Masonry Repair: Here’s Why It’s No Laughing Matter

masonry repair torontoAs the properties in which we live age, they can fall into a state of disrepair. Some tasks, such as repainting interior walls or replacing worn carpets are done mainly for aesthetic reasons and postponing them will not have a detrimental effect on your home. Masonry repairs, on the other hand, are a different matter entirely. If you want to protect the value and the structural integrity of your Toronto home, you need to attend to them at the earliest possible opportunity.

Why You Should Never Postpone Masonry Repair in Toronto

There are a number of outcomes, none of which are particularly pleasant, that could result from the unnecessary postponement of masonry repairs in your home.

  1. Chimney Repairs – If the mortar joints between the bricks in your chimney have deteriorated over time, water could penetrate them and cause even more damage. In the worst cases, this can lead to total collapse of the chimney.
  2. Repairs to Brick Walls – The mortar joins in your Toronto home’s exterior walls can also degrade over time and if neglected, bricks can eventually come loose, threatening the structural integrity of your property as well as posing a danger to yourself and your family. Damaged bricks should be replaced, with new mortar to hold them in position.
  3. Parging Repairs– If the surface of your exterior walls have large cracks running through them, parging (the application of a new layer of plaster or mortar) can restore them to their original condition. Leaving them as they are could result in the rapid deterioration of these surfaces as water and ice are able to penetrate the walls.
  4. Tuckpointing – Removing the outer layer of mortar from between bricks and replacing it with fresh mortar is a common masonry repair in Toronto and can help to ensure that brick walls remain in excellent condition. Crumbling mortar, if left to its own devices, could eventually threaten the stability of the wall in question.

If your property is showing signs of age and you are looking for a company that is capable of carrying out high quality masonry repair in Toronto, call Cummins Restorations today and tell us what you need. We have many years of experience in the industry and a first-class team of tradespeople ready and waiting to restore your property to its former glory so please do not hesitate to call, whatever your needs may be.

Brick Repair 101: Essential Points to Consider

brick repair torontoHomeowners in Toronto know how hard the climate can be on their properties and do not need reminding why they should ensure that the exterior walls of their home are maintained in excellent condition. If the exterior walls of your home have exposed brickwork, you will eventually need to have that brickwork repaired to ensure that it remains in good condition.

Signs That May Indicate the Necessity of Brick Repair for Toronto Homes

There are a few signs you can look out for before you contact a local contractor to talk about repairs to your brickwork.

  1. Crumbling Mortar – If the mortar in between the bricks has started to crumble, it is time to have the joints tuckpointed. Leaving them as they are will only result in further deterioration of the condition of the mortar, which could lead to the second sign to look out for below.
  2. Loose Bricks – One of the most common reasons that people contact us to enquire about masonry repair in Toronto is because they have noticed that some of the bricks in their walls have come loose, or even been dislodged completely. This is a sure sign that the mortar between the bricks is in a very poor state.
  3. Cracked Bricks – There are a number of reasons that the bricks in your walls could develop cracks but whatever the underlying cause, they will need to be replaced with new bricks to ensure that the walls in question remain stable and sound.
  4. White Deposit on Surface of Bricks – This is almost always salt, from the mortar in between the bricks. If you see it on the surface of the bricks of your Toronto home, it is a sign that water is penetrating the wall and the bricks themselves. As the water evaporates, the salt is left behind on the bricks. The water could be penetrating your walls due to crumbling or cracked mortar, or perhaps cracked bricks. Either way, repairs will be necessary.

At Cummins Restorations, we have dealt with all of the above symptoms countless times over the years that we have been in business so please feel free to call us if you would like any help or advice. If you would like to take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of masonry repair in Toronto, we will be delighted to provide you with a competitive quotation for the work that needs to be done.

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Hire Uninsured Masonry Contractors

masonry contractors torontoWhilst low quotations for masonry work in Toronto can be very appealing to cost-conscious homeowners and businesses, they are not always as attractive as they might first appear. Some contractors are only able to offer cheap masonry services because they have cut their running costs to a minimum. There is nothing wrong with this in principle but if liability insurance was one of the victims of their cost-cutting exercise, you might want to think twice about hiring them

5 Reasons to Avoid Masonry Contractors in Toronto without Insurance

If you want to know exactly why you should not use the services of uninsured contractors, take a look at the five reasons below.

