Who wouldn’t enjoy a holiday without a fireplace? However, homeowners seem to overlook and take the chimney for granted, making issues with it arise. If you neglect the problem, a repair could be of no use, and you would opt for the worst-case option, chimney rebuild. Which, by far, can cause you more costs. Do you think your chimney is not working correctly?
Lucky you, this blog can be your ultimate guide. Continue reading this article to deepen your knowledge about chimneys and signs that may need repairs.
Signs your Chimney is in Need of Repairs
It’s a struggle to identify whether your chimney is or is not working well. To help you assess your chimney, here are some signs you should look for if it needs repair.
Deteriorated mortar joints
There are various reasons why mortar joints happen to your masonry chimneys. Deterioration is inevitable. It can be an avenue for water and moisture, which may cause further damage. Check for in-between brick cracks, and if you notice one, make sure to attend to it as soon as possible. The chimney has a high chance of collapsing if you aren’t able to address the problem immediately.
In some cases, you can’t spot the damaged bricks on the surface. Therefore, look for the damages and deterioration on the interior and in the firebox.
Efflorescence is the white stains on your chimney. It is common to find crystalline salt deposits on concrete, brick, and natural stone surfaces. When you notice that your chimney has these salt deposits, it may be because of a moisture problem, loose flashing, or damaged chimney flue liner. Make sure to check for this indicator as it can lead to brick and mortar deterioration.
Like any other stuff, rust is an early sign of damage. Therefore, removing the rust as early as possible is essential to prevent the damage from worsening. Until something stops working correctly, such as a seal or a damper fails to operate, most people are unaware of their rust problem. To check for rust, a chimney inspection is your best option. An
Spalling is when water penetration occurs and damages the chimney bricks, tearing them apart. Further, old age, high-powered pressure washers, harsh weather conditions, and low-quality are other spalling causes.
Chimney crown damage
Rain, snow, or other animals? No worries, a chimney crown can protect you from that. However, your chimney crown also gets damaged and cracked. When it’s broken, water can seep in, freeze and thaw, leading to cracks. In addition, moisture can enter the chimney and permeate the liner, causing spalling, and shaling. It would be better to weatherproof your crown to avoid worst-case scenarios.
Flashing serves as an additional layer of water protection; however, if you notice leaks, your flashing is damaged. You may experience water damage if you find rust, holes, or areas where the flashing has worn down. Be attentive to your metal sheet flashing as minor repairs can remedy small damages. However, it would still be best to replace it.
What are the Must-Have Tools to Repair a Cracked Chimney
Make sure to have these tools on hand; you will need these for your chimney repair.
- High-heat mortar
- Masonry sealer
- Latex gloves
- Tuckpointing tool
- Masonry Chisel
- Pointing trowel
- Joint Raker
- Wire Brush
- Garden Hose
- Caulk gun
- Putty knife
Just a reminder, put safety gear when performing the repair to keep you away from threats and risks. Safety glasses and harnesses are a must!
How to Repair a Chimney
If there is minor chimney damage, it is not necessary to do all the steps. A minor brick chimney repair could do the job; however, it would still be best to inspect the chimney.
Step 1: Repointing
Repointing your chimney brick mortar would be your first step. Repointing is the process of taking out the crumbly mortar, then replacing it with a new batch of mortar. Since mortar is softer than bricks, Your mortar will inevitably wear down first as it is more delicate than bricks.
A joint raker would be enough to scuff off weak mortar; however, you need a masonry chisel and hammer for a more rigid crumbly mortar. It would be best to handle this gently and thoroughly as you don’t want to scrape out the good mortar. Further, use your wire brush to wipe the residual mortar.
After watering the brick and letting it sit for 30 minutes, ensure to dry check the roof first. Moving forward, mix the fresh mortar until it has a peanut butter-like consistency, and make sure it matches the existing ones. You can use a pointing trowel to press the mortar into the open joints.
Finishing the repointing step would be smoothing down the joints. Ideally, the joint should be concave and recessed slightly from the brick surface. Use your tuckpointing tool for this process.
Step 2: Caulking
Your chimney crown and flue serve as your extra protection against water. However, gaps may eventually appear after some time, allowing water to enter. As a result of the water seeping in, it will damage not only the crown but also the flue.
And caulking would be the answer to this chimney problem. Caulking is the process of sealing a gap using a sealant or a waterproof filler. Start by removing the loose mortar and other debris. Then, proceed to fill this gap with a complete bead of caulk using a caulk gun and a tube of high-heat mortar.
Step 3: Repair cracked bricks
For this step, you will need a screwdriver to clean out the crack. Then, using a wire brush, sweep the crack clean. And then proceed to fill the gap with high-heat mortar. Squeeze and force it as much as you can. Though, if the damage is extensive, the mortar won’t extend very far. However, if there are only thin cracks, brushing them using a masonry sealer would be enough. And then, wipe the mortar clean using your gloved finger, and then clear the surrounding area of the crack using a rag.
Bricks tend to crack, no matter what the reason is. What’s good about it is that you can repair individual chimney bricks with small cracks as soon as you identify the issue.
Step 4: Replace cracked bricks.
While you can address minor brick cracks with a repair, severely damaged bricks may require a replacement brick. This is why you should never neglect your cracked bricks, as you will need more money, time, and energy for the replacement. Luckily, you can remove one brick without affecting the entire structure and other bricks.
Remove the mortar in between bricks carefully using a masonry chisel. To create holes in the mortar, you should use a drill and masonry bit. This will speed up the process and enable you to reach farther back. Remove the brick by hand after it is loosened. To make the adjacent bricks smooth, chip away any bits of mortar with the chisel.
Moreover, butter each side of the replacement brick with mortar with a small trowel, excluding the front and back. Set the new brick in place properly and carefully. Align the seams evenly along each edge. A tuckpointing tool will help you smooth out any joints and remove any excess mortar.
Step 5: Patching cracks
For larger cracks on the crown, use a pre-mixed cement patch or mortar to fix it. You can squeeze the repair mixture into the gap or push it into the crack with a putty knife. In most cases, a crack takes four to six hours to cure, but a wider crack may take longer.
On the other side, for spider cracks or hairline cracks, you can use a masonry sealer (make sure it has a high liquid consistency). Make sure not to enlarge the damage by scraping away loose particles with the corner of the putty knife. Use a brush to apply the sealer undiluted. For an average-sized crown, one gallon is enough to cover two coats. Plus, the porous crown will be sealed up in all other areas, preventing further hairline cracks.
Need help? Ask a professional
While all the procedures appear easy to read, they can sometimes be hard to execute correctly. And suppose the chimney repair is not done correctly. In that case, homeowners may get exposed to further harm and damages, which may increase the possibility of chimney fires.
So, if you are not confident with the knowledge you possess on chimney repair, it would be best to entrust the job with a professional masonry restoration service company. They have the skills and expertise to do any type of chimney repair and restoration with the highest standard quality. Call an expert now!