What Is Chimney Repointing

what is chimney repointing
what is chimney repointing
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Are you wondering what is chimney repointing? If so, you’re in the right place because that’s what we’re going to talk about in this article.

A brick chimney may look solid, but it won’t last forever. Chimneys are exposed to the elements – sun, rain, wind, snow, sleet, hail – and eventually, bricks, and the mortar between them, will start to deteriorate. When that happens, the chimney will need to be repointed.

In this article, we’ll talk about what chimney repointing is, tuckpointing vs. repointing (is there a difference?), why mortar and bricks deteriorate, and more.

What Is Chimney Repointing?

Chimney repointing simply means removing the old, damaged mortar between the bricks and replacing it with new mortar. Mortar needs to be replaced because it doesn’t last forever. Exposure to the elements, and seasonal weather that fluctuates between hot and cold, will eventually cause the mortar to deteriorate. When this happens, it weakens the chimney, and problems start to develop. For example, deteriorating mortar can create a way for water to enter and damage the flue.

The bricks themselves don’t last forever, either. However, bricks generally last a lot longer than the mortar between them. Even poor-quality bricks will usually last longer than the mortar.

For more information about bricks see, Repairing A Brick Foundation.

Tuckpointing vs. Repointing

Tuckpointing is not the same thing as repointing. However, the two terms are often used to mean the same thing.

While repointing is a repair procedure to remove and replace damaged mortar, tuckpointing is a cosmetic procedure. However, before we explain tuckpointing, let’s talk about mortar joints because this will help you understand tuckpointing.

What’s a mortar joint?

A mortar joint is the space between the bricks that’s filled with mortar. Different styles of mortar joints can be created depending on what suits your fancy.

What’s a mortar joint?
What is tuckpointing?

Tuckpointing is a procedure done in order to make the mortar joints look thinner for aesthetic reasons. While some restoration work might be involved – crumbling mortar might be removed, for example – tuckpointing is a cosmetic procedure.

The thinner-looking joint is created using two different colors of mortar, one that matches the brick and one that’s lighter in color. This creates the appearance – illusion, really – that the joint between the bricks is thinner than it is in reality.

If all that sounds somewhat confusing, the video below will clear things up.

What is repointing?

As we noted above, repointing is the process of removing the deteriorating mortar and replacing it with new mortar. Repointing is a common repair done to make the chimney stronger and more resistant to water penetration. While repointing is not a cosmetic procedure, it will improve the appearance of a brick chimney.

What About Chimney Rebuilding?

Sometimes a chimney needs more than just repointing and will need to be rebuilt, either partially from the roofline up, or completely. However, this kind of damage doesn’t happen overnight unless there has been a natural disaster. It takes years of severe neglect.

Why Does Chimney Mortar Deteriorate?

Chimney mortar deteriorates for various reasons, including:

  • Exposure to the elements: rain, wind, pollution, snow, hail, ice, etc.
  • Moisture in the mortar along with the seasonal freeze-thaw cycle
  • Differential settlement in the building with the chimney
  • Exhaust produced by the fireplace

While poor-quality mortar or artistry will cause mortar to deteriorate more quickly, all mortar will eventually deteriorate.

Signs Your Chimney Needs Repointing

Signs your chimney needs repointing include:

  • Visible deterioration of the mortar joints. The mortar might be crumbling, loose, flaking, cracked, etc.
  • Water stains on the chimney
  • Water stains inside the house where the chimney attaches to the house.
  • These might be caused by water leaking through the mortar joints.
  • Falling debris

How Much Does It Cost To Repoint A Chimney?

It’s impossible to say how much it’ll cost to repoint a chimney without an inspection. The cost will depend on your geographical location, the severity of the damage, chimney size, etc. We can say, though, that repointing a chimney is less expensive than rebuilding a chimney.

The best way to save money on chimney repointing is to get your chimney inspected at least once per year. If you catch problems early, you’ll save on repairs.

How To Prevent Chimney Problems

You can prevent problems with your home’s chimney by:

  • Scheduling yearly inspections
  • Cleaning the chimney on a regular basis. This is necessary to remove creosote build-up, a serious fire hazard.
  • Waterproofing the chimney. This prevents water from entering the chimney through the bricks and the mortar.

When it comes to chimney repointing, it pays to get a yearly chimney inspection and catch problems early. If repointing is necessary, get it done right away because it will protect the bricks from moisture. If you wait, the problem will worsen, and you’ll pay more for the repair.

If you think your home’s chimney might need repointing and you’re in our service area – Hampton Roads and the surrounding areas in Virginia – contact us today, and we’ll come out for an inspection and then give you a repointing estimate.


Mariel McClung

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