What All Homeowners Need To Know About Chimney Masonry Repair

Posted on: 15 February 2022


As a homeowner with a fireplace, it is important you know as much about maintaining its brick chimney as possible.

While most people view masonry structures as permanent and not in need of regular maintenance, this just isn't the case. To stand strong for decades, brick chimneys need regular inspections, tuckpointing, and replacement of spalling bricks.

Here is more information to help you better understand each of these things: 

Regular Inspections by a Licensed Stonemason

Masonry chimney repair is a lot easier and cheaper when small problems are identified and repaired before they become bigger issues. The best way to catch these issues is to have a professional inspection.

Since you aren't a licensed stonemason, you really aren't qualified to inspect your own chimney. For this reason, you should regularly hire a mason to inspect it for you. 

Tuckpointing to Replace Damaged Mortar Sections

The cement mortar used to make a brick chimney is susceptible to weather damage. Cement-based masonry mortar cracks and crumbles just like an aging concrete slab.

As your chimney's mortar is exposed to the elements, it absorbs water. When the water freezes, it expands and causes the mortar to crack and crumble.

If the damaged mortar is not quickly repaired, then the problem gets exponentially worse each winter.

The mason's term for removing damaged mortar and replacing it is tuckpointing.  

All brick chimneys need tuckpointing work done at some point during their lifespan. Not only is crumbling mortar a cosmetic issue, but it can also lead to another problem known as brick spalling.

Brick Spalling and Repairing Spalling Problems

Just as water can seep into the mortar, it can also get inside bricks as well. 

Red bricks are made by firing clay in a large kiln. The resulting bricks last for a long time, but they aren't impervious to absorbing water.

When water soaks into a brick and it freezes this causes expansion. The swelling inside the brick eventually causes it to crack and crumble. The technical term for bricks crumbling and cracking due to expansion is spalling.

Since each brick relies on the surrounding bricks for stability, spalling problems can lead to chimney collapse and structural issues with your home.

To fix spalling problems, a mason will remove the damaged brick and replace it with a new matching brick.

Preventing Masonry Chimney Damage

Finally, it's important to note you can prevent the need for frequent chimney masonry repairs by applying a water repellent product.

Masonry water repellents are sold at home improvement stores. After application, the water repellent makes a semi-permeable membrane that allows water moisture to escape but prevents water from absorbing into the bricks and mortar. Since moisture can't get into the bricks and mortar, it cannot cause any damage.

To learn more information, reach out to professionals that offer chimney masonry repair services.