Because brick chimneys are exposed to the elements, the brickwork deteriorates much quicker than that of a standard masonry wall. When the grout between the bricks cracks and crumbles away, it must be regrouted to restore the appearance of the chimney and prevent the chimney from collapsing. Provided the damage is minor, you can regrout your own chimney, though extensive damage should only be repaired by professionals. The process of removing and restoring damaged grout or mortar from masonry is known as repointing.
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Things you need
- Grout rake
- Wire brush
- Spray bottle
- Ready-mixed grout
- Pointing trowel
- Stiff brush
Scrape out cracked grout from between the bricks of your chimney to the depths of the cracks using a grout rake. This inexpensive tool, which rolls along the surface of old grout and tears it up with a nail-like blade, may be found at any hardware store. A hammer and chisel can be used as well, though make sure you do not chip away grout beneath the depth of the cracks. Wear gloves to protect your hands and goggles to protect your eyes from flying chips.
Scrub the surface of the remaining grout with a wire brush to remove all loose chips and dust.
Dampen the bricks with a spray bottle of water, then use a pointing trowel--a small trowel with a narrowly-pointed tip--to spread weather-resistant ready-mixed grout into the gaps between the bricks. Pack as much grout as possible into the space.
Let it dry for half an hour, then scrape off any excess grout with a trowel and brush the entire surface with a stiff brush to clean up the appearance of the chimney.
Tips and warnings
- Keep your work area clean as you go along. Vacuum or sweep up grout dust and chips of old grout to prevent them from intermingling with the fresh wet grout.
- Close dampers while working on a chimney to prevent dislodged soot from falling down into the fireplace.
- If bricks are loose, if the cracks in the grout are deep or if the chimney looks structurally compromised in any way, call a professional to repair your chimney. A poorly functioning chimney can cause a fire or a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide in your home.
- If your rooftop is sharply angled or if the chimney is near the edge of the roof, wear a safety harness to prevent accidental falls.
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