When a chimney’s mortar is cracking, missing, or deteriorating, chimney repointing will need to be done. Chimney repointing is the process of removing degraded mortar from the joints of a masonry chimney and replacing it with new mortar. If done well, the chimney’s structure will be strengthened and its lifetime greatly extended. If done incorrectly, the chimney’s structure will be compromised, it’s appearance marred and it’s life span only moderately extended.
If neglected, water from the outside will penetrate the chimney’s wall. As the water freezes and then thaws during the year, it expands and contracts leading to the deterioration of the masonry. The water can also facilitate the process of “efflorescence” in which salts are crystallised and cause the masonry to degrade as a consequence.
Chimney repointing will need to be performed as well if the masonry has been repointed incorrectly in the past. The mortar in the repointed area may not match, it may be too hard, or it may not allow water vapour to escape, which will also cause the masonry to crumble. It is critical that the correct mortar mix is used as most chimneys need a specific mortar mix. This mix should be designed and customised by a licensed, insured, knowledgeable, and experienced chimney mason such as ourselves.
To ensure that the chimney repointing project is properly performed, the mortar joints to be repaired must first be prepared to accept the new mortar. When the appropriate mortar recipe has been selected for the chimney, it must be mixed properly. The process will depend on the recipe. Suction, or the transfer of water from the wet mortar into the masonry, must be controlled as the new mortar is applied. The correct tools and procedures must be observed to ensure the mortar is firmly compacted into the mortar joints. Curing conditions for the mortar like sunlight, temperature, humidity, and wind must be controlled as much as possible after the mortar has been applied. Lastly, the more complicated the project, the more likely a trained and experienced mason will need to be hired.
A chimney cap is usually a steel or copper cover that comes in different shapes and colours and should be chosen based on the style and needs of the chimney. At Byron Spillard Roofing we’ll determine the proper size for the chimney cap to ensure it remains in place all year round. Chimney caps serve several purposes.
- Prohibit damage to the interior from elements such as snow and rain
- Prevent fire sparks from escaping from the chimney and landing on the roof
- Keeps birds, squirrels and other animals from entering your home or setting up a nest inside the chimney
- Seal off unused chimneys
Chimneys and chimney breasts are often removed by homeowners because they wish to alter their property and removing the flues can be in effective way of enlarging rooms. In older properties it was common for there to be fireplaces in every room so as to provide heat.
Since the 1970’s however, central heating has become the norm in properties, In fact the number of UK households that do not have central heating now stands at less than 7%. Some homeowners view fireplaces, whether in use or not, as welcome aesthetic additions to their home, however, for others, they are regarded as taking up too much floor and room space.
If you are thinking of removing one or more chimney breasts, there are a number of points that you will need to consider. The chimney forms part of the original structure of a house and so it’s removal needs to be carefully considered. If chimneys are removed without the structure being supported by the insertion of suitable beams, then this may result in structural distress, damage or even collapse of the building.
It may be possible to remove chimney breasts without affecting the strength of the wall. However, for larger buildings, it’s necessary to check the strength of the wall to ensure reinforcement isn’t required.