Fireplace Mortar Repair: Preparing Your Home for Winter

Prepare your firebox for the winter. Check out these mortar repair ideas that rejuvenates the warmth and beauty of your fireplace.

As a homeowner preparing for the winter, you want a perfect firebox and chimney mortar repair that rejuvenates the warmth and beauty of your fireplace.​

However, the repair isn’t easy, especially if DIY is not your thing.

Let this guide you through the various tools of work and material you need for the task. For perfect work, don’t hesitate to consult a team of professionals.

What you need for mortar repair

What you need mortar repair fireplace mortar repair | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Here are some tools and materials you’ll need before starting the job. They’re readily available at nearby hardware.

Materials

Tools

How can I fix my fireplace mortar professionally?

Here is our step-by-step process we usually follow to give every customer satisfaction:

Step 1: Wear Protectives

Refractory Heat Resistant Mortar

Step 2: Scrape Out Debris & Damaged Mortar

Using a narrow chisel, putty knife, or the edge of a carbide-tipped scoring tool, scrape out crumbling or loose mortar from the bricks’ joints at the firebox and chambers.

Use one small wire brush (the size of a toothbrush) to brush through the joints to remove the mortar particles.

Then, vacuum the fireplace floor, surface, and mortar joints to remove ashes and debris.

Step 3: Mix Mortar & Water

Read the recommendations of the manufacturer in regards to the mortar-and-water ratio. We recommend refractory fireplace mortar that can resist heat from the fire.

Mix the two in a bucket and stir with a paint stir stick. Let the mixture rest for about 15 minutes to allow slaking.

Step 4: Wet the Joints

The next step is to spray water from the spray bottle into the empty mortar joints to prepare them for the new mortar.

Step 5: Fill the Joint with Mortar

Fill the Joint with Mortar Fireplace Mortar Repair | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Scoop up a small amount of mortar with the edge of a 3” putty knife or a flat trowel. Place the edge into a joint between the bricks. Then use a truck-point trowel to scrape the mortar and push it into the mortar joint. A tuck-pointing trowel looks like a long and narrow chisel.

Remember to pack the mortar generously into the brick joint by taping the tuck-point trowel’s tip through the caulk.

Repeat the activity until you’ve filled all cracks or joints with the new mortar through the caulk.

We recommend you choose trowels that fit comfortably in your hand and allows you to move around the masonry comfortably as you insert the mortar into the joints. A caulk gun can also be useful here.

Step 6: Smoothen the Mortar Joints to Remove the Excess

Get rid of excess mortar on the surface using a damp cloth or sponge.

Smoothen or even out the repair’s surface using your hands or the edge of the tuck-point trowel. Ensure the mortar has gone deep into the cracks by pressing against it. If the empty brick joints start to dry before they’ve received mortar, damp them again with water from the spray bottle.

Step 7: Cure the Mortar

Give your masonry time to dry, up to one or two days. The mortar’s light grey color might contrast that of the black soot covering the firebrick. However, as you use the fireplace, it will darken and blend in perfectly.

Step 8: Clean Up

Use a paint-brush to remove any debris that could be remaining on the fire bricks and joints.

What type of mortar do you use for firebrick and chimney repair?

What type of mortar do you use for firebrick and chimney repair Fireplace Mortar Repair | Alexander and Xavier Masonry

Refractory heat-resistant caulk is the best choice for your chimney or firebricks. During its processing, the manufacturer carefully selects aggregates and cement that resist expansion. This type of caulk keeps your fireplace intact without being torn apart due to high temperatures from fire.

The International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) require you to conform to ASTM C 199 when laying fireplace bricks with refractory caulk.

What’s next?

The fire bricks and mortar are designed to resist high heat at the fireplace. Over time, as they expand to high temperatures and contract back to room temperatures, they can eventually fail, but once you fix the cracked and damaged mortar joints, that beauty of your brick fireplace will come back.

While you can DIY by following our guide, be sure to contact a team of professionals to take care of any crack at your firebox and brick chimney.

Our competent team at Alexander and Xavier Masonry in Garland, Texas, are the go-to guys for all your mortar restoration at the fireplace. Contact us now to get a quote.

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