16 Sep 2013
Sometimes what sets you apart in business is not the work itself, but the little things you do to make a customer happy. It’s not just the tuckpointing work that matters, but things like showing up a time, covering your landscaping, working hard, cleaning up, and a final bill that is what you expected.
This recent review from Angie’s list reminds me that when it comes to Chicago tuckpointing jobs, little things do matter. Since not everyone has access to access to Angie’s List, I thought I would share it:
“Quote was received within two days of phone call for an estimate. Agreed to job and scheduled time for work to be completed within a week. Workman arrived at 7:30 and began setting up. Four workers including the owner, Mr. Gallagher. They were courteous and proceeded to start working right away. Covered perennials. Worked at a consistent pace taking one break during the four hours they were at my home. Tuckpointing looks great so far. Very neat, filled in all cracks in mortar especially around the chimney. Mr. Gallagher even tuckpointed areas on garage at no extra cost. Quote was almost 50% less than another company quoted for less work. Will be calling next year for additional work.”
Thank you to all of our customers who have shared our good work their friends and family. We really appreciate it.
Read more reviews.
31 Jul 2013
If you want to know how we create a new chimney crown you will want to watch this video.
The homeowner in Barrington Hills, Ill., didn’t really think about the chimney until they noticed leaking on the inside of the fireplace. A closer look revealed a deteriorated chimney cap. The original chimney was faulty—it did not have a proper overhang. This allowed water to work its way down inside the chimney, causing substantial damage to the chimney cap as well as the surrounding brick on the fireplace.
We created a new custom-fit chimney crown out of concrete. The first step was to construct the wooden forms around the top of the brick fireplace. When secure, workers then poured the concrete. Metal rebar ensures that the concrete has a secure hold to the fireplace. A lip on the concrete keeps water flowing in the right direction – away from the fireplace.
Once we had the chimney crown securely in place, mortar joints on the fireplace were ground out to ensure a good bond with the new mortar. Damaged bricks were replaced and the entire chimney was tuckpointed. The final result is a chimney that looks brand new and will last another 2o years.
Even if your home is newer, improper installation of chimney caps can quickly deteriorate your brick. Make it a habit to check your chimney every few years for signs of deterioration. Efflorescence, cracks in the chimney crown and chipped mortar are a few of the signs to look for.
Questions about your fireplace? Give us a call at 708 388 2871.
You may be surprised that the state of Illinois does not require masonry or tuckpointing contractors to have a license. Instead the decision to license or not is left up to individual municipalities. This makes it even more important to do your due diligence when hiring a contractor to tuckpoint your buildings. A few strategic questions help you make an informed choice.
1) How long have you been in business?
Should you have a question or problem with your job six months or a year from now, you want a company that’s going to be around to answer your call. Hiring your nephew’s friend who has been laid off from his job may save a couple of bucks, but where will he be in a year? It’s also easier to check the references and ratings of a long-standing business vs. someone just picking up a side job.
2) Is your company insured and bonded?
A contractor with employees is required to have workman’s comp insurance to provide coverage in case someone is hurt or injured on the job. If a worker is injured while performing the work on your property and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you could be financially liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation.
A bond is an insurance policy that guarantees that the contractor will meet his obligations. If a contractor us unable to complete a job, or performs substandard work, the bonding company would provide payment. Most government agencies only work with bonded contractors. Some bonds are designed to protect you against substandard work that does not meet with local building codes.
3)Can you provide references?
It’s shocking how many people hire a contractor without ever checking references. A contractor should be able to produce a list of customers you can call to ask about the quality of the work, timeliness, and other important factors. Online references or reviews maybe useful, but evaluate them in total rather than getting hung up on one negative review.
4)What is the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau?
The Better Business Bureau is a well known organization that tracks complaints against businesses. The BBB accredited business designation is offered to companies that have demonstrated sound business practices and meet certain standards. The BBB assigns letter grades from the A+ (the highest) to F (lowest) based on the BBB’s opinion of the business. Factors that go into the rating include information such as the number of complaints, years in business, advertising or licensing issues known to the BBB.
