Tuckpointing is the process of removing old damaged mortar and repairing the chimney by replacing with new, fresh mortar in the masonry mortar joints on rock masonry blocks, stone or bricks. When done correctly, the new mortar will provide strong, water-resistant joints and match the existing masonry texture and color.
Steps to proper tuckpointing:
This work is best done by a Certified Chimney Sweep®. Chimney sweeps are not regulated and anyone can claim to be a chimney sweep. However, choosing someone that has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America ensures you are working with a professionally trained chimney sweep.
If you’ve been told by a professional chimney sweep that you need some tuckpointing done, you are most likely wondering why. Hopefully they gave you a good answer and you are just double checking here.
Masonry work requires routine maintenance. A good masonry chimney can hold up well for 100+ years, if it is annually inspected, occasionally sealed, and usually remains dry throughout the year. However, you probably haven’t lived in your house for 100 years nor do you know the maintenance of the previous owners. Sometimes home inspectors do not do thorough chimney inspections so you may not have learned about chimney troubles during the home inspection process.
If you live in an area like we do here in the far western Chicago suburbs, your masonry work has the worst of the weather. Not only does it get bitter cold with strong winds here in Illinois, like it does further north as well, but the drastic flux of temperature (with some rain, sleet, snow and sometimes hot sun thrown in) during the spring and autumn months is the real burden on your chimney’s structure. This up and down is what wears away the mortar on the chimney and will cause the need for tuckpointing.
Annual chimney cleaning and inspection (we can’t say this enough) is very important. Not only does your chimney sweep inspect your chimney, but they log any issues – including the progression of any potential cracks and concerns – and will advise you as to normal wear-and-tear versus serious safety concerns. They can save you money by recommending repairs sooner than later.
The alternative to tuckpointing is replacing a chimney and that is certainly not a less expensive option. However, if you don’t yet require tuckpointing, you could avoid it by maintaining and keeping your chimney in tip top condition.