If your historic brick home has a brick chimney, spring is the right time to consider the need for a chimney repair. Deteriorating brick-mortar isn’t just a cosmetic problem, but rather a serious potential source of water leaks into your home. The exposed mortar in many Washington DC brick chimneys is particularly vulnerable to weather damage.
How Can I Tell if My Chimney is in Bad Shape?
If you have a working chimney that is inspected and/or cleaned on a regular basis, your contractor will test the mortar joints as part of the inspection. If you have a decorative chimney and prefer a DIY approach, you can visually inspect the exposed area and look for signs of failing or missing mortar joints between the bricks. You may need to follow up by performing a probing test with a small knife. If mortar is loose, crumbling, or falls out easily with digging, it is in need of repair or restoration.
What Are My Options for Brick Chimney Repair?
Chimney repair in a historic home - generally those that were build before World War II - depends on the condition of the bricks. A process known as tuckpointing, or repointing, involves removing and replacing some of the old mortar with lime-based mortar. Some chimneys require repair and replacement of loosened and damaged bricks. In severe cases the entire structure might need replacement.
Why Do You Have to Use Lime Mortar?
Historic DC brick homes built in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries were constructed of clay coal-fired bricks assembled with lime mortar. Lime mortar is completely different from cement or concrete in both composition structure and level of hardness/softness. The modern building materials are best suited for new construction, not renovation of historic masonry structures. Traditional masonry materials and methods used in brick restoration will ensure continuing structural integrity for decades to come.
"I would highly recommend them [Renaissance Development]. The owner Christina was very personable...understood what the problems were and basically gave me a lesson in tuck pointing. JJ came out check things out, brought a ladder to get on top of the roof, he was great. Nelson and his crew ...were professional, did a beautiful job on the brickwork. Pricing was very reasonably. I am very pleased with the services." -Angie's list member 2013