  1. Your Home Will be at Risk – A company that has no insurance will not be able to cover the cost of repairing your home in the event that they inadvertently damage it. Given the serious nature of the type of work that masonry contractors in Toronto and elsewhere often undertake, comprehensive insurance is a must.
  2. You Could Be Liable for Injured Workers – If a contractor’s employee is injured whilst working on your property, their insurance should cover the cost of any compensation. However, with no insurance policy, you could be sued for damages by the worker in question.
  3. Building Code Problems – A contractor in Toronto who is uninsured is most likely unlicensed too, which means they probably aren’t familiar with local building regulations. As the homeowner, it is you who would have to foot the bill for alterations if the local authorities object to any work done by your contractor.
  4. Bad Workmanship – There may well be some uninsured contractors whose work is of a high quality but the odds are that a firm with no insurance is likely to be sloppier in their approach to work than a firm with full cover.
  5. Lawsuits from Injured Guests – A guest of yours being injured by falling masonry while contractors are working on your home may be an unlikely occurrence, but it is a possibility and one that would be covered by their insurance policy, if they had one. If not, it’s you that will have to pay compensation once again.

As you can see, you should always hire an insured masonry contractor in Toronto because the alternative is fraught with danger. Cummins Restorations is fully licensed and insured, so you can hire us with complete confidence.

Why It’s Important Chimney Repair Issues are Dealt With Quickly

chimney repair torontoHaving a chimney adds a cozy charm to your Toronto home, but it is also very important to keep the chimney properly maintained and cleaned. Even with good maintenance, however, well-used chimneys accumulate creosote buildup inside their flues and, over time, gaps in the flue that allow heat damage to come to the brick area outside the flue. The effects can be dangerous and devastating, and there are many reasons a chimney should not be left to fester if it is in any need of chimney repair.

What is Creosote?

Most problems that can occur in a chimney are caused by a buildup of creosote, a tar-like substance caused by the chemical reaction of incomplete wood combustion with the liner of your flue. Creosote buildup can cause:

  • Chimney Fires – Creosote is highly combustible, and a combination of a lot of it building up and very high temperatures in the chimney could cause an explosion and a fire. The fire will undoubtedly damage your chimney and may even spread to the wood frame of the house, leading to injury or death.
  • Noxious Debris – The debris given off by hardened creosote residue can cause a myriad of very unhealthy effects, such as:
    • Higher risk of cancer or similar diseases.
    • Eye irritation, including itchiness and blurry vision.
    • Skin irritation leading to acne or rashes.
    • Respiratory problems, such as coughing or trouble breathing.
    • Issues with the liver or kidney.
    • Increased risk of seizures, confusion, or other mental problems.

What Other Problems Can I Avoid with Prompt Chimney Repair?

Having an expert repair your chimney the minute issues crop up will also help avoid:

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Gasses trapped by a partially blocked chimney may find their way back into your living space. They include carbon monoxide, an invisible and odorless gas that causes blood vessel suffocation. In small doses, carbon monoxide poisoning causes headaches, nausea, and fatigue. In large doses, it can be fatal.
  • Animal Infestations – Chimney swifts and other small animals may take up residence in a run-down and unused chimney (not in the flue, where the smoke actually escapes), even after brick or masonry repair. Their droppings will fall into the fireplace, burn when a fire is lit, and emit fumes that cause respiratory infection.

For all these reasons and more, it is vital to your safety to call a professional to perform maintenance on your chimney at the first sign of disrepair. We at Cummins Restorations are happy to provide tuckpointing and chimney repair services to keep you enjoying crackling fires with the family while staying healthy and safe.

The Importance of Mortar Matching During Do-It-Yourself Brick Repair

brick repair torontoWhen you choose to conduct chimney repair on your own, there are many details to consider. One of these details, which you will come across during tuckpointing or brick repair, is the exact mix of the mortar used to stick the bricks together. It is often impossible to find the exact brand of mortar mix used during the original construction of your chimney, so you have to take care mixing the new mortar to exact specifications.

