Brick chimneys are usually the only masonry work on a home which is above the roof-line. This means that they have a much greater moisture exposure than the walls of the house, and are also prone to a freeze/thaw cycle. For these reasons chimneys are one of the first places on a home to show signs of deterioration, and once any deterioration begins it progresses quickly.
A chimney in need of repair presents an obvious safety concern as any pieces of falling pieces of brick or mortar may be hazardous to people or cars. Any pieces of masonry that fall into the chimney may cause a hazardous blockage.
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Some of the signs that your chimney/fireplace might be in need of chimney repair and rebuilding are: