A lesser-known fact about masonry is that tuck pointing can add decades of life to aging structures, saving big bucks on home repairs. When water penetrates above your head at your chimney, the first thing that comes to mind is that the roof is leaking. This may be true. However, odds are, your masonry may have deteriorated to the point that rain and snowmelt can infiltrate your chimney.
Brickwork is solid by nature. Why do chimneys need tuck pointing maintenance?
True, masonry offers a strong, durable structure not quickly damaged by ordinary weather, storms and fire. If it didn’t, brick homes would be as readily affordable as any other. But the operative word here is “quickly.” Mother Nature eventually destroys everything, including bricks and mortar. While bricks and blocks may hold up for a century or more, the mortar between weakens to the point of failure after about 30 years or so. Add to that wet weather and invasive growths such as moss and mold/mildew, and the joints may fail even sooner.
Tuck pointing, when the mortar begins to crumble, returns life to an old chimney at much less expense than a partial or total rebuild.
What is Tuck Pointing?
Think of tuck pointing as tucking new mortar between bricks using the point of a trowel or specialized tool, hence the name. Tuck pointing is the process of removing old, disintegrating mortar from the brick joints and replacing it with new. No healthy bricks need be removed during the repair. Because it’s usually only necessary to remove about three-quarters of an inch of mortar depth, the bricks above still have support while the tuck pointing repair proceeds.
Once the technician digs or grinds out the old mortar, a fresh new batch of concrete goes into the joints. Then it is smoothed, trimmed and made to match the technique used on the rest of the joints. If the shade of repair stands out, not to worry, weather will soon blend in the new mortar.
Fissures in the earliest stages benefit from a less intrusive measure by applying an appropriate caulk or putty.
What Do You Gain by Tuck pointing?
Like other components of your home, a chimney in need of repair impacts you in a variety of ways.
Re-sale value of homes suffer when they stand in need of repairs. A well-maintained chimney reassures potential buyers that they will have no surprises around the chimney should they buy your house. If you keep the masonry in good condition with the roof and the rest of the home, you can maximize the price you can fetch at sale.
A strong, neat chimney adds to the visual beauty of your home’s exterior, as does the roof, of course.
A more immediate benefit comes from the protection of leaks by eliminating cracks and holes in the mortar that allow water penetration. This alone can save untold dollars to repair interior damage. Once a leak starts, a heavy storm can wreak havoc on your ceiling and walls around the fireplace.
Leaks can also sneak into your chimney without detection, rusting out the damper and encouraging growth of mold and mildew.
Prevention of a Total Rebuild
Finally, left to decay without repair, the chimney may eventually need to be completely re-built. The time, cost and effort involved far outpaces the cost of regular preventive maintenance.
Although tuck pointing may seem an obscure concept in preserving the value and function of your home, when it comes to your brick chimney, it can save you extensive repair bills and support its market appeal.
Would you like to know the condition of your chimney? Exterior Building Solutions can assess the health of your chimney or other masonry and render an honest opinion if it’s in good condition, or a fair estimate if it displays signs of decomposition. Please call us to schedule a free consultation today.