What Considerations Should I Make Before Mixing Up a New Batch of Mortar for Brick Repair?

There are several, including:

  • Mortar Strength – Mortar made nowadays is not the same as the mortar made in the past. Modern mortar is stronger, more durable, and composed of tighter chemical bonds. When up-to-date mortar is spread in the joints of a chimney that is partly made up of older and weaker mortar, it can throw off the load factors by placing more weight on certain bricks (the ones covered by the old mortar) than others. This can easily cause bricks to deform or even break, an event that will likely lead to a chain reaction, destroying the chimney.
  • Mortar Colour – As you can imagine, the exterior appearance of a chimney loses a significant amount of its charming allure if half of the lines of mortar running between its bricks are cream-colored and the other half are pure white. This is why it is of utmost importance to carefully match the color of any new mortar to the exact color of the old mortar. You may have to get creative with masonry coloring to match a mortar that contains unusual tints.
  • Mortar Durability – Mortar is traditionally a mix of 1 part cement, 1 part lime (as in limestone), and 6 parts sand. Most mortar does not stick to this formula exactly, however, and even a slight differential in a mortar’s formula, like 1.05 parts lime instead of 1, can make a substantial difference in its durability. And we probably don’t have to spell out for you what will happen if parts of your chimney’s mortar structure corrode at a faster rate than other parts. Hint: it ends in a collapsed chimney.

Mixing mortar to the exact specifications put forth by your old mortar can be a nightmare, but the highly-trained brick repair and tuckpointing experts at the Toronto-based Cummins Restorations are happy to help.

Spot the Signs That You need Masonry Repair

chimney repair torontoThe chimney is one of the most overlooked household features in terms of being properly maintained. Many do not realize that chimneys are fragile mechanisms that require regular attention too, and one of the most important parts of a chimney to keep in good shape is the masonry. A chimney with deteriorating masonry can cause dangerous situations, as well as a significant decrease in value to the home it is attached to.

How Do I Tell When it’s Time for Masonry Repair?

There are two parts of your chimney that may require masonry repair: the visible brick exterior of the chimney and the tile lining of the flue inside the chimney. Below is listed how you tell whether you need repair for each.

  • Brick Exterior –Like the skull protects the brain, the bricks of a chimney protect the flue. Just like the skull, cracks in the brick exterior are dangerous, and need to be looked into immediately when they are noticed. The easiest-to-notice sign that the exterior is in need of masonry repair is when the mortar cracks in between the bricks widen or seem less sturdy than they were. This means that the mortar is disintegrating, and allowing this to continue could cause structural damage. Another sign that chimney repair is needed is when cracks are visible in the bricks themselves. Bricks last significantly longer than mortar, but they can deteriorate too, and the consequences of a cracked brick can be even more severe than those of thinning mortar.
  • Inner Flue – The flue is where the actual smoke and debris from fires filters through to escape the chimney, and it is made of tiled stone, which is extremely important to keep in good condition. One of the easiest ways to tell that your flue lining needs repair is by observing actual flakes of flue tile falling into the fireplace during use. Being exposed for years to moisture and corrosive chemicals resulting from combustion can make the flue tiles give out.

No matter what part of your chimney is experiencing problems, issues with masonry are very serious and must be dealt with immediately if any telltale signs are noticed. Masonry and brick repair can be hugely time-consuming and labour-intensive to deal with on your own, but we at Cummins Restorations are happy to assist anyone in the Toronto area with their masonry contracting and chimney repairs.

How Masonry Contractors Can Protect Your Property

masonry contractors torontoMasonry contracting is one of the oldest forms of construction work on earth. Hiring a masonry contractor is not like hiring any other worker to perform a routine construction job on your house. No, these particular construction workers provide the full package of keeping your home and you safe while significantly increasing your property’s value.

Why Hire a Masonry Contractor?

Below are a few reasons why masonry contractors are a worthwhile investment.

