Chimney Mortar Is Deteriorating - What To Do?

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Old 01-25-10, 10:07 AM
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Chimney Mortar Is Deteriorating - What To Do?

My chimney mortar is deteriorating between the bricks all throughout my chimney. Aside from contracting a chimney company to come out and fix it, what are my options and costs associated with each?

I am an avid DIY'er but my tools/equipment, budget and knowledge are limited. Hoping to hear some helpful ideas from you guys.
 
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Old 01-26-10, 11:12 AM
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Could really use some help, thanks.
 
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Old 01-26-10, 04:24 PM
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Mortar problem

Not being able to see the degree of deterioration , pointing it up would probably be your best option . The cost is minimal , if you do it yourself . The price of a bag of masonry & some sand . Lowes or Home Depot carry this already mixed , just add water . While your there , buy yourself a tuck pointer ( long thin blade about 6 or 7" long with a handle ) . Start by taking out the loose mortar , dampen the bed joint with a wet brush then point in the mortar with your tuck pointer . Piece o cake
 
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Old 01-27-10, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Mstrstnmsn View Post
Not being able to see the degree of deterioration , pointing it up would probably be your best option . The cost is minimal , if you do it yourself . The price of a bag of masonry & some sand . Lowes or Home Depot carry this already mixed , just add water . While your there , buy yourself a tuck pointer ( long thin blade about 6 or 7" long with a handle ) . Start by taking out the loose mortar , dampen the bed joint with a wet brush then point in the mortar with your tuck pointer . Piece o cake
Thanks for the help. Here are several pics to give you a better sense of what's going on. Sorry for the shabby quality, but I had to screenshot capture these from our inspection report and I'm using my work comp, so I'm limited with my imaging programs. I just recently bought the house that goes with the fireplace and would very much like to use it. Let me know if your previous advice still stands or if the pics bring up new thoughts.

Thanks!



 
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Old 01-27-10, 10:24 AM
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Gootz -

Unless you are very small and thin you will never get access to the interior of the chimney, except in a foot or two. How does the exterior look? - are there any major cracks?

There does not seem to be a flue Masonry or tin) in the chimney, which is strange, unless you could not access it for the photos.

Dick
 
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Old 01-27-10, 10:38 AM
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Hey Dick,

I'll have to check on that. IIRC, the stucco on the exterior is only 5 years old and looks pretty good. The previous owners renovated much of the house in 2004, obviously they missed remortaring the fireplace/chimney.

Since the chimney is so small, what are my options?
 
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Old 01-28-10, 08:05 AM
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chimney

I must apologies to you Sir for assuming it was the exterior of the chimney that was in question . In viewing the pictures , I would guess this is taken from the inside looking up into the chimney , and if so you are looking through the damper ( the top of the fire box ) and into the combustion chamber , smoke shelf and throat of the fireplace and chimney . They may have started the tile a little higher than normal I can't tell here . Years ago , we never used metal in chimneys , Depending on the age of your house. You say the exterior is stucco and is in good shape . Is the mortar actually falling out into the fire box through the damper or is there any loose mortar on the smoke shelf (you should be able to put your hand up and towards the back and feel for loose mortar ) ? Is there a clay tile protruding past the cap of the chimney ? I guess it would take a pretty skinny guy to get inside there and point that up wouldn't it ? Once again my apologies
 
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Old 01-28-10, 09:20 AM
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No problem. It is indeed the interior of the chimney that needs the TLC. The mortar is so deteriorated it turns to sand/dust when you rub it. We had an inspector come through the house and he told us to not even use the fireplace because the heat could cause it to completely crumble. Is this true? Or was he grossly exaggerating?

The house was built in 1924 and I doubt the fireplace has been worked on since then, but I'm not expert.
 
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Old 01-28-10, 09:27 AM
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I don't know much about those stainless steel chimney liners but it sounds like that would be your best bet.
 
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Old 01-28-10, 04:46 PM
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chimney

Your question is should you use it and can it be fixed . Well , yes it can be fixed at a good deal of expense and I wouldn't use it until I fixed it . Personally , I think it would be in your best interest all around ( and many people do this ) is to install an insert or any other unit with a metal liner inside the chimney
 
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Old 01-28-10, 05:05 PM
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I was told an estimate of 2-3k to re-mortar the chimney. I definitely don't want to spend that kind of money.

I searched "metal chimney liner" and oddly enough found Chimney Liners | DoItYourself.com. Kind of funny and ironic. What am I looking at in terms of cost for the cast-in vs. metal liners?

I'd call a chimney company, but quite honestly just spend a buttload of money on the house and want to try to minimize my costs by DIY. Hope you guys can help me avoid calling.
 
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Old 01-30-10, 01:21 PM
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In my opinion your best option is to go the insert liner route this can be pretty spendy. The inspector is right about this being a huge hazard! I am guessing the previous home owners might have slapped stucco on it to avoid properly tuck pointing the chimney unless the rest of your house is stucco. I have come accross alot of home owners trying to do it as a fast repair. The mortar inside the chimney should be all the way to the edge of the bricks not pitted like that. When it gets like that the bricks can be taken apart by hand or will fall down some times on thier own. The biggest safety issue is from there being no bond left with the mortar. This can allow the flue gases to escape in places they shouldnt be. Not to mention your techincally not up to code. At the time your chimney was built they didn't use flue liners, so instead they added what they call a shiner course to the side that meets the house. Its that extra row of brick you see inside the flue. Its so it thickens up the shell near combustibles to add extra heat protection. The code is have a minimum of 6 inches of solid masonary. With your mortar falling out its obviously not that. You would be suprised how often I have seen day light thru thoses things. The only real way to coat the interior with out getting in there is to install an ahren's liner. Which is where they take pretty much a balloon stick it in the bottom then dump cement down and pull it up so it coats the entire chimney flue. Pretty spendy process here atleast, it started in europe i think. If your wondering how it failed like that the old mortar was mixed with just lime and sand, after enough rain and moisture over the years the lime works its way out destroying the bond leaving you with just sand. Good luck!
 
