Chimney repair can be expensive, so properly maintaining your chimney’s bricks and mortar is important for your checkbook and your home’s safety. Chimney mortar is a paste consisting of a mixture of sand, cement, and lime. In combination with mortar joints, mortar holds bricks together, keeps out air and moisture, and helps prevent the bricks from cracking or spalling (breaking off). Over time, exposure to the elements wears down the mortar, and gaps or cracks may appear. To help prevent and address chimney mortar damage, here are some useful tips from our experts at Brickworks Property Restoration: 

Perform Basic Chimney Mortar Maintenance  

To keep chimney mortar in good condition for as long as possible, there are some general guidelines you can follow. As a start, always clean your fireplace after use, use dry wood, and regularly check for signs of deteriorating or cracking bricks. With proper care, mortar typically has a lifespan of 20-30 years, but regular inspections are still recommended to identify cracks and gaps before more serious damage occurs. 

Schedule Routine Chimney Mortar Inspections to Find Damage Early

It can be hard to tell when bricks on your chimney are cracking or spalling by looking up from the ground, so hiring professionals to inspect your chimney periodically is key for preventing severe damage before it happens. Inspections can also help find if internal chimney damage is present. By identifying cracking or damaged bricks early, the repair process is made much simpler and more inexpensive. Warning signs for chimney masonry repairs include white stains and rust, cracked bricks, excessive or black smoke, and more. Wood-burning fireplaces can also experience an internal buildup of creosote, which is flammable and can lead to house fires. Since it often accumulates inside your chimney, it can be easy to miss, which is why inspections are crucial. 

Our Chimney Mortar Repair Process

Mortar maintenance can only go so far; eventually, at least minor repairs will be needed. To repair mortar, it is first necessary to repoint the bricks by grinding or chiseling away the old mortar and restoring the integrity of mortar joints. Restoring brick mortar joints involves using a  process called tuckpointing, where a pointing trowel or fingers are used to apply mortar between tight joints. 

There are many different types of mortar available, so having an expert analyze your existing mortar to find the right match is important. Mortar is typically only workable for 90 minutes, so quick and efficient work is necessary. Although you could apply mortar yourself, given the complexity and nuances of the steps involved, it is recommended to at least contact experts for advice before beginning.  

Receive Professional Guidance

Although it is possible to perform chimney mortar repairs yourself, it can be difficult due to the materials and techniques required. To avoid costly mistakes, it is recommended to first contact a chimney repair specialist to help you identify your current mortar mixture, your next best steps, and if further interior chimney damage is present. Whether you just need a routine inspection or serious repair work, our masonry experts at Brickworks Property Restoration can help. Call us at (586) 330-4843 for help planning your next chimney maintenance project!