The first thing that needs to be repaired in an old chimney is usually ailing mortar joints. If you let the cracked and decaying mortar between your chimney's bricks remain, significant water damage and mold infiltration is sure to follow. Before you apply a new mortar layer between your bricks, these three tips for chipping off old mortar without damaging your chimney will come in handy.
If You're Inexperienced, Use A Tuck Pointer Instead Of An Angle Grinder
A tuck pointer is a thin metal rod ideal for breaking a small section of mortar. An angle grinder is shaped like a saw and great for quickly grinding down an entire horizontal mortar line. However, it's also hard to use without dislodging too much mortar and causing structural issues, especially if the surface that needs work is old and fragile.
Since an old chimney is both delicate and relatively small in size, it doesn't make much sense to risk using a heavy and violent machine like an angle grinder if you don't have plenty of experience using it. Whether you're buying or renting your tools, a tuck pointer is also much cheaper.
Remove The Mortar In The Smallest Chunks You Can Carve Out
If you concentrate on cutting out really large mortar chunks, there's a good chance that one or more of them will cause secondary cracks deeper in the chimney. In serious cases, these internal cracks can lead to part of your chimney collapsing in on itself before you can apply a new mortar layer.
So try to only break the mortar you intend to remove into small and easily manageable chunks. Working in this way will also remove the temptation to hammer your tuck pointer into the chimney too hard.
Be Particularly Careful When Working On Corners
Corners are more vulnerable than anywhere else on your chimney to structural collapse from you chipping off too much mortar. Therefore, while you should be careful no matter where on the chimney you're working, corners deserve particular care and attention.
If you're not fully confident in your mortar chipping abilities yet, feel free to save corner bricks for last. By the time you've cleared all the mortar you wanted off the other bricks, you should have a good grasp on the right amount of force to use.
While chipping old mortar off of a chimney can be a very time consuming job, it can also be a very enjoyable one. As long as you're aware of the dangers involved with working on the mortar too aggressively, your task should be fairly straightforward.
For more information, contact Excel Chimney & Fireplace Service or a similar company.