While well maintained quality bricks in a masonry chimney structure can last as long as 100 years, the mortar that holds the bricks together will hold up well for about 25 years if regularly maintained– and that’s if everything goes according to plan. Mortar is prone to damage from various sources that we’ll cover below along with a process called tuckpointing.
Chimney Mortar Damage through the Years
A lot of things can happen to compromise the mortar of a chimney. Common causes of mortar damage include the following:
- Lightning strikes
- Shifting & settling of the house
- Faulty chimney footing that causes shifts
- Water infiltration
- Severe hail storms
- Season after season of extreme temperatures
- Some chimney fires
What Is Tuckpointing?
Tuckpointing is the process in which crumbling or decayed mortar is scraped away from the masonry and a new mortar compound is put in its place. Tuckpointing often involves the use of hand and power tools to grind out problem areas to a uniform depth.
Fire N’ Stone of Tilton, NH, has performed numerous tuckpointing projects over the past 10+ years, and one thing we always look for before jumping into the work is the overall condition of the chimney structure.
Tuckpointing can re-secure a chimney’s bricks that might not have been waterproofed. If there’s widespread mortar damage and some brick damage to go along with it, the job may require rebuilding certain sections of the chimney to restore safety.
How to Avoid Major Chimney Damage
As a homeowner, one of the best ways to keep chimney repairs (and costs) at a minimum is to personally inspect your chimney once or twice a year.
After taking necessary safety precautions, look closely at the exterior masonry on the chimney stack (above the roof line). Do you see crumbling areas? Is mortar residue on the roof near the chimney? Are some sections of mortar missing? Call us if you encounter any of these visuals.
Another thing to keep an eye on is white staining on the outside of the chimney. This is called “efflorescence” and it indicates that water is being absorbed by the bricks. Efflorescence should be looked at by a licensed chimney inspector to determine if damage exists or is likely to occur.
Tuckpointing & Chimney Maintenance
If mortar has started to decay, tuckpointing will most likely resolve the problem. In very early stages, before the damage is severe, a water repellant can be applied to the masonry to prevent water from entering cracks and compromised areas, which can lead to system-wide damage.
Annual chimney inspections are another critical factor in keeping your chimney maintained and safe. Our certified chimney technicians can spot early signs of trouble throughout the system and let you know when repairs are needed. Annual chimney inspections can save you many thousands of dollars in major chimney repair costs.
Fire N’ Stone provides tuckpointing, chimney waterproofing, chimney leak repair, chimney sweeping and all other fireplace and chimney work. We do everything ourselves – there is no subcontracting or outsourcing.
Speak with a chimney expert today by calling (603) 293-4040. We proudly serve Gilmanton NH, Belmont NH, Loudon NH, Concord NH, and all communities in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.