  • They Are VersatileMasonry contractors are all extremely well-trained craftsmen and can perform more than just one kind of job. Maybe your patio and garden wall need brick repair and your chimney needs tuckpointing. Instead of hiring a different worker for each job, a single brick mason has got you covered.
  • Safety is Their First Priority – A masonry contractor’s most important job is making sure that the work zone is safe for the residents entering and exiting the property. The mason will also make sure the residents do not have to step over or otherwise inconvenience themselves with construction materials blocking their day-to-day routine.
  • They Are a Start-to-Finish Package – Unlike most construction workers or contracting companies, masonry contractors work totally independently. That is not to say they work alone – sometimes they use sub contractors at their own expense to help with particularly big jobs – but once they are hired, they supply all tools and other materials for the project without bothering the property owner. They will even fill out paperwork and arrange work permits when necessary. In short, they make the construction process as effortless as possible for the client.
  • You Know Your Project is in Good Hands – As stated above, masonry contractors are extremely well-trained. They are not just inexperienced laypeople who needed some extra cash and decided to apply to a construction firm. Instead, there are unions and national organizations that offer extremely competitive masonry contractor certifications. Only those who are extremely adept at a wide range of masonry procedures, safety regulation procedures, and landscaping design concepts can obtain the certification. When you hire a masonry contractor, you can be assured that he knows his stuff.

At Cummins Restorations, we are ready and eager to supply you with any kind of masonry contractor you need, be it brick mason, stone mason, concrete mason, or tile setter. For years, we have been supplying homeowners in the Toronto area with the right personnel to complete work on their homes, and we want to add you to that growing list of satisfied customers.

Hiring Professionals for Tuckpointing vs. Doing It Yourself

tuckpointing torontoChimney bricks themselves can easily last over a hundred years, but the mortar that holds the bricks together, a porous concrete mixture, is likely to begin deteriorating every 25 years or so. If this is allowed to happen, the chimney will eventually collapse, causing damage to the home it was attached to and necessitating a costly rebuild of the entire chimney.

A much less hazardous and less costly option is to invest in tuckpointing – the process of replacing the mortar on the cracks between bricks that look problematic.

What Benefits Does Tuckpointing Have?

By tuckpointing your chimney, you will:

  • Prevent water from seeping through old mortar and into the chimney. Said water can cause structural damage and cause mold or mildew, creating additional blockage and a bad smell in the chimney.
  • Increase the value of your home, as a chimney with healthy masonry is a big selling point.
  • Obviously, improve the structural integrity of your chimney, preventing the immediate need for chimney repair.

Can I Do it Myself?

Tuckpointing is a very complicated process that entails:

  • Meticulously scraping away any mortar that looks like it needs replacing.
  • Mixing new mortar that agrees with the type and exact color of the old mortar that is still good.
  • Carefully spreading the new mortar.
  • Cleaning up any excess mortar that has dripped onto bricks before it dries.

You can do it by yourself, in which case you may benefit slightly from a less costly and, possibly, more customizable experience. It is highly recommended you hire professionals for the task, however, for several reasons.

  • Doing it yourself can be extremely dangerous in a number of ways. Firstly, any job that requires you to climb over a story up on a ladder and perform a laborious but detail-oriented task while you’re up there means risking life and limb. Second, the mortar holding together chimneys is a hotspot for creosote and other toxic materials.
  • Unless the person performing the procedure is a trained expert, it is a very time-consuming task. The many hours you will save by hiring a chimney repair service to do it will more than compensate for the modest fee.
  • The chimney is a major attraction to potential home-buyers, and making mistakes while doing it yourself will devalue your home.

Luckily, the highly-skilled craftsmen at the Toronto-based Cummins Restorations are eager to perform your tuckpointing and keep your chimney safe for many years to come.

Some of the Most Common Issues that Require Chimney Repair

Chimney Repair TorontoChimneys are stunning architectural features that add a great deal of charm and charisma to any property. But being such a visually attractive feature isn’t easy! Chimneys require a great deal more maintenance than many people tend to think and if this maintenance is neglected, you could potentially make your home environment unsafe. Having said that, even if you keep on top of your chimney maintenance, eventually faults can develop due to the wear on tear of frequent use and the constant exposure to the harsh Toronto climate. But exactly what can go wrong? We’re going to talk you through a few of the main issues with chimneys that we’ve frequently encountered in our 22 years in the chimney repair industry.

What Can Go Wrong That Requires Chimney Repair to Put Right?

