Building House Insanity

No Idea What I’m Doing

I bought an old house, which I love, but which needs a ton of work. And I tend to put things off until they’re really a problem. A few months ago, it rained a lot and there was a lot of water in my basement. After taking a closer look, I’m pretty sure that the problem is due to a leak in my gutter that lets water drip down the side of the house. And this has been happening so long that it has pretty much worn away a lot of the mortar between the bricks. So, my plan, fix the gutter and then repoint the bricks. (*sarcasm)Easy peasy.(*sarcasm)

First issue is I have to get up to my gutter. Years ago my brother and I bought an extension ladder and I thought that I had used this to get on my roof. After he brought it over, I quickly found out that it was a 20′ ladder and about 8 feet too short to get my on the roof. So, fixing the gutter was out for now. I have to figure out another way to get on the roof.

However, the bad mortar joints came down almost to the ground. So I thought that I’d just give it a go and see what happens. I had already bought the lime mortar that my house needs, so all I needed to do was add water and put it on. This is what I thought and it shows that I had and have no idea what I’m doing.

Mistake #1 was I dumped the entire bag of mortar into a bucket, added a half gallon of water and mixed it for five minutes. I should have done this in smaller batches because it was really hard to mix and I didn’t get everything at the bottom mixed. So I had to add more water and mix later. Thing I think I did right was I didn’t add too much water. All the videos I watched pretty much said it’s a very dry mix, so I didn’t add too much add too much water.

Mistake #2 is I didn’t chisel out any mortar. For a lot of the joints, so much mortar was already missing that I don’t think I needed to chisel any out. Because I didn’t chisel out any mortar, it was really hard for me to put mortar on without smearing it all over the front of the brick, which you’re not supposed to do (mistake #3).

At this point, I’m tired of counting my mistakes. Needless to say, I basically made a mess of it and I can prove it by the pictures below. However, I am hoping that what I did will prevent any water coming in over the winter. Then, I will do a more thorough tuckpointing job (or I’ll hire someone) to do the rest of the house next year.

The last thing I’ll mention about this is that I didn’t really do very much, but it took me probably 6-8 hours of work and I was crazy sore at the end of the day. So it was definitely hard work, but it wasn’t awful. And I do believe that hard work pretty much always pays off, so I’m glad I did this. I learned a lot in the process.

This is the first bit I did. Very sloppy.
I got a little bit better as I moved up.
On day 2, I made the mortar too wet and it got sloppy again.
This is the area that’s bad, under the leaky gutter. Mistake #n is I also didn’t match the color of the existing mortar very well.

The last problem is again that I didn’t get all the way up to the roof. So there is a large section right under the gutter that still needs to be repointed, but I have no way to do that right now. One other thing I learned is that I’m not a fan of extension ladders. They make me really nervous. I need to look into getting some scaffolding that will get me on the roof.