Chimney Tuckpointing / Repointing Service – What is it?
It is easy to overlook chimney damage—as many homeowners do—if you have a brick or stone chimney. Since brick and stone are durable building materials, most American homeowners assume they don’t require maintenance. Unfortunately, this assumption isn’t correct. Even though masonry won’t rot like wood, it can deteriorate. Homes with chimneys that are 30 to 50 years old are at the greatest risk. Chimney tuckpointing or repointing is the fix for mortar deterioration.
What is Tuckpointing or Repointing?
Before answering that question, you need to understand the importance of mortar. Mortar plays an essential role in masonry structures. It binds together the bricks or stone and keeps water out. Mortar needs to be replaced when it shows signs of deterioration, such as discoloration, flacking, or cracks.
Chimney mortar is especially vulnerable to deterioration due to stress from New York’s severe winter weather, along with the caustic exhaust and high temperatures from the fireplace. Weak mortar joints can lead to a leaky chimney and weakened chimney structure. If unaddressed, the chimney could eventually collapse.
Tuckpointing or repointing is a restorative process that involves removing old mortar and replacing it with new. Having your chimney tuckpointed will strengthen the chimney structure and reduce the risk of expensive water damage from a chimney leak. Professional tuckpointing can last for around 30 yrs.
What Are the Signs That My Chimney Needs Tuckpointing?
There are several signs that your chimney may need tuckpointing. If you notice any one of these issues, call on a CSIA-certified chimney repair professional to schedule a chimney inspection.
Water damage to the walls surrounding your chimney often indicates that you have a chimney leak. Cracked or broken mortar joints may be the culprit.
Rusty Firebox or Damper
Rust stains in the firebox or a rusted damper are indicators of a chimney leak in the masonry.
When mortar becomes weathered or starts deteriorating, it can become discolored. If you notice that part or all of your mortar has changed color, call on a chimney expert for an inspection!
Flakes of mortar around your chimney are a clear sign that tuckpointing is needed. Old mortar that has weakened can begin to fall apart and won’t have a strong bond.
Cracks of any size—thin or wide—are troublesome indicators that your chimney needs some TLC. Even the most delicate crack can allow water to seep into the masonry. During New York’s long winters, the crack will usually widen as moisture expands (freezes) and contracts (thaws) inside.
The freeze-thaw cycle that deteriorates mortar can cause spalling or cracked brickwork. If you notice spalling, your chimney is in immediate need of tuckpointing to prevent it from weakening further or even causing a full chimney collapse
What Should I Do If I Notice Sign of Chimney Deterioration?
If you notice signs that your chimney has a problem, the first step is to schedule an inspection by a chimney professional. They will thoroughly look over your chimney to investigate the source and extent of the problem. After their inspection, they should provide a detailed description of what they discovered and recommendations for repairs that may include tuckpointing. In some cases, a level two or level three inspection may be needed first to determine the extent of the problem.
Do You have Pro-Tips for DIY Tuckpointing?
Successfully removing old mortar and replacing it without collapsing a part of the chimney requires skill and experience. Therefore, unless you are a trained mason, we do not recommend trying your hand at this DIY project.
Over our years serving residents in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, we have come across many chimneys that have been “ribbon pointed.” Ribbon pointed is the term for a temporary fix for deteriorating mortar. Instead of removing old, crumbling mortar, it is covered with new mortar. This is the most common DIY method. It may last for a few years but, eventually, your chimney will need to be repaired by tuckpointing.
Brick and stone chimneys are made to last a lifetime, but they require maintenance, just like your gutters and roof. So watch out for signs that the chimney mortar needs to be repaired! Tuckpointing is a wise investment when the mortar begins to show signs of weakening. It will improve your home’s curb appeal while preventing costly water damage and structural collapse.
If you are looking for a professional chimney service you can trust in upstate New York, call Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney! We have served folks in the Buffalo, NY, and Rochester, NY regions for nearly 70 years. Our chimney technicians have been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). They have in-depth knowledge and expert mastery of chimney repairs, including chimney tuckpointing.