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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Do it Yourself Discussion! => Topic started by: Lifeblood on September 27, 2015, 01:54:05 PM

Title: Exterior Chimney Maintenance
Post by: Lifeblood on September 27, 2015, 01:54:05 PM
Hello, friends! We have a chimney built in 1976 and not used since approx. 1985. Not knowing the condition of the chimney, I had a chimney sweep, hired at a discount through a groupon-like service, perform an inspection. He said the chimney itself was very clean and there was no need to clean it.  He noticed some water damage on the damper and nearby bricks. He made the following recommendations:

1) Install water repellent on the exterior of the chimney $400 (requires rental of scaffolding because of height)
2) Seal crown wash and remove all moss $300
3) Install exterior clean out door (included in above prices)
4) Install stainless steel cap $125

These seem reasonable to me, but I am curious what you all think. Are the prices fair? How complicated is this as a DIY project? Is waterproofing a wise expense?
Title: Re: Exterior Chimney Maintenance
Post by: Lifeblood on September 27, 2015, 02:01:18 PM
I forgot to ask one more question: Would it be prudent foe me to get some mortar repairs done before waterproofing?
Title: Re: Exterior Chimney Maintenance
Post by: Telecaster on September 27, 2015, 02:19:40 PM
Depending on the condition of the mortar, it might make sense to have it pointed.   In my experience, you should actually talk to a masonry contractor about chimney repairs, not a chimney sweep.   Chimney sweeps basically just exist to upsell you on stuff. 
Title: Re: Exterior Chimney Maintenance
Post by: Argyle on September 27, 2015, 02:27:54 PM
I would get a second opinion from a chimney specialist (not a sweep) ranked high on Angie's List.

I recently had three chimneys in a 19th-century house rebuilt and lined by the top-ranked local chimney specialist.  As you can imagine, that was a lot of work and a big expense.  They did install new chimney caps, which I clearly needed.  He never mentioned a thing about water repellant, and I'm surprised to hear this would be an issue.  Water shouldn't be getting through your chimney in any case.  So it sounds confusing and non-intuitive to me, and again, I'd get a second opinion.

I am reminded of a situation I once had with a chimney on another house.  The roofers said, "While we were up there, we noticed some crumbling, you might want that looked at."  So I called a chimney guy and he gave me an estimate of $2000 to do various kinds of tuckpointing and repair.  Then I heard of another well-praised chimney guy and he came over and did all the work for $300.  The chimney has been fine in the 15+ years since.  So caveat emptor.
Title: Re: Exterior Chimney Maintenance
Post by: lizzzi on September 27, 2015, 03:33:18 PM
Over the past 20 years in two houses with masonry fireplaces in two states, the chimney specialists did both the sweeping and any repair that was necessary. Do your due diligence until you find the right kind of professional...not just a guy with a cell phone and a pickup truck. (But you know that.)

I don't get why the chimney needs to have water repellant. If the brick is tucked and pointed properly, why wouldn't it be waterproof? I suppose it is a good idea to get the moss off of it. Perhaps it could hurt the brick if left there. (Like ivy?? I don't really know.) I guess an exterior cleanout is a nice feature, but it isn't necessary (just clean out your ashes into a metal bucket once in a while), and I'm surprised there wouldn't be a charge for that. And I do agree that you need a steel chimney cap to keep the wildlife from kamikaze-ing down the chimney.
Title: Re: Exterior Chimney Maintenance
Post by: lizzzi on September 27, 2015, 03:40:30 PM
I meant to say to clean out your ashes via the front of the hearth...scoop them into your metal bucket.
Title: Re: Exterior Chimney Maintenance
Post by: john6221 on September 27, 2015, 07:45:59 PM
Waterproofing is actually a smart idea. Contrary to opinions above, both bricks and mortar are permeable even when brand new. The water can seep in, then freeze, and cause spalling or deterioration. The correct waterproofer will be specially made for masonry, also allowing the bricks to dry out and not trap moisture.