in place.

The cracks are easily repaired with a latex stucco patch and a putty knife. Wet them with your masonry sponge (not sopping, just a good damp) and then use the knife to smooth the stucco product into all the cracks, then feather it out. The patch has texture in it that will come close to matching your stucco.

As for the interior, I’d be very careful about doing what you suggest. Picking at one piece of mortar can inadvertently lead to pulling out a chunk, or starting a slow-motion avalanche over multiple fires that ends with mortar in your food.

The door handles need to be replaced if they burned so badly that they fell off. The replacement kit is exactly the same as the one that came with your doors, and it includes hardware. I know that BrickWood has got a new design in its early stages that will ship sometime before the end of the year, but it looks like you really love cooking in your oven and you’ve lost the use of your door until you fix it.


I’ve talked about a chimney crown above. That really belongs here as well, because the lack of one combined with high heat and freeze-thaw cycles is what led to the mortar joints failing.

Here’s a couple of other things you should do to avoid a repeat of these issues:

  • Paint the outside of your oven. It looks like bare stucco from the photo, and that will not stand up to the elements at all. You need a good outdoor deck or patio paint, applied annually. I use a roller and brush, and make sure to get in at the joints top (around chimney) and bottom (around base).
  • Waterproof your chimney and exposed brick. Use a masonry sealant that’s food safe.
  • Rule of thumb for your door: it’s meant to retain heat for baking, and should never be used for building a hot pizza-grade fire.

It’s clear from the photos that you really love your oven and are getting a lot of use out of it! Give it a little maintenance love and you’ll continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

Good luck and feel free to ask further questions.

Thanks Matt! I didn’t expect a response to quickly! A couple questions I had:

  1. High temperature mortar. I know that I can mix my own- but I only need a small amount. Would the menards “Akona refractor mortar work?” Or is there other commercial brand you recommend?

  2. How thick do I make the concrete crown? 1/2 inch using the high temp mortar?

  3. I assume something like this for the stucco patch?:
    Quikrete 5.5 oz Indoor and Outdoor Stucco Crack Repair - Ace Hardware

  4. I had stucco on the outside with sealer- but it sounds like painting is probably the best way to go? I actually didn’t realize that I should have applied the sealer to the firebrick/chimney- I only applied to the stucco. I assume this is the one you would recommend:
    Eco Advance Organic Masonry Sealer – BrickWood Ovens

  5. There is also some cracking in the stucco between where the firebrick meets the stucco (chimney and front arch). How do I address that? Or I just leave alone?

  6. Would it make more sense in my climate to add a rock veneer? My wife really liked the look of the stucco but I do want the oven to last. Or painting yearly is reasonable?

Thanks again!!

I’ll answer your questions in order, Steve!

  1. Akona: dry and pre blended should do the trick for the quantity you need. I’d have @BrickWood vet it for a full build, but for a repair like this, it should do the job.

  2. Yes, ½ inch crown, sloping slightly toward the edges to let the water run off and prevent ice from forming and cracking it.

  3. Yes on the stucco patch material. If they have a larger size, or two tubes, I’d get that because it will take a little more than you think.

  4. Yes, that or a similar product. The chimney brick are exposed enough that they can wick water in and down. In your climate that’s a hazard for freezing.

  5. If the mineral fiber insulation remains covered, leave it alone for now. At the end of the cooking season you will want to use stucco patch or even type S mortar. Carefully break off loose pieces, clean the surfaces, and reapply. (You are doing this at the end of the season because you will have driven out any moisture that has been nesting in the fiber. If you do it now you risk creating a steam buildup in your newly sealed shell.)

  6. The rock veneer would work, but it does not provide any particular advantage. You still have to seal and maintain it annually. If you and your wife like the stucco, painting it is an easy half hour job that I would do when night temps are getting down into the 40s. (Just in terms of when in the season to do it.) I clean the shell, roll on from the top down the sides, and then use a brush to make sure the bottom edges are well coated. Takes longer to clean the roller and brush than it does to paint. And I’m not the painter in our family. :innocent:

Hope this helps, Steve. That oven has many years of pizza baking ahead of it with a little rehab now. Looking forward to any “after” photos you can share with us!

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Hey! One quick question…I think I’m just looking for some reassurance. But when I fixed the chimney, I had to go all the way down to the arch as all the bricks were loose. The arch looked great, except for one brick that had cracked and was loose (one of the bricks that was cut for the chimney hole) I replace the brick with some mortar, and tried to hold up the brick with a piece of wood (it looks silly but fit perfectly!) do you think this will hold? I figured I’d give it a week then cure the oven.

Hi Steve,

It’s looking great! Yes, I do think the single brick will hold. It may be the angle on the last photo, but it appears that the inside surface of the replaced brick is not flush with the rest of the oven. No matter as it is not in a place where it will have an effect on the cooking.

You will need to do some modified version of the curing fires that are outlined in the oven manual. With the high-temperature mortar there is no substitute for that. The good news would be that because of its location you could set those fires right under the chimney and do maybe 4, from lowest and slowest to hottest and flamiest. (Just made that word up! :slight_smile: ) This will also cure the mortar in the chimney that you just re-set, as well as the new crown. (I don’t see that in the photos, but presuming you will add it before you replace the vent/spark arrestor.)

You’ve done a great job of rehabbing your oven, and glad to see it back on its feet and almost ready to go back in service.