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I have a brick home and I am seeing a lot of spots that are missing mortar. It was not obvious at first, but we have had a bit of an ant problem and I tried to figure out where they are coming in from and that is how I started to discover lots of holes. We can not really offord to have the house repointed right now, but would like to stop the bugs and I am also thinking it will be good for winter coming up to fill these holes up. Is there anything I could use, like masonry caulk, that would be effective but not mess things up for when we do want to have the tuckpointing done? Should I just use some mortar instead, even though the bond will not be as good without properly clearing away old mortar?

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    Welcome to DIY SE. Are you opposed to learning how to do the tuck pointing yourself? In my opinion it's not a difficult job, and you might derive some satisfaction from doing it yourself. – isherwood Sep 13 '18 at 12:45
  • @isherwood not against it. I would like it very much. I have watched videos and feel like it’s doable. Only complaint for right now is the time and money investment for some tools. I think rob provided a good point though. I could temp patch with some mortar and then clean it out and redo it when I have the time. – Johnathon Karcz Sep 18 '18 at 21:42
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It sounds like you're asking how to apply a temporary fix to missing mortar. Honestly, filling in the holes is already 50% of the work. You might as well clean out the failing mortar first and do the job right.

Proper tuck point repair does not require significant skill or investment:

  • Cut the failing mortar joints with an angle grinder.
  • Remove the mortar with a rotary hammer or just a chisel.
  • Clean the joints.
  • Apply new mortar with a trowel and tuckpointer.
  • Clean errant mortar off the bricks

But if you really want to skimp on the job, you could skip removing the old mortar and just add new mortar to the major holes. Then when you're ready you can cut out problem mortar as described above.

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    Bottom line is use mortar. Whether it’s temp plug with mortar or clean and mortar. I have been convinced. This way I will get some experience with the material before doing it the right way. I would do it the right way the first time but tool money and time are against me for this initial pass. Thanks for the advice. – Johnathon Karcz Sep 18 '18 at 21:39

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