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I had the fireplace in my 1896 farmhouse inspected and three people told me to tear it down because the mortar crumbles easily. Is there any way I can save the fireplace? It goes thru the center of the house.
You should be able to repoint the mortar joints.
Cut the existing mortar joints out to a depth of 1-1/2 inch.DO NOT REMOVE MORE THAN CAN BE REPOINTED IN A DAY.CLEAN ALL joints by brushing and flush with water.
Repoint in two steps apply the first 3/4 inch of mortar into the joints keep moist do not let it dry out after 24 hrs apply the final 3/4 inch of mortar this mortar can be cut back to leave a resessed joint or tooled. You MUST match the existing mortar with like materials.
An 1890 home may not have contained portland cement.
It could be a lime mortar.
For replacement lime mortars check on these products.
Virginia Lime Works
U S Hertage Group
If it does have portland see Preservation Brief # 22 page # 15 has some design mixes for dated buildings.
Also check this site www.historic-scotland.gov.uk