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wehcyar 08-23-2008 01:54 PM

Chimney Confusion (Long)
We bought our house last year and the inspector suggested we needed to repoint our 2 chimneys...

1 chimney converted for gas fireplace (fp)
1 chimney orginal wood burning fireplace (fp)

...which had hairline cracks in the mortar. the chimneys are otherwise in good shape. I'm finally now getting around to bringing in a mason to do the work. I've gotten 2 quotes to date (waiting on a 3rd). The 1st guy came out and didn't even bother to make an appointment to meet with me. He just put a quote in the mail slot which included the following work...

- supply and install 1 hooded cap for wood burning fp chimney
- wirebrush top of chimney
- repoint major holes
- water proof ground up

The 2nd guy was great...he came out and discussed all the issues and solutions, none of which required repointing. He suggested that I paint the chimneys with elastomeric paint which will seal those cracks. He did go on to recommend the following...

- erect scaffolding for both chimneys
- grind out and install new counter flashing
- remove top course on each chimney
- set up 2 course corbels
- install 2 custom chase pans
- install gas liner at top of flue
- install 1 hooded chimeny pot for gas fp chimney
- install mini box up cover and insulate top of flue for wood fp chimney
- install screens for pest prevention
- install 1 hooded chimney pot for wood fp chimney

Once this work is done, we will never be able to use the wood burning fireplace again but we're OK with that. At least this will stop the cold drafts from entering our home in the winter. We may convert it to gas later or just use candles in the fireplace. He also went on to say that it would take several days to custom manufacture the chase pans so we could use the scaffolding at that time to paint the chimneys with elastomeric paint. I should mention we live on the wet coast of the Pacific Northwest and get a lot of rain in the winter months.

My confusion is the extreme differences in work quoted. It seems, at least to me, that the 2nd guy knows what he is talking about but since I have no experience in masonry, I don't know if he's just selling a lot of unnecessary work. I plan on having this home for the next 20+ years and altough the 2nd guy was significantly more expensive (approx $3000 CAD) than the 1st guy (approx $750 CAD), I'd rather do it right now to save a major expense later than cheap out now. The only problem is...I don't really know what "right" is. I also don't know if the brick work would last any longer with the work done.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


Tscarborough 08-23-2008 03:49 PM

Pics would help.

KHouse75 08-23-2008 04:12 PM

Sounds like neither quoted what you asked for. If all that's required is repointing, they should have quoted repointing. I'd install the hood cap as well, however.

The second guy wants to do 4 times as much work so he's 4 times as expensive.

We get this all the time when building a house. I brought in a basement guy to quote a full inground basement only. He tried to sell the owner 6 egress windows, an inground sunken backyard with wood beam retaining walls a safe room and a screened in sitting room under the covered porches above. I had to get someone else to do the work.

If you like the brick natural like it is now, repointing should be all that's necessary. If you want to go above and beyond, your second quote is along those lines I think.

Also, if the drafts are coming from an improperly sealing damper, your mason should be able to install an off the shelf damper that you can install on the the top of the chimney. They have a chain that hangs down to the fireplace area that you can then pull to open or close the damper.

wehcyar 08-24-2008 02:03 PM

Thanks for your replies. I will try to get some pictures up in the next few days. It's pouring rain right now and I don't want to climb up on the roof in this weather.


wehcyar 08-27-2008 10:25 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Here are some pictures I snapped. I didn't go up on the roof...I'm hoping these will be sufficient. The last picture is of the chimney for the gas fireplace. I couldn't get a great shot of it because it's so high up. I will go up on the roof if better pictures are required. Thanks once again...


Maintenance 6 08-28-2008 07:44 AM

I notice some efflourescence on the brick below the soffit. It's probably water infiltrating from the terrible counterflashing job. I don't see much in the pictures that would make me think it needs too much repointing. Maybe around the top. Why would you want to coat a brick chimney with an elastomeric coating? I'd repair any cracks and coat with a water repellant like siloxane. My first priority would be to redo the counterflashing. A roofer might be a better call.

edit: I'd take a lok at the point where the dormer eaves meet the main roof too. Something about the way that's flashed looks a little funky. I'd want to know why the piece of metal is sticking up at the end of the gutter.

wehcyar 08-29-2008 02:01 PM

Counter Flashing
Hi Maintenance. Thanks for your input. We just had the roof replaced a few months ago from cedar to asphalt shingle. The counter flashing, however wasn't replaced at the's still the original. Would you mind stating your reasons for replacing the counter flashing? Do they have a lifespan before a replacement is required?


Maintenance 6 09-03-2008 10:09 AM

It's not that they have a lifespan (although they can get stressed from age), but rather that they are not properly fastened. Along the lower edge of the chimney, the flashing is exposed because the counter is not covering it. Wind driven rain could can enter the flashing. The idea of the counter flash is to protect the top edge of the flashing where it turns up.

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