I bought a 30-year-old house and the inspector said the cement crown of the chimney is damaged enough that it needs replacing, as well as damaged bricks need replacing and mortar needs tuck pointing. I got some books and read up on what was involved, and yesterday began removing damaged materials.
We successfully removed the crown and the three top layers of bricks (many of which were crumbling along with the mortar). My problem is every time I try to clear mortar from the next layer of bricks so that I can start fresh with laying new bricks, the next layer comes loose (the mortar a layer down, which overall seems really porous, cracks from the impact above). I fear I may end up having to rebrick the whole chimney. Is there a way to remove mortar and not loosen the remain bricks, or is this problem indicative that the whole chimney is suspect and needs replacing?