If you live in an older home with its original chimney, it's probably a matter of time before the chimney needs to be repaired. The mortar between the bricks is usually first to show signs of wear. If you notice cracked, chipped, or missing mortar, you should schedule masonry repairs before the damage escalates. Here's a look at what causes mortar damage and how it's repaired.

The Causes Of Mortar Damage

Mortar is the weak part of masonry work. It deteriorates or sustains damage, and in doing so, it protects the bricks. If the soil shifts slightly, mortar crumbles first, so the bricks stay safe unless there is major soil shifting. The weather also plays a role in mortar damage due to the freezing and thaw cycle. Mortar damage is fairly common whether the house is old or new, especially in a chimney since it is exposed to the elements high on the roof. Rain, hail, freezing weather, strong wind, and flying debris take their toll over the years.

The Danger Of Weak Mortar

Damaged mortar should be repaired as quickly as possible because damage to the chimney can escalate otherwise. The mortar keeps water out of the bricks. When there is mortar missing or when there is a large crack in it, water leaks into the structure of the chimney. If the water in the cracks freezes, this causes expansion of the crack and further damage.

Over time, the water damage weakens more mortar, and the brick near it gets loose. Once one brick is loose or falls out, then others get loose too. Your chimney could develop problems with bricks that are missing, loose, or cracked due to shifting from the damaged mortar.

The Repair Process

It's possible to repair damaged mortar. It's messy and meticulous work, but it can save your chimney. First, the old mortar is removed with a saw or other tool. Then, the area is cleaned of all the dust created. New mortar is pressed between the bricks and allowed to dry. Repairing the chimney might require spot work, or it might need extensive mortar repair. By having repairs done as soon as they're needed, you can often prevent extensive damage so that repairs go quicker and are less expensive.

Since you may not go on your roof very often yourself, be sure to have a chimney inspection yearly so the condition of the bricks and mortar can be checked. If you have a brick home, you should check the walls for signs of mortar cracking and chipping too so repairs can be done when they're needed. For more information, contact a company like Sposato Masonry.