You may need a chimney masonry repair, well before you have problems with exterior masonry walls.
That’s because chimneys rise above rooflines and are more exposed to nature’s elements. By contrast, neighboring buildings may shield exterior brick walls or other masonry.
Water Is Your Chimney’s Enemy
When water seeps into your chimney’s mortar, brick, block, or stone, it can cause costly damage to your interior walls. You’ll be forced to replace drywall, plaster, paint, and wood trim.
Additionally, water seepage can lead to mold, mildew, and a musty smell.
If water seeps into your attic or insulation, you may not know the problem or that you’re breeding mold.
To maintain your health and the inside of your home or other building, it’s essential to maintain your chimney’s health.
Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize they need chimney repairs until the damage is done.
Mortar Joint Failure and Chimney Tuckpointing
Your chimney’s mortar is more porous than the brick, stone, or blocks. Therefore, you may discover problems with your mortar before your masonry.
If you have mortar joint failure, you might notice the following on your chimney:
- Cracked, broken, missing, or protruding mortar.
- Loose, crumbling, or flaking mortar, i.e., mortar begins to chip or split into fragments (called spall or spalling) when you rake your fingers across the mortar joints.
- Misaligned mortar joints.
- Curving chimney walls.
As a result of these problems, your chimney may require tuckpointing to remove deteriorating mortar and replace it with fresh mortar.
Other Signs of Chimney Problems
Besides mortar and masonry damage, chimneys experience unique challenges. Violent storms, local critters, and gusty winds can ravage your chimney.
Some other signs of chimney problems include.
- White, green, brown, or black stains or discoloration on your chimney.
- Rust on your flashing or around the top of your chimney.
- Water and debris dribbling, leaking, or gushing into your fireplace.
- Fumes, smoke, or backdrafts waft into the room instead of up the chimney flue.
- Missing, broken, or rusted chimney cap.
- Animals sounds in your chimney; animals or birds that come through your fireplace.
Other Gralak Chimney-Related Repairs or Replacements
At Gralak Masonry, we also provide repairs or replacements of the following chimney structures.
The chimney crown is typically made of concrete. It’s the structure that overhangs the top of the chimney itself. It is designed to shed water away from your chimney.
Because it’s at the chimney’s top, it must especially endure the Chicago weather extremes. So, it’s important to inspect its mortar joints annually and tuckpoint them as needed.
We also inspect the integrity of the concrete and repair or replace it as needed.
Furthermore, brick chimneys need chimney caps (called chimney rain caps, flue caps, chimney covers, and animal guards.) This structure sits atop your chimney crown. We install the top metal cover on the flue if necessary. We will also replace the caulking around the chimney cap.
Chimneys require metal flashing where they meet the roof. If not caulked (or re-caulked) properly, these can allow water intrusion. When flashing rusts, a qualified roofing specialist needs to replace it. However, Gralak Masonry does replace caulk around the roof flashing.
Our Clients Say
“Best tuckpointing and waterproofing in our neighborhood (Lincoln Park), they come highly recommended. They sealed/tuckpointed our cinder blocks , brick walls and windows flashings. Mr Gralak was chosen over 6-7 different contractors. Nobody is better then him. His workers are knowledgeable, friendly, neat -genuine masons. Five stars for them with the highest recommendations!”
“I can’t recommend Gralak and his crew enough. From the attentive and careful quote through the foundation repair and chimney rebuild they did for us, everyone was professional. They arrived when they promised and did the job in the time they said they would. I wish all contractors and crew were this conscientious.”
“We needed maintenance tuckpointing on our building’s graystone facade. We are in the East Lakeview area and I wanted to stay local with our choice of contractor. My visit with Gralak was a better, more comprehensive question-filled conversation than I had with the others. Their price was fair, the work was excellent and we’re set for years to come. I’d recommend them in a heartbeat. The owner was a phone call away anytime I reached out to him. That kind of service is hard to come by.”
Missing Bricks or Crumbling Chimneys
In addition to chimney crowns and tuckpointing, our masonry experts can replace missing bricks on your chimney.
Instead of tuckpointing around your chimney, we may recommend brick or block repair or replacement. For example, a limestone cap and new bricks may be best to keep your chimney healthy for a Chicago winter.
Furthermore, if your chimney has suffered severe damage, it may be more cost-effective to rebuild it—rather than repair it.
What You and Your Chimney Can Expect from Gralak Masonry
Here are the steps and the care that Gralak Masonry takes with your chimney.
The first step we take is a 5-point inspection. We closely examine the brick, mortar, roof flashing, caulking, and concrete cap.
If tuckpointing is necessary, we grind out damaged mortar (if required), tuckpoint, and ensure all the masonry is solid from the roofline up.
Replace Missing or Deteriorated Bricks or Stones
Replace Missing or Deteriorated Bricks or Stones
Fix Damaged Concrete Chimney Cap, as Needed
We repair or replace the concrete chimney cap on classic clay bricks. For example, we’ll crown wash your chimney. In other words, we’ll apply a protective surface coating a few inches thick. This will help direct water away from your chimney.
Top the Flue With a Metal cover, if Needed.
This top is called a chimney rain cap.
Add the Chimney Chase Cover on Brick Veneers.
If needed, we’ll add a chimney chase cover, also known as a chase pan. This is necessary with wood-framed chimneys with brick veneers and prefabricated chimneys.
Replace Caulk at the Metal Roof Flashing.
Flashing is the nonporous material where the roof and the chimney meet. It is designed to prevent water seepage. We’ll remove the old caulk and apply the new caulk around the roof flashing. This will help drive water away from the chimney.
Apply Masonry Cleaner and Sealer.
Masonry cleaner and sealer will leave your chimney looking and performing like new.
Inspect Your Chimney Every Year
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 211, you should have an annual fireplace and chimney inspection. It reads, “Annual inspections provide early detection of problems that could cause fires, carbon monoxide poisoning or structural deterioration.”
Gralak Personal Consultations
You won’t meet with a random salesperson or an assistant when you schedule your appointment. Instead, Company Owner Radoslaw Gralak (pronounced RAD-a-slov GRAY-lak) will meet with you at your home or building(s). Radoslaw will personally inspect your chimney(s) exterior to identify the source of your problems and potential safety hazards.
Each chimney has its unique masonry problems. Please call or email us for a free estimate.
The Gralak Guarantee
We stand behind the quality of our craft. To that end, we offer the Gralak Guarantee.
Skillful Tuckpointing and Other Masonry Services
We’ll postpone a job if the wall temperature dips below 40 degrees or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures, mortar won’t be at the proper consistency.
At optimal temperatures, we will only keep mortar for two hours; this ensures your mortar remains pliable.
The city of Chicago building code requires a permit to ensure the project meets minimum standards. These standards are intended to protect the integrity of the buildings.
Chicago’s Easy Permit Process Program is streamlined for small, simple home and building improvement projects.
Depending on your project and location, many different types of permits may be required. For example, if scaffolding is necessary and the Chicago Department of Transportation has approved the work, an Easy Permit can be obtained on the same day.
Therefore, we often pull permits. However, some municipalities require that the property owner obtain specific types of permits.