While most people believe that brick homes are virtually maintenance-free, this may not be entirely true. Sometimes, the mortar joints of the bricks wear away or become damaged, necessitating the application of new mortar to replace the old, in order to maintain the integrity of the bricks. This process is known as tuckpointing, and requires the skill of an experienced masonry contractor. Here are three tuckpointing facts you need to know if you own a brick home:
Signs Your Masonry Needs Tuckpointing
Masonry problems on your brick structure need to be recognized and addressed early before bigger problems have the chance to develop. If your home shows any of the following signs, it may need tuckpointing:
- Gaps or holes in the mortar work
- White material on the masonry
- Cracks in the mortar
- Cracks in the bricks
While the need to have your home tuckpointed can be identified simply by looking at the structure, this is not always the case. A masonry professional may need to use a special tool to scrape the bricks to determine if the mortar cracks or is otherwise decomposing.
If you have an older home, cleaning the bricks with a pressure washer set to low may be necessary to clean away the dirt so that the mortar joints can be better assessed. Do not set your power washer on the highest setting because this can further damage the mortar.
How It's Done
If you're a professional "do-it-yourselfer," and want to make an attempt at tuckpointing your home, you'll need to know the basics so that you can determine if it is something you feel comfortable doing, or if you should hire a professional.
To repair damaged mortar, you'll need to remove the affected portions, taking care not to damage the bricks during the process. You will need to remove the amount of mortar to coincide with the amount of new mortar that you will be reapplying, to ensure that everything fits in the way that it originally did prior to the removal of the damaged mortar.
After the damaged mortar has been removed, the empty space needs to cleaned and prepared so that the fresh mortar can be put it. Before adding the new, you'll need to ensure that it matches both in strength and color to the mortar you removed. If you're not sure how to match the new to the old, a professional can conduct specific tests to help determine which type of mortar you need to properly complete the job.
How Often You Should Tuckpoint
How often you should tuckpoint your brick home depends largely on a number of factors. Home Advisor, explains, "cracks, voids, crumbling mortar, or even areas of mortar from settling or foundation problems are common in masonry work from general exposure to the elements after 25-30 years."
Also, if you live in a climate that experiences intense freezing and thaw cycles, these problems may develop earlier. Regardless of the time frame, if the mortar has large holes in it, or if it is missing in certain areas, tuckpointing should be considered.
If your home shows signs of mortar damage, call a masonry expert to determine if tuckpointing will be necessary. Many masonry professionals will come to your home and provide you with a complementary inspection of the structure.
The contractor will climb up a ladder to inspect all areas of the home, including the chimney, as this is one of the areas most likely to sustain mortar damage. You will also get a written report on the findings of the inspection so that you will know the extent of the damages and the estimated costs