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Old 01-31-10, 12:09 PM
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Thanks ChimneyGuy. Sounds to me like I won't be using my nice, cozy fireplace until I properly repair it. One question though, is this a repair I could do myself with a buddy or two? Or is this something I need to leave to the professionals?
 
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Old 01-31-10, 12:50 PM
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As far as the ahren's liner goes I don't know to be honest I have personally never installed one. The insert liner type repair is something you might be able to do yourself I dont recomend it. They aren't super complicated to put in, but there can be alot of unseen hang ups. Normally I with someone else can drop a liner down in less then 2 hours completely installed. But occasionally there will be a **** change in the chimney because in my opinion the mason was smoking crack lol. And have turned into a two day deal. The biggest things you shoudl look for if you can see your damper from teh top of the chimney and it looks like a clear path all the way down it will probaly be a pretty simple process. You will have to cut out the damper and posssible knock out a few bricks to accomadate the liner. Not to mention insulate it. Then I am guessing from teh photo you have that huge open top which will require you to cover it, lay a concrete crown all though you could just build a form and try doing that. I guess it comes down to how brave you are and how confident you are. I would start with getting measure ments of your firebox and checking with some local stove/fireplace shops to see what inserts will fit in it. Obviously any time you have a contractor do the work its going to be more expensive because your paying for thier labor, insurance, etc. But you will know it will be done, just make sure they are CSIA certified. As with anything there is good contractors and shady or ignorant ones. Just like with mechanics . If its something you decide to do let me know and I will try and give you detailed instructions before you purchase everything. Again not a walk in the park but possible if money is and issue and your confident in your skills. Keep in mind your containing and changing the path of something that has the potentional to burn your home down.
 
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Old 01-31-10, 01:36 PM
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Really appreciate the info. I am a very handy and intuitive guy, but lack any in-depth knowledge of repairs like this. For instance, I took apart the engine and suspension on a Mustang I owned a while back and rebuilt both with upgraded parts. I did this without ever taken a shop class or previously worked on cars. So I guess I have the confidence and ability, it's just a matter of patience, perseverance, time and energy.

Let me ask you a question. If you were in my shoes, knowing what you know about me, what would you do?

How much difference in cost are we talking about if I do it myself vs. hiring a licensed professional?

Your last sentence is definitely true. Hence why I'm doing my research.

Thanks again
 
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Old 01-31-10, 01:57 PM
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Before anything, remove sone stucco to see the qualitiy of the masonry it covers. The earlier poster had a good point since it could be just a coating to cover a deeper problem.

Get a quote from someone for an installed liner. Some contractors may not do it unless they build the crown, since they are licensed and insured and it is not worth it to lose that for one job over something they did not control.

Then, shop around to find the cost of the same type of liner and the accessories that may be needed. You will be surprised at the cost of a liner that satisfy your insurance company.

After that, do some research and educating since this is not like rebuilding something that is in front of you because the liner is all new and foreign to you.

Dick
 
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Old 02-02-10, 06:22 PM
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Have to agree with Concretemasonary on checking out the structual condition of the chimney, you should check to see if that stucco is holding up. Is it popping off anywhere? You should take something like a screw driver and hold it backwards (by the tiP) and lightly tap the stucco any where you can reach. If you here a hollow noise its an area where its loose and lost its bond to the brick. Might need to pop the stucco off or atleast grind out all the brick joints and refill them so the chimney can gain its structual integrity back. The liner will just take care of the fire hazard from the failing flu but do nothing to enhance/repair/improve the original structure. Tuckpointing isnt super hard to do just hard to do it in a efficient and clean matter. Since you already have stucco on it not too much to worry about making the mess
 
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Old 02-09-10, 10:42 AM
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Thanks fellas. I will have to try the reverse screwdriver tapping method mentioned and will post up the results. I'm willing to bet I'll need to do tuckpointing AND install a liner. Ugh...
 
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Old 03-22-13, 10:04 AM
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Question Chimney Mortar Deteriorating - What Did You Do?

Question for The Gootz - Chimney Mortar Deteriorating - What Did You Do?
I am facing a similar problem. I was wondering if you ended up trying any of the DIY fixes, called in a professional, or left it to deal with later? Similar to yourself, I live in a warm climate. I don't really NEED to have a functioning fireplace, but it sure would be nice and cozy. Also like you, I don't have a lot of money available to sink into paying a pro and would love to do it myself. My husband and I tend to do a lot of house repairs ourselves (removed the old attic ladder and installed a new one, built a custom door to get to our crawlspace, repaired cracked floorboards from under the house, replaced our 1940s bath and shower hardware and reworked the plumbing to fit modern options, etc., etc., etc.). We do it because we care and we can (after some research) and because we usually can't afford to spend the additional money to have someone else do it. When we bought the house (built in 1925) a year ago, the inspector told us not to use the fireplace without having it repaired as there was evidence that smoke had been seeping out the sides of the chimney.
 
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Old 04-02-13, 09:26 AM
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Sorry to hear you are facing this type of an issue. I have regrettably never done anything to fireplace. Truly fixing it properly by rebricking it was just too time consuming to do ourselves and too costly to have someone else do it, so we've left it alone for now and spent our time on many other projects we felt were a higher priority.

Good luck on your projects. And if you do end up fixing it I would very much like to hear about what you ended up doing!
 
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