Chimney Repair Is Often a DIY Job, But It Requires Special Tools and Knowledge
Chimney Repair is often a DIY job, but it requires special tools and knowledge. Attempting to repair your chimney without the help of a professional could cause more damage and lead to additional costs in the future.
A leaking chimney should be repaired immediately. Signs of leakage include water stains, rust, and damp areas around the fireplace.
Mortar joints are a vital part of your chimney or masonry structure, providing a stable connection between bricks. They also give your chimney its distinctive appearance. Over time, however, the mortar between bricks can deteriorate. When this happens, water penetrates the masonry and causes damage to the structure. Moisture penetration through damaged mortar joints can cause a variety of problems, including wood rot, mildew, mold, and structural instability. Tuckpointing repairs the damaged mortar joints in a chimney or masonry structure, restoring the masonry to its original appearance and strength.
The most common sign of deteriorating mortar is cracks, known as bond breaks, that develop along the lines of the mortar joints. These cracks may appear as a single line or as several. They usually form as a result of expansion and contraction, minor ground settling, or a weak mortar mix. Bond breaks should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration and to protect your home from moisture penetration.
A skilled mason can repair eroding mortar joints using a process called repointing or tuckpointing. First, your mason will grind out the old mortar to a uniform depth. Next, he or she will clean the joints to remove any loose chunks of mortar and debris. Then he or she will use a grout bag, narrow trowel, or wood stick to force the new mortar into the voids. The new mortar will be color-matched to the existing mortar on your chimney or masonry structure.
Once the mason has filled the joints, he or she will again mist the cleaned surfaces with a hose to dampen them. This is important because dry brick will suck the moisture out of the new mortar, preventing it from curing correctly.
If you notice that your chimney is leaking or that there are water stains on the ceilings of rooms in your home, it’s time for a chimney inspection. A leaky flue allows smoke and combustible gases to leak into areas of your home like attic spaces, floor voids, and even living areas. Leaks from a chimney flue can also allow moisture to seep into the masonry of the chimney stack itself, causing damage and increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Chimney leaks are often caused by damaged flashing. These layered metal sheets are at the base of the chimney where it meets the roof and protect this vulnerable area from water penetration. Flashing can become dented, rusted, or lifted from the chimney structure. Chimney sweeps can repair leaky flashing using a flashing sealant to ensure it is protected for the long term.
The crown is the cement slab at the top of the chimney that protects the masonry from rain and other weather. The crown can crack, settle, or become disintegrated over time, which allows rain to enter the chimney and cause water damage inside the home. Chimney sweeps can resurface or rebuild the chimney crown to prevent future problems and keep it safe for use.
Chimney professionals can diagnose a chimney leak by doing a simple water test. The person conducting the test will go into an attic or interior space with a water hose and start to spray around the chimney. If there is a leak, a professional can quickly find the source and make the necessary repairs to fix it. If you have heavy rains that cause water to flow into the chimney, contact us today for a professional inspection!
A chimney that leans or tilts is a major problem. It can cause a number of problems, from water damage to insect infestations and structural cracks in your home. Eventually, the chimney may separate from your house and fall down altogether. Chimneys often begin to tilt due to a weak foundation underneath them. The concrete under a chimney needs to be sturdy and well-installed to support the thousands of pounds of bricks that rest on top. If the concrete starts to crack and crumble, the entire structure will shift.
Over time, the mortar and bricks in a chimney wear down due to age and weather, which can also lead to an unbalanced structure. This can be exacerbated by erosion, which can weaken the foundation and allow the chimney to shift or even crack. Poor-quality mason work is another common reason for a shifting chimney. A new homeowner might attempt to fix this by adding a metal strap to the chimney or filling the gap between the house and the exterior chimney with caulking. These temporary fixes are not adequate and can actually mask a larger problem that requires professional attention.
The footing that supports a chimney is designed to distribute its weight evenly. However, if the footing is too shallow or narrow, or if the soil beneath it is not able to hold the weight of the chimney, the foundation will fail. This can lead to a shifting chimney, which can cause roof damage and carbon monoxide poisoning.
A yearly chimney inspection by a CSIA-certified technician can help spot the early signs of foundation problems and make repairs before they become severe enough to cause a leaning chimney. This can save you from expensive repair bills, foundation work, and a potentially collapsed chimney.
Crowns are dental treatments that completely cover or encircle a damaged tooth to preserve its structure and appearance. These tooth-shaped caps protect a weak tooth from further damage and can last for five to twenty years. However, they are not impenetrable and can crack like any other tooth. Cracks in a crown can expose the underlying tooth to further damage and increase your risk of infection. Therefore, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible after the problem occurs.
You are sitting down to enjoy a bowl of chips when you hear a crunch that feels painful in your mouth. You spit out the chips onto your napkin and notice that a piece of your crown has broken off. Luckily, your dental appointment is not far away, and you should be able to get the cracked crown repaired quickly.
A cracked crown should be treated as a dental emergency because it can increase the likelihood of the weak tooth shattering or becoming infected with bacteria. It can also cause discomfort because the crack can expose the root of the tooth and make it sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
A cracked crown can be repaired by a dentist using composite resin to reestablish the tooth. This process takes one dental appointment and involves placing the resin over the affected tooth and shaping it to look natural. If the crack is severe, you may need to replace the crown entirely. However, if the crack is only in the outer portion of the tooth, your dentist might be able to repair it by using cement.
Regardless of how they look, loose bricks are a huge chimney safety concern. They are a recipe for water damage and can lead to a chimney collapse. If not repaired quickly, loose bricks can allow more moisture in and further weaken the masonry. Chimney repointing or mortar repair is necessary to address this issue.
Moisture is the leading cause of spalling (deterioration) in masonry, but it isn’t the only reason. Other factors include poor brick and mortar quality, freeze-thaw cycles, and sand and cement content. Whether you live in a wet climate or not, you should check the condition of your masonry regularly to prevent water infiltration and structural damage.
The first step to fixing a loose brick is removing it. This can be done with a hammer and chisel or with a drill and a masonry bit. Once the loose brick has been removed, it is important to clean the surrounding areas to make sure the damaged mortar is repaired. This also helps prevent moisture from damaging the surrounding masonry.
Next, prepare the area for brick repointing. If the mortar is still good, it will need to be sanded down and cleaned with a masonry brush. Once all the damaged areas are prepped, mix a batch of type-N mortar to an oatmeal consistency. Use a finish trowel and margin trowel to apply the new mortar.
When repointing your chimney, try to reuse the existing brick when possible. It’s difficult to find a matching replacement brick, and swapping in a new one can create a noticeable color mismatch. It’s also important to choose the proper mortar for your project. While sand-based mortar mixes may be cheaper, they will likely need to be replaced sooner than mortar that is mixed with Portland cement.