A chimney is subject to a lot of wear and tear from the weather. It sticks up above the roof of the house and takes the brunt of all the wind, rain, and snow. This will quickly take its toll on any brick or masonry structure. As time goes on the mortar will crack and break off putting the structure of the chimney in jeopardy. If the structure of the chimney fails it could topple onto your roof and possibly fall through. Then you will have new appreciation for the term “hit you like a ton of bricks”. Luckily your certified chimney sweep is more than capable of fixing this issue before it ever gets to that point.
If during the process of inspection your chimney sweep discovers cracked or broken mortar they will being repointing the chimney. Repointing involves removing old broken bits of mortar and replacing it with new mortar. While this sounds like a relatively straight forward process there are some intricacies that require a lot of attention to detail.
The first part of the repointing process is to determine how much of the mortar is damaged. The obvious missing pieces are easy to notice but what may be less immediately apparent is any mortar that may be cracked and/or detached from the existing mortar but still lodged between the bricks. Adhering new mortar to these pieces is essentially pointless as those pieces can just as easily fall out as the bricks expand and contract over time. Once the sweep has determined exactly which pieces are damaged they will remove them.
Once the chimney is devoid of all broken pieces of mortar your chimney sweep can begin to apply new mortar. It is very important to mix mortar that is of a similar type, consistency, and color as the existing mortar. The color is for purely aesthetic purposes but the consistency is another matter. If you try to bond 2 different types of mortar it is difficult to get them to adhere to one another permanently. Once the chimney sweep has mixed the appropriate mortar they can begin filling in the gaps left by the broken and faulty older mortar.
When filling in the gaps it takes special care to make sure that everything is done properly. Too much mortar will put uneven pressure on the bricks during the regular movement caused by weather and temperature change and can cause the bricks themselves to crack. Not enough mortar and they will not hold and the process will have to be repeated. After all this is done the chimney should be re-sealed to prevent water damage which can cause extensive damage to your chimney and if not managed the rest of your home.
It is always a good idea to check your chimney periodically for pieces of broken brick or mortar and if anything seems amiss call your local certified chimney sweep and they will come out and get to work. Of course it is important to have your chimney regularly inspected to make sure a problem like this does not get ignored and progress into an even bigger issue that can threaten the structural stability of your chimney and indeed your entire house.