Chimney Repointing Explained: How to Safeguard Your Home

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Chimney repointing s an essential process that involves restoring the deteriorating mortar of a chimney by replacing it with new mortar, This not only strengthens your chimney but also extends its lifespan.

Homeowners often confuse different terms like repointing, tuckpointing, and rebuilding.  In this guide, we will clarify these terms and explain why each of them is important.

What is Chimney Repointing?

professional repointing a chimney

Chimney repointing is the process of restoring the deteriorating mortar of a chimney by removing and replacing the decaying mortar with new mortar.

This process seals cracks and exposed mortar joints, preventing water from seeping into the chimney and causing significant damage. Moreover, repointing strengthens the brick-and-mortar structure, extending the chimney’s lifespan.


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Why Does a Chimney Need Repointing?

Chimneys are constantly exposed to environmental elements like rainstorms, snow, dust, and debris, which can cause them to deteriorate over time. If proper maintenance isn’t performed, the mortar joints of the chimney can start to crack, allowing water to seep in.

This can lead to severe damage, causing large chunks of mortar and loose bricks to fall off and potentially leading to the collapse of the entire structure.

To prevent such severe consequences, regular chimney inspections are crucial. If you notice small cracks in the brick-and-mortar structure, it’s recommended to apply caulk. However, for larger cracks and missing mortar chunks, it’s best to seek assistance from chimney experts.

What’s the Difference Between Tuckpointing and Rebuilding to Chimney Repointing?

It’s essential for homeowners to understand the differences between repointing, tuckpointing, and rebuilding. Each of these processes serves different purposes and is chosen based on the severity of the chimney’s condition.


Tuckpointing, like repointing, serves the purpose of restoring the structure of brick and mortar in chimneys. However,  there is a a key difference between these two processes. Tuckpointing focuses on aesthetic appeal, replacing old mortar with new and using two different mortar colors for a visually pleasing effect.


professional show how to repoint a chimney

Chimney rebuilding involves either partial or full replacement of the chimney structure

When a chimney only exhibits minor issues such as a few cracks or missing pieces of mortar, restoration methods like repointing or tuckpointing are typically sufficient to revitalize the brick-and-mortar structure and inhibit further damage. However, sometimes, due to negligence, the cracks expand, and the brick and mortar structure is damaged, so repointing or tuckpointing is insufficient.

For reliable and effective chimney function, rebuilding is often the most viable solution. The extent of the damage determines whether partial or full rebuilding is necessary. If the damage is only for specific areas, partial rebuilding suffices. However, if the entire chimney structure is compromised, complete rebuilding becomes necessary. In complete rebuilding, the exterior chimney bricks and chimney crown are replaced.

How Do I Know If My Chimney Needs a Repointing?

Recognizing the signs of a chimney that requires repointing is crucial. Delaying repointing can exacerbate the damage, posing a risk to the chimney’s structural stability. Furthermore, postponing repointing not only worsens the damage over time but also increase the cost associated with the repair.


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It’s recommended to consult a chimney expert if you notice any of the following signs:

Rust in Firebox

Rust is a sign of water penetration. If you notice rust in or around your firebox or damper, call for a chimney sweeping service to inspect your chimney. That’s because a rusted firebox or damper means water is coming inside your chimney.

While there are several reasons for moisture seeping inside your chimney (e.g., cracked chimney cap), one is a cracked chimney exterior that needs repointing.

Yellowed Wallpaper

Another obvious sign of excess moisture inside your chimney is yellowed wallpaper. When there’s too much moisture inside your chimney, the surrounding walls and wallpaper get damaged. Such moisture could result from a cracked chimney exterior, requiring repointing.

Cracked Chimney

minor cracks on chimney

The most obvious sign of a chimney that needs repointing is visible cracks on the chimney’s exterior. Even minor cracks can lead to water penetation inside your chimney, resulting in serious damage. Therefore, if you spot any cracks, it’s time to seek professional assistance for chimney repointing.

Since your chimney top is not visible from the ground level, the only way to check for cracks is to climb up the roof and examine your chimney stack.This task might not be feasible for an untrained individual. 

That is why an annual chimney inspection is important, as it can detect chimney cracks and other issues before they become worse.

Flaking Mortar

When pieces of mortar on your chimney exterior start to fall off due to aging and weather-related deterioration, it’s called flaking. 

Flaking mortar is a clear sign that the structural integrity of the chimney brick and mortar assembly is compromised. If you observe flaking mortar, it’s advisable  get your chimney repointed immediately.

Discoloring of Mortar

If your chimney exterior is not waterproofed, it can absorb water during rainfall. This accumulated water can gradually degrade the mortar joints, leading to discoloration caused by mold growth. 

If you detect discolored mortar, contact a professional chimney sweep for an inspection. Based on their findings, they will recommend whether repointing is necessary.

How Much Does It Cost To Repoint a Chimney?

Cost of a chimney repointing project ranges from $700 to $2,500. However, the actual cost can vary based on several factors, including:

  • The extent of the damage
  • The area of the damage
  • Labor cost (which varies depending on your location)
  • The ease of access to the chimney

Keep in mind that if additional issues are discovered during the repointing process, the cost may increase accordingly.

How Long Should a Chimney Repointing Last?

When done professionally, a chimney repointing job can last between 20 and 30 years. However, this is an estimate, and the actual lifespan can vary based on environmental factors and unforeseen circumstances such as earthquakes.

How Often Should a Chimney Be Repointed?

Ideally, a chimney should be repointed by an expert every 25 to 30 years. This estimate assumes that the previous repointing was done using high-quality mortar and best practices.

However, unforeseen circumstances can damage your chimney, necessitating earlier repointing.

For this reason, the National Fire Protection Association( NFPA) recommends annual chimney inspections to ensure its optimal condition.

Ignoring issues such as chimney cracks, rusting fireplace or damper, or flaking mortar can cause water to enter your chimney. This moisture can further deteriorate the mortar, compromising the brick-and-mortar structure. Eventually, leading to large chunks of mortar and loose bricks tofall off, putting your chimney’s structural integrity at risk.

In such cases, a complete chimney rebuild becomes necessary, which is significantly more costly than a standard repointing job.

The Takeaway

Chimney repointing is an essential maintenance process involving the replacement of old or missing mortar when cracks or missing mortar pieces become evident on your chimney’s exterior.

As soon as you notice signs of mortar deterioration, it’s vital to seek professional repointing services. Postponing this service can allow the problem to worsen. Therefore, it’s best to get your chimney repointed as soon as you notice any signs of cracking or damage.

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Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.