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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: chilliepepper on March 31, 2013, 12:44:01 PM

Title: Chimney maintenance
Post by: chilliepepper on March 31, 2013, 12:44:01 PM
I recently hired a chimney company to come and inspect/clean our chimney. Sure, a savvy mustachian could probably do that him/herself, but I am not savvy in the ways of chimneys and my dear husband had other things to do. I wanted to get it done because it hasn't been inspected since we bought the house in 2010, and I was afraid to use it.

The guy said that the chimney is clean (so he didn't clean it), but did observe that some mortar is missing from the joints in the flue liner, due to moisture that has entered the chamber. He recommended that we do a couple of things to prevent the chimney's inevitable (eventual) ruin due to water intrusion:

1. Install a top-sealing damper (Chimalator---, which won't allow sideways-blowing rain to enter the chimney (the main benefit) and also will keep cold air out better than our current damper, thus reducing our heating costs (we always have a lot of cold air coming into the house via our fireplace). I realize that there are better ways to increase the energy efficiency of our fireplace, like installing an insert or something---but that's not the mail concern he was raising. The main concern is the water coming into our chimney and the damage it can cause. They would charge $650 to provide and install a Chimalator Deluxe.

2. Seal up the crown, which is cracked (which is fairly typical I'm told, and not a disaster in and of itself but can let water in which can lead to further dissolving of the mortar between flue tiles). They would use a product called "Flex Crown." $250 (according to the guy, it's only sold in massive quantities so that we would spend a lot more to try to buy and DIY it and would have tons of the stuff left over.)

The guy's argument was that addressing these issues now could save us from having a much bigger ticket repair to do later. So. What do y'all think? Would installing a Chimalator be fairly DIY-able? What if I can't get my husband to do it (and no, don't even try to talk me into getting on top of the house)? Worth paying the guy $650 to come do it for us?
Title: Re: Chimney maintenance
Post by: 52cents on March 31, 2013, 01:12:34 PM
I would say pay the guy for the damper. You want to keep moisture out of your chimney as much as possible, especially in a climate prone to regular freeze/thaw cycles.
Title: Re: Chimney maintenance
Post by: Jill the Pill on March 31, 2013, 06:33:21 PM
Maybe you could get a second opinion?  Years ago we had to replace our flue liner (very expensive) but the moisture came from below -- a crazy homeowner's special, venting the water heater or steam boiler through the furnace exhaust pipe or something.  Most chimneys do fine without a top-damper, with just a simple chimney cap.  Did he explain why yours would be any different?  Just the damaged crown? 
Title: Re: Chimney maintenance
Post by: chilliepepper on April 04, 2013, 12:52:17 PM
Ok, so I just talked to the guy and asked him why a simple chimney cap wouldn't be sufficient. He said that while that type of cap does help (def. better than what we currently have, which is apparently nothing but a screen to keep animals out), he stopped recommending them several years ago because customers were calling him back after some time with a regular chimney cap, saying that they were still getting water in their flue. So he started just recommending the cap with the top damper.

He's offered me a discount, making the chimelator $425 and the crown $200 so $625 total.
Title: Re: Chimney maintenance
Post by: chilliepepper on April 04, 2013, 12:59:45 PM
To clarify---a regular chimney cap would keep most of the water out, but apparently can still let some in when there are high winds with side-blowing rain.