Oftentimes our chimneys go overlooked. They can rest on our roofs unnoticed for decades on end. And if they do, it’s often only when the chimney has turned into a hazard that we perform any maintenance or repairs. However, with a bit of foresight, you can have tuckpointing performed on your chimney to ensure that it doesn’t lose its structural integrity prematurely. Tuckpointing repairs the mortar between the bricks of your chimney (and possibly the surface of your bricks), ensuring that your structure remains intact. Be wary of the following signs that your chimney could use tuckpointing.
Inspect for These Signs
If you’re worried that your chimney may not be in the best shape, then you should note how old the chimney bricks are, how recessed the mortar is, and whether or not the mortar is beginning to crack or crumble.
Aged Bricks and Mortar
If you have bricks and mortar that are a couple of decades old, then it’s likely that you’ll want to perform tuckpointing to ensure that the chimney structure remains intact. If your mortar hasn’t been touched up for 20 to 30 years, then it’s likely that you’ll need to have it tuckpointed. This process will ensure that your bricks don’t age prematurely.
As mortar ages it will wear away, leaving recessions in the brick structure of your chimney. If your mortar has recessed back toward the center of the chimney by a quarter to a half of an inch or so, then you should have tuckpointing performed on your chimney. If you let your mortar continue to recess, then the bricks will begin to crumble, which will result in more costly repairs.
Cracked, Crumbling Mortar
Cracking and crumbling mortar are another sign that you should have tuckpointing performed. We can grind away any mortar that is failing (as indicated by the cracking), so that these surfaces can be coated with a fresh layer of protective, supportive mortar. Cracked mortar and recessed mortar often go hand-in-hand, so keep an eye out for both of these signs that your chimney requires attention.
Signs That Your Chimney Requires Rebuilding
Be mindful that your chimney, or parts of your chimney, may be beyond the point where they can be tuckpointed. If your chimney has endured significant damage, then you’ll have to repair and rebuild the chimney to make it whole once again. Keep this in mind if you notice that your chimney is missing whole bricks, if the bricks are crumbling, if you have a leaning chimney, or if you have to replace the same type of brick around your home.
Missing Whole Bricks
If your chimney is missing bricks, then it has become a hazard, and it requires immediate attention. Moreover, tuckpointing will not be a viable solution, since full bricks will need to be replaced. Often, if whole bricks are missing, the integrity of the whole structure is compromised, and you’ll have to have your chimney rebuilt from scratch.
If you have bricks that are crumbling, then they cannot be repaired and instead will need to be replaced. Over time, bricks eventually crumble as they weather. This is an indication that the clay that was used for the bricks is failing. Depending on the type of clay used for your chimney bricks, your bricks could last between 20 years (for poor-quality bricks) up to a century or longer (for high-quality bricks).
Severe Mortar Loss
Eventually, the mortar between your bricks will wear away so much that the brick itself is compromised. If your chimney has significant mortar loss, tuckpointing may be pointless, since you’ll be repairing bricks that are already damaged (even if the damage isn’t obvious). In this state, the bricks are already weakened, making them liable to crack and crumble, even if tuckpointing was performed.
Your chimney should never lean or fall over. However, with significant damage, your chimney may lose its structural rigidity, which means that it’s on its last leg. In some cases, the chimney can be reinforced and the bricks can remain in use as the surface is tuckpointed. However, it’s likely that you’ll need to replace segments of the chimney to ensure that it is stable once again.
Replacing Bricks Around the Home
Do you have a home that is made out of the same bricks as your chimney? Then inspecting your home’s bricks can serve as a litmus test for the integrity of your chimney bricks. If your home’s bricks are failing and require replacement (instead of tuckpointing), then your chimney will require rebuilding as well — especially since your chimney is more exposed to wind, rain, and whatever else Mother Nature can throw at it.
Tuckpointing and Repair From Red Dog’s
Whether you need to have your chimney repaired, tuckpointed, or rebuilt entirely, you can count on the team here at Red Dog’s. Plus, we’d be happy to inspect your roof and perform any repairs that you need while we’re up there. Red Dog’s Roofing is your local roofing specialist — we provide roofing and chimney services for folks throughout Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, and the surrounding area. Reach out to us to schedule an inspection for your roof and chimney!