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Old 10-05-2011, 03:29 PM   #1
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


Hi All,

Here's my chimney:



I've got a bad chimney as you can see.
I bought the house (1910s) 3 years ago but the neighbors say someone rebuilt the chimney about 10-12 years ago. As you can see it's in shambles.

I've had two friends look at it who are in the trades. One is a mason, the other is a carpenter. Both basically said they would repoint rather than pull it down to the roofline and rebuild.

My own instincts as a builder tell me otherwise. I really don't want to have to redo this in a year or two.

It's been leaking badly, even