Chimney repair should never be attempted by the average homeowner, even if they do consider themselves to be somewhat of a DIY guru. Carrying out chimney repair can sometimes be dangerous and you risk not only causing further damage to your property, but also to yourself.

  • Damaged Brickwork – Just as with the walls of your property, the condition of the bricks that combine to form the chimney will deteriorate over time. The rate of this deterioration is often quicker for a chimney than on other parts of the home due to the fact that a chimney is elevated and therefore constantly exposed when the harshest (and wettest) weather conditions hit the area. A common issue we encounter is the mortar becoming damaged and falling away, and it’s vital that you get a chimney repair contractor out to replace this as soon as possible, otherwise moisture could easily penetrate the brick and cause more serious damage.
  • Damage to the Chimney Cap and Crown – This is another chimney repair issue that needs to be rectified very quickly otherwise it could allow excess amounts of moisture to get inside the chimney and potentially damage its lining, the brickwork, the damper, the firebox and also potentially the walls and ceiling inside your home. The crown and cap are considered your chimney’s primary defences against Mother Nature, but due to their level of exposure and the extremeness of Toronto’s climate, they can become damaged over time.
  • Damaged Chimney Lining – As you can imagine, the lining of your chimney plays a vital role and prevents your home from setting alight every time you use your fireplace. Every time you use your chimney, a flammable substance known as creosote is deposited on the flue lining and if moisture is allowed to mix with this substance (hence why it’s important to rectify the two issues listed above quickly), it can cause the flue lining to crack. This will have to be replaced before the chimney can be used again.

If you’ve got a beautiful chimney at your home but you either can’t use it because it’s damaged or it’s affecting other parts of your home, contact our chimney repair team today. We have the skills, knowledge and equipment to restore your chimney to perfect working order once again, with expertise in brick repair and tuckpointing.

Contact us today for chimney repair in Toronto

How Will Tuckpointing Benefit Your Property?

tuckpointing Toronto This is something that we’ve heard quite frequently over the past 22 years. Home and business owners alike want to know what’s in it for them when they spend their hard earned cash. They want to work out whether their home improvement budget is better spent on tuckpointing or if they would be wiser to buy that new bathroom vanity that they’ve had their eye on for a while. It’s a fair question and ultimately almost all purchases and investments that we make are weighed against the benefits that we will receive in return. To help you make your mind up in this particular instance, we’ve listed a few of the main benefits of tuckpointing below, all of which have been experienced by hundreds of Toronto homeowners that we’ve helped over the years.

Return on Investment: Is Tuckpointing Worth It?

We frequently see homeowners with properties that are in dire need of tuckpointing neglect to do so as they are not fully aware of the impact that it can have. Any money you spend on tuckpointing will help your home in the following ways:

  • Preserve Condition of Mortar Joints – This is vital from both a visual and a functional perspective. Masonry with the mortar properly intact not only looks attractive, but the mortar joints also protect it from water and a number of other threats (think of vegetation, salts and frost) that could cause more extensive damage.
  • Stronger Walls and Chimney – The worst thing that you can do when you realise that part of your wall or chimney requires repair, is do nothing. While bricks and mortar may appear strong even when damaged, just a small breach of your home’s first line of defence can lead to moisture problems indoors, lower levels of energy efficiency and uncomfortable indoor temperatures. Not to mention the fact that weathering of these areas and subsequent damage will be greatly accelerated.
  • Cost Effective Solution – Lets run through the likely scenario if you don’t invest in tuckpointing. As already mentioned, mortar joints and bricks will weather and significantly deteriorate in condition, often to the point whereby standard masonry repair will no longer be possible, meaning a tear down and rebuild is often the only viable option. As you can imagine, this would cost you considerably more than tuckpointing would have in the first place.
  • Boosts Your Property’s Value – One of the main things that property surveyors will check when inspecting your house is the quality and the condition of the masonry. They will assess whether it’s likely to need any serious repairs in the near future and this will undoubtedly have a significant impact upon the value that your home is given. Not only that, but masonry that is in good condition also looks more visually pleasing, which ensures visitors are left with a positive first impression.

Whether you’re still unsure if your home requires tuckpointing or you would like to make an appointment for a consultation with us, contact our team on (416) 992-7965.

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