What is Tuckpointing and Why is it Needed?
If you’re a homeowner with a fireplace, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to your chimney. It’s a good, solid structure made of brick and mortar, so it’ll last for the life of your home, right?
Unfortunately, that’s wrong. Chimneys have a general “life-expectancy,” and it’s not as long as people typically think. Good bricks should last about 100 years, but the mortar that holds them together might be ready for some repair work in 25 or fewer years. This chimney repair process is called “tuckpointing.”
Why is tuckpointing necessary?
Tuckpointing is essentially the repair of a chimney. This need arises in part due to the age of the chimney’s components and also because of our harsh winters. Ice can cause a relatively fast deterioration of stone, brick and cement masonry. When this damage occurs, moisture can enter the chimney and lead to a host of expensive and potentially dangerous problems.
How tuckpointing works
The replacement of cracked bricks and/or mortar is called tuckpointing. It should only be undertaken by individuals with specific skill in chimney inspection and repair. The goal is to give your chimney another 25 or more years of life. If performed incorrectly, you might not reach this goal.
Proper tuckpointing involves grinding out the old, disintegrating mortar and replacing it with new mortar. How involved the job is will be based on the level of damage the chimney has sustained. Some tuckpointing projects are fairly simple – if the situation has been caught early enough. When severe damage is present, tuckpointing can be a very complex process.
How masonry deteriorates
The mortar and bricks that make up a chimney weren’t intended to last forever. Harsh winters and season after season of fireplace use will eventually cause mortar to weaken and allow moisture in, which usually leads to the deterioration of surrounding bricks. You can test the soundness of the mortar by scraping a key or other semi-sharp object across it. If it crumbles or flakes, it’s time for some repair work.
Problems that can arise because of worn-out chimney materials include interior damage to the chimney, mold and algae growth, a buildup of substances that can be highly flammable and more. You can prevent these problems by having your chimney and fireplace inspected regularly and having tuckpointing performed if the inspection turns up a level of damage that could be considered unsafe.
As noted, all chimney repair work should be handled by experienced service personnel to ensure that every base is covered and that the job is completed properly.
Hudson Valley Chimney has provided chimney inspection, cleaning and repair services to residents of the Hudson Valley in New York since 1976. If you believe your chimney may be ready for some critical repair work, call (845) 471-1071 to arrange a thorough inspection.