chimney crown repair

Chimney Crown Repair: What You Need To Know

Chimney crowns are, perhaps, the area of a chimney most susceptible to external damage. Chimney crowns are located at the top of the chimney. They sit on top of the brick structure, and they’re sometimes made from leftover mortar that was used to build the chimney in the first place. Because chimney crowns face high levels of exposure to winds, rain, sunlight, (etc.) they may deteriorate faster than other parts of a chimney. Here, we’ll explain everything you need about chimney crown repair –– from spotting damage to preventing issues from ever occurring in the first place:

Chimney Crown Damage

Chimney crowns are most often damaged over time by the elements. Indeed, many chimney crowns will begin to develop cracks as they age, and, if ignored long enough, they may begin to crumble bit by bit. It’s important for homeowners to inspect their chimney regularly. Spotting and treating chimney crown cracks early on can help homeowners save thousands of dollars on repairs.

Sealing Chimney Crowns

The most effective way to repair most chimney crowns is to seal the surface. If the structure isn’t completely compromised, it’s possible to apply a sealant to caulk cracks and prevent further degradation. In addition, some homeowners may elect to seal their chimney crowns as a short-term solution during the winter. This isn’t to be recommended, though.

Chimney Crown Repairs

Chimney crowns that are too damaged to fix with a quick sealing will require more extensive repairs or total replacement. Just how long a given chimney crown will last can be difficult to predict. For one, varying climates will affect brick-and-mortar structures differently. In general, though, the wetter the area, the worse brick structures fare. Second, the material used to create the chimney crown will also have an influence on its durability. Sometimes contractors will use cheap mortar to form a chimney crown in order to complete a project quickly. When this is the case, chimney crowns won’t last very long. Depending on the extent of the damage, a chimney crown repair or replacement could cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Chimney Maintenance Best Practices

A busted chimney crown can cause a myriad of issues. Cracks or holes in the crown can allow moisture to enter the chimney interior, and thus, quicken the erosion of the structure. In addition, crumbling chimney crowns won’t allow for proper ventilation, and they may also fail to properly contain chimney fires. Because chimney crowns are required to ensure proper chimney safety, we recommend that all homeowners get their chimneys inspected at least once a year. This way, a professional will be able to detect any potential problems and deal with them before they get out of hand.

The Bottom Line

Contacting a professional to take a look at your chimney crown won’t just give you peace of mind –– it’s likely to save you a good amount of money too. At Brickworks, we specialize in all aspects of chimney repair and maintenance, and we’re happy to help you complete your next masonry project. Contact us here for more information or to schedule a chimney inspection today!

masonry mortar

The Ultimate Guide to Masonry Mortar

Masonry mortar is an adhesive substance comprised of cement, sand, and lime. Masons use mortar for a variety of different projects and in a variety of ways, but it often acts as the “glue” that holds structures together. So while mortar is still very much used in the brick-laying process, it has other applications as well. In addition, there are different types of mortar that are made up of unique materials and mix ratios. And certain home-improvement projects require specific mortars. Here, we’ll break down everything you need to know about masonry mortar:

Different Types of Masonry Mortar

In general, there are four (sometimes five) different types of masonry mortar mixes. They are: N, M, O, and S. (K is a specialized mortar mix, typically used in restoring old buildings that have a weaker structural composition.) Mortar mixes N and O are the two mortar mixes that are most often used in DIY restoration projects.

N Mortar Mix

N mortar mix is the “general application” mix. It’s designed for above grade usage and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. This is also the mortar used in soft-stone masonry projects.

O Mortar Mix

Type O mortar mix is, comparatively, the weakest type of mortar mix available. As such, homeowners should not use type O mix for any for any projects involving a building’s foundation or load-bearing walls. Rather, type O mix is perfect for smaller undertakings like tuckpointing or repointing a brick exterior. (For more information on the process of tuckpointing, check out our blog here.)

M & S Mortar

Both M and S mortar mix are used for below grade, heavy load-bearing projects. These undertakings include foundation repair, chimney repair, restoring load-bearing walls, strengthening patios, laying driveways, and repairing sewers. Type S and type M mixes are significantly stronger than type N and O, and homeowners will rarely use them in for DIY repairs.

Mortar vs Grout vs Concrete

Mortar is similar to other construction materials such as grout and concrete. Grout is composed of cement, sand, and water –– just like mortar –– but doesn’t contain any lime. As a result, grout is thinner and doesn’t have the adhesive properties of mortar. Professionals may use grout to patch holes in tiles, for instance.

Similarly, concrete is also composed of cement and sand, but instead of lime, it contains gravel. Concrete is used for a number of different projects and acts as a building block for structures like patios or driveways.

Mortar Costs and Best Practices

Masonry mortar may cost anywhere from $2-$3 per square feet. That might not sound like a lot, but considering the amount of mortar needed for foundation repairs, for instance, the total cost may end up exceeding a thousand dollars. For smaller home repairs such as tuckpointing, it is possible to purchase, mix, and apply mortar on your own. However, it’s recommended to consult with a professional before you do so. Even seemingly “simple” home improvement projects can go awry quickly and end up costing you a hefty amount in the long run.

Final Thoughts

At Brickworks, we have years of experience tackling an array of home-improvement projects. We’re masonry experts, and we’ll help you fix any issue you’re dealing with. Contact us today for more information or if you’re in need of an inspection!