Common Mistakes in Brick Chimney Restoration Projects
There are many ways that a chimney repair project can go wrong. Rebuilding a chimney requires extensive training and experience. We have been called in to fix chimney problems created by inexperienced masons throughout our years serving residents in Buffalo, NY, and the surrounding region. Unfortunately, the work of an amateur mason can threaten the integrity of your chimney or leave you with a chimney leak. We’ve compiled this list of common mistakes to help recognize quality chimney repair work.
Repairing Surface Issues
Making surface repairs instead of fixing the underlying issue is one of the most common mistakes DIYers make when tackling chimney problems. Uncovering the root cause of a chimney leak or other chimney problem can be difficult, especially if you don’t have training and experience in chimney inspections and repairs. But, investigating how it developed is a crucial step. Otherwise, you will wind up paying twice or more to fix the same issues.
Poorly Installed Flashing
Improperly installed flashing is a leading cause of chimney leaks. Flashing plays a vital role in protecting, not only your chimney but your entire home, from water damage. It is a special type of roofing material—made from either sheet metal or a tar-like substance—that’s installed around the base of the chimney. It bridges the gap between the chimney and the roof. When it is properly installed, it creates a waterproof barrier at the base of the chimney.
Before installing new flashing, the old flashing should be removed entirely. Then, the new flashing should be installed in overlapping layers that are sealed.
Improperly Applied Waterproofing Sealant
Bricks and mortar need to be treated by a waterproofing sealant. Otherwise, the masonry can absorb moisture like a sponge. During the winter, as that moisture freezes and thaws, your bricks and mortar will deteriorate from the stress of expanding and contracting. Waterproofing sealant can prevent this problem if it is correctly applied.
Applying waterproofing sealant to masonry requires a different technique than painting. If it is misapplied, it can trap moisture in the masonry resulting in future damage.
Starting Without Cleaning
Before repointing (repairing mortar joints), the bricks should be cleaned. Removing dirt and debris is an important step to ensure that the new mortar bonds with the bricks. If the area being repaired isn’t cleaned, the new mortar will be more likely to crack or crumble prematurely.
The mortar that is chosen to repair your chimney needs to match the existing mortar. If you have an old, historic home, the chimney repair technician needs to use an older type of mortar that’s softer and lime-based. If you have a new chimney, they need to use a newer kind of mortar. Otherwise, the chimney may crumble due to the mixture of incompatible types of mortar.
Bad Brick Joint
Inexperienced masons tend to either leave gaps in the mortar that can weaken the brickwork or lay the mortar too thick. If the bed joint is too thick, the strength of the bricks is compromised. Applying the appropriate amount of mortar to create robust brickwork requires training and practice.
Laying bricks so that they align correctly is essential to building a solid and enduring brick chimney. Unfortunately, inexperienced masons often struggle to align bricks properly, resulting in the need to fix an unstable chimney with extensive damage.
Now you know the seven most common masonry chimney repair mistakes. Any one of these mistakes can lead to future chimney repairs. We understand the concern that many homeowners have about the cost of a chimney restoration project. But, cutting corners by hiring an inexperienced mason or trying DIY-chimney repairs can end up costing you more money in the long run. The certified chimney repair technicians at Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney have the training and experience to do any chimney rebuilding job right the first time. If you need a chimney restoration or repair in Buffalo, NY, Rochester, NY, or the surrounding area, give us a call!