Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Repointing Brick

Over the Christmas break, my husband and I took on some winter projects around the house.  We made the inital steps to organize the basement by purchasing a few of these shelving units, and we repointed the brickwork on an old chimney in the attic.

Let me just say that before we bought this house, I didn't know a single thing about brickwork (why would I?).  But living in this place is like taking a college course in home maintenance, with some major hands-on work.  And, I get to share all of my new found knowledge with you!

What does it mean to "repoint" brick?  Repointing brick is a process of replacing mortar that has deteriorated between brick joints.  Basically, brick masonry can last over 100 years.  However, if it's exposed to extreme elements (like regular water penetration), the soft mortar between the bricks can erode and cause severe structural damage.  In our case, an old roof leak had left one of our chimneys in pretty bad shape.  The joints between the brick had completely eroded and a nearby support beam was starting to rot.

up close and personal with our nasty chimney.  see the rotted beam, mineral deposits, and eroded mortar... all are a result of water damage (from a previous roof leak).

mineral deposits and a rotting support beam

my husband raking away old, crumbling mortar (to make way for the new mortar).
after the mortar clean up, we removed the rotted beam.

I'm sorry, I didn't take any pictures of the mortar mix.  The ratio of your mix is very important when repointing brick-- you'll need the right combination of lime and sand (we used about 3 parts sand and one part lime putty).  If the mix is too hard, it can fight with your brick and cause even more damage.

Here is what the chimney looks like after the repair...

Since this chimney will be hidden behind the walls of the 3rd floor, we didn't take too much time making it look pretty.  However, you can remove some of the excess mortar with a mild acid wash.

repointed brickwork

my husband, securing the new beam (to replace the rotted one).

All done!

As you can see in these images, the 3rd floor and attic have new insulation!  I have yet to post about the new insulation, but promise to do so in the fear future.


Is anyone else struggling to get back into the swing of things after the long holiday?  Or, am I the only one who can't bring herself to get out of a warm bed every morning?



No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

kelleyp said...

i have no idea how you live in that cold weather! i can't make it out of bed at all and i live in Phoenix!! I hate the cold. If i lived in a true cold weather state i would gain at least 100 lbs. and sleep all day.

AM said...

What kelleyp said!!! We're in Tucson, and it's cold. We had an old house in Seattle; remodeled for 4 years, it was fun, but never again. If you're on sewer, one thing to check early on is the state of the sewer lines. Enjoy the process, I love when you post pictures of what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelley, yea, what AM said about checking the sewer several homes I owned I had to get them snacked once per year to keep the roots from taking over, all city residences I might add...but glad to see you back to blogging... good luck with the remodel..keep us up to's fun to watch your progress.. maureen

hana said...

totally understand! i live in nyc and it's very discouraging to wake up to crunchy, dirty week-old snow! thanks for sharing xo

Megan said...

I feel the same way about our house; I'm learning all kinds of thinks about home maintenace. this is actually a projec that we are looking to do too so thanks for sharing your experience!!

Hartwood Roses said...

Great job on the brick! We have some of that to do in our basement, and I'm not looking forward to it. We hired the repointing outside the house, because it had to look good and last a long time in the weather. For the basement, I'm gonna give it a go myself.

I can't imagine how anyone could live in an old house and not pick up some home-improvement skills along the way. I was really handy before we bought ours, and I'm a whole lot better than that now.

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