Our Company Blog

What is Tuckpointing, Repointing, and Spalling?

There are many things that can go wrong with your masonry chimney over the years, and water is your chimney’s number one enemy. No matter how well-your chimney is constructed, time and weather can lead to damage called spalling. Many homes experience spalling, though not all homeowners know what it’s called, how to identify it, or what to do about it. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we can help!

Spalling Masonry

sweep carrying ladderWhen mortars crack, flake, and fall away, the bricks can become unstable and even loosen completely. This is called spalling, and it can eventually result in crumbling brick and mortar, which can become a serious hazard if you don’t address it timely. If you notice cracking mortar, gapped masonry, or brick pieces on the roof or yard below, you need to call a certified professional right away to address the proper repairs.

Repairing Spalling Masonry

The only way to properly repair spalling masonry is by carefully removing the affected bricks and mortar. A certified chimney sweep will mix new mortar to match the old mortar in strength, consistency, and color. This step is extremely important because failing to match the mortar exactly will result in a weak chimney. Once the mortar is mixed, the bricks are replaced and the result is a fully restored chimney that shows no evidence of a repair.

When the job is done improperly, it can detract from the look of the chimney and decrease your home’s value. This entire process is called tuckpointing or repointing. Only certified professionals should do it, and most amateurs don’t have the proper skills to do it. When you’re scheduling these important services, it’s important to choose chimney experts who have plenty of experience and knowledge of all types of masonry.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep Fixes Masonry

No matter the size of your chimney or the type of stone, we can help repair it. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we have the experience and the technique to get even the toughest jobs done. We know which materials to use and how so that your chimney will expand and contract as necessary. Do you think your chimney masonry needs some attention? Schedule a chimney inspection with our team so that your system is safe and ready for fall.

In addition to tuckpointing, we also repair crowns, flue liners, and leaks. Our team of expert technicians doesn’t just repair damage; we correct the problem that caused the damage in the first place. In order to prevent such damage before it starts, we also offer waterproofing services for all masonry structures.

Our vapor-permeable water repellent allows the chimney to breathe while keeping water molecules from getting through. This product penetrates deeply into the masonry, protecting it and preventing water leaks year after year. Don’t just repair masonry damage, let us help you prevent it. Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep at 617-469-4528 or request an appointment online.

Common Masonry Repairs Before Winter

As summer begins to quickly fade away, it’s time now to bring attention to your chimney before winter is upon us. Among all the repairs and other activities associated with the warmer summer months, it is hard to think about preparing the upcoming winter. That feeling is completely understandable! However, there are a few reasons why you should focus some attention on your chimney at this time of the year.

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Why should I have to get it repaired?

Your chimney, built in the masonry style, is built of porous materials such as concrete, brick, mortar, and stone. Think of it similar to a sponge in the way they hold water. Though they appear to stand the test of time, without proper care they can begin to crack as the processes of freezing and thawing expands, and then contracts, the masonry. Over time this leads to bricks loosening, and eventually the entire chimney will collapse. As you can tell, winter can be very hard on your chimney. With the addition of intense use of your fireplace during those months, it can amass a variety of problems… that are then ignored over the summer months as it goes unused. It is a vicious cycle!

Besides the expansion and contraction that occurs when water freezes and then thaws in the masonry, water also causes a lot of damage and deterioration to any metal or wood materials that it accesses on the interior of your chimney and in your fireplace such as:

  • Dampers
  • Flue lining system
  • Proximal wood flooring and wall coverings
  • Fireplace accessories

What can I do about it?

Chimney Caps:

Preventing water from damaging your chimney is absolutely essential for the long life of your chimney. Well-designed chimney caps are made of enduring, reliable material that can resist corrosion as well as keep birds and other animals out and off of your chimney. Though there are options that only provide partial coverage, a full coverage chimney cap is an investment that will provide the most protection long-term.

Tuckpointing:

For masonry that does lose mortar during the hard winter months due to temperature fluctuation, tuckpointing is a relatively simple process of tucking mortar into damaged areas. Not only does it reinforce the structure of your chimney, but it is more aesthetically pleasing as well.

Chimney Crown Replacement/Repair:

The crown is absolutely essential in directing water away from the flue and to the edge of the chimney so that it won’t erode any mortar or brick. If your crown is cracked or damaged in any way, the rate of chimney degradation gets increasingly higher.

Chimney Waterproofing:

We have learned that water is very damaging to both the exterior and interior of your chimney. Using a waterproofing treatment is a preventative measure against many of the above issues, as well as allows your chimney to release water vapors that it contains in the masonry while keeping additional water out.

Make your appointment online with us and learn more about your chimney at billysweetchimneysweep.com.

Dangers of Neglecting Chimney Maintenance

At first glance, chimneys seem very robust. They live outside all year, exposed to the elements, and can withstand hundreds of degrees worth of heat, fire after fire. Despite all of this, however, chimneys do need some regular care to keep up with these high demands. Industry experts strongly recommend having the chimney swept and inspected at least once every year and for good reason. Failure to keep up with chimney maintenance can have some devastating consequences.

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For wood burning fireplaces and stoves, the chimney will contain a buildup of a material called creosote. This black, tarry material clings to the surface of the chimney and can build up to the point of blocking air flow. Creosote is also highly flammable and is the cause of many destructive chimney fires. It burns at a much higher temperature than wood or gas, and once burning, it can be very difficult to extinguish. To keep your home and family safe, having a chimney sweep remove the creosote is imperative.

Debris found in the chimney can also take the form of an obstruction that reduces or blocks the flow of air. A common obstruction in the chimney is an animal and its nest. Warm chimneys attract small animals like birds, squirrels and raccoons that need a cozy space to wait out the winter. Unfortunately, this means trouble for the home owner. When the toxic fumes from the fire cannot escape through the chimney, they end up in the house. Not only does the creosote and soot leave messy, black residue on walls and furniture, but this lack of ventilation can actually be dangerous. Carbon monoxide, a product of combustion, can cause death when inhaled in high enough concentrations. It also has no color, smell, or taste, making it impossible to detect without relying on a special detector. To avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide from the fireplace, have a chimney sweep out every year.

Chimney inspections should also be done every year. The inspector examines the chimney from inside the house and from the roof to determine its structural soundness. A common problem that inspectors uncover is water damage. In a masonry chimney, water can enter the brick and mortar and cause cracking or even collapse. In all types of chimneys, water can also cause damage to the interior. If the flue lining is made of metal, water exposure can lead to rusted cracks or holes, which then exposes the house to further water damage, carbon monoxide leaks, and potential house fires. A simple inspection could determine if the chimney cap needs to be replaced, which can prevent these problems most of the time.

All in all, failure to keep up with chimney maintenance could cost you money in repairs, your house, and even your life. Instead of risking it, just call to schedule your annual sweep and inspection today. If you live near Boston, Massachusetts or Portland, Maine, contact Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep to speak with a professional.