5)Who will be on the job site?
It is important to know who is doing the work and what their experience level is. Will the job be subcontracted out to another firm? Who will supervise the job site?
6)What’s the timetable for completing the work?
Weather can sometimes play havoc on tuckpointing schedules, but it’s important to find out how long the job will take and when you can expect it to be completed. You want as little disruption as possible. If you need workers to come in off-peak hours to avoid inconvenience to customers, be sure to let the contractor informed.
Choosing the right contractor doesn’t have to be a a time-consuming chore. If you have your questions organized it should be easy to get the information you need. Click here to learn more about Shamrock Tuckpointing.
If you see a hole or holes along the bottom of a brick wall, don’t worry. They are most likely weep holes, and there is a reason for them to be there. If they aren’t there, you have reason for concern. Weep holes ventilate the narrow cavity between the brick and the interior wall. Without weep holes, moisture that wicks through the brick and mortar will soak into the framing and drywall, making them magnets for termites and mold. But any water that comes in through the weeps will hit metal flashing, if the inside walls were built properly.
Most building inspectors will notice the problem. Other problems that frequently occur in Chicago masonry buildings are:
- Lack of flashing. Weep holes won’t work without it.
- Poor pointing. There should not be gaps in the mortar.
- Unpainted lintels over doors and windows. The steel lintels eventually will rust, causing expansion that will crack the adjoining block.
- Stone window sills that are level or sloped back toward the window, instead of sloping away from the window to keep the water out.
- Poorly sealed stress and expansion joints.
If you see any of these problems, call a trusted masonry contractor such as Shamrock Tuckpointing for an inspection. Left unattended small problems can escalate into major repairs.
Chicago is often cited as one of America’s greenest cities. Buildings with lower operating costs and better indoor environmental quality are more attractive to a growing group of corporate, public and individual buyers. High performing building features will increasingly enter into tenants’ decisions about leasing space and into buyers’ decisions about purchasing properties and homes. Brick remains one of the most sustainable building materials in the world. When looking at sustainability, it is important to evaluate a product’s life cycle from a number of perspectives. Factors might include energy efficiency, recyclability, fossil fuel depletion, habitat alteration, ozone depletion, water intake, human health and more.
With an average life of 100 years, brick has clear advantage over vinyl which last 50 years, or wood, which lasts 20-25 years. According to the Brick Institute of America, manufacturers have reduced the energy required to manufacturer brick to 1,239 BTU per pound from the approximately 4,000 BTU per pound required in the past.
Very little waste is produced in manufacturing and building because bricks are inherently recyclable. Once water is extracted, a pound of clay material yields almost a pound of brick once water is extracted. During the manufacturing process, any materials that are left over after one run of bricks has been fired can simply be re-mixed into the next run. On the construction site, brick debris can be incorporated into the landscape or used for other projects.
The materials used to manufacture brick are abundant and readily available. The Brick Institute of America reports that most brick is manufactured from materials that are an average of 15 miles away from the plant. There are two or more plants within 500 miles of 49 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas within the United States.
Brick walls are heavy and dense, so they absorb heat and slow down its transfer through the wall. This moderates temperature changes, slowing down heat gain in summer, and storing heat in winter. This is called its ‘lag time’.
Tuckpointing Chicago Brick Buildings
Outside of tuck pointing once every 30 years or so, very little maintenance is required on brick buildings. Shamrock Tuckpointing helps building owners identify problem masonry joints so they can be tuckpointed to keep water from penetrating and deteriorating the brick. During the tuckpointing process, joints are cleaned and new mortar is put in place. This ensures you get a full 100-year-life out of your brick.
As a building owner, you can feel confident promoting the green nature of brick. Contact us for tuckpointing and brick repair on your Chicago-area buildings to ensure maximum sustainability.