Chimneys seem like simple structures to the common person. They’re just made of bricks and are expected to last forever. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to them than that. Neglected chimneys or those affected by moisture need to undergo masonry repair in order to restore them to their best conditions. So what kind of work is done on chimneys?
Maintaining the chimney crown is one of the most essential masonry repair jobs there is. A chimney crown is a structure that covers the top of the chimney and should extend at least two inches over its edge. Its purpose is to keep things like water and animals from getting into the chimney flue. If your chimney crown needs repairing, this job can be done using a crown coat sealant. It’s not the most difficult job but it’s a very important one.
In case you haven’t already taken the hint, chimneys, in general, don’t appreciate the presence of any water or moisture and the fireplace is no exception. Water can cause what is known as spalling, which is particularly harmful to fireplaces. It’s important to check your fireplace and chimney regularly for signs of water damage. A leaking pipe near the fireplace could create serious consequences. If the damage is present, then it might be necessary to rebuild your fireplace.
You’ve probably never heard of the term tuckpointing unless you’ve worked as a chimney sweep or you’re in the construction business. Tuckpointing is simply removing damaged mortar from a chimney and replacing it with an almost identical but new mortar. New mortar should match the old for reasons of consistency, color, and durability.
What causes damage to the mortar? Water is our usual suspect, but there are other elements involved. If it was poorly installed, to begin with, then you can’t expect it to last as long. Weather and insects are other factors too. Of course, even if everything is perfect, age has its own detrimental effect. In order to maintain the structural integrity of the chimney, the new mortar has to match the old one perfectly. That’s why tuckpointing takes time and is one of the toughest jobs to complete.
Since it’s where the fire burns, the firebox has to be built with refractory firebricks and mortars that can handle high temperatures while insulating surrounding structures at the same time. Never light a fire in a damaged firebox or you could risk getting the fire spread to nearby structures and walls. Inspect the firebox every year, maybe at the beginning of winter, before using it for safety reasons. If you can’t tell whether it’s in good shape or not, you can always call a professional to come and take a look. In case there’s damage, then some restoration is needed.
Masonry repair includes lots of categories and fixing chimneys is certainly one of them. While chimneys look solid and stand tall, they still need repair and maintenance every now and then.