Chimney Tuckpointing: How it Can Save Your Chimney
When a chimney is built well, its masonry should offer stability and performance for many years. Masonry is comprised of two parts: bricks and mortar. While bricks may last for a century, the mortar that holds the bricks together may begin to fail in 25 years or less.
In simple terms, tuckpointing involves removing old, crumbling mortar within a chimney’s masonry and replacing it with a strong, long-lasting compound. Old mortar is scraped or ground out, and the new mortar is selected to closely match the color of the original mortar.
A proper tuckpointing job brings three benefits:
- The chimney looks clean and handsome once again.
- The chimney is now protected from intruding water and moisture, which is the central problem in the majority of chimney repair issues.
- The chimney is now strengthened and far less likely to lean or collapse.
Benefit #1 is pretty self-explanatory. Let’s look at #2 and #3.
How water from rain and snow damages your chimney
Water is not a good mix with bricks and mortar. When cracks or crumbling begin in a chimney’s masonry, water can seep in and begin a cycle of deterioration.
In the Kansas City area, we get a lot of freezing temperatures in the winter. When this happens, moisture inside the bricks and mortar freezes and then expands, as frozen water will do. The result is further cracking and decay.
Incoming water can cause damage to a chimney liner and interior masonry. It can also eventually get to walls, flooring, attics and other home building materials and cause rotting.
For these and many other reasons, tuckpointing – and brick replacement, when necessary – are strongly recommended in the early stages of damage, before it gets out of hand.
Chimneys should stand up straight
Mortar joint deterioration is a common cause of leaning chimneys. After a chimney has begun to tilt, it isn’t going to right itself. Rather, it’s going to eventually lean to the point where it literally falls.
Of course, you wouldn’t let your chimney get to the about-to-collapse stage, but many homeowners will allow mortar to keep crumbling for years and years before addressing the problem.
Like with all chimney repairs, tuckpointing is best performed early. If your chimney is more than 20 years old, keep an eye on the masonry mortar and contact a tuckpointing specialist if you notice crumbling and cracks.
How chimney bricks and mortar become damaged
Old age is sure to eventually take its toll on chimney masonry. Other causes of damage include:
- Lightning strikes
- Major hail storms
- Freezing and thawing (as mentioned above)
- Problems with the chimney footing, which cause shifting
- Gale-force winds
- Chimney fires, many of which you may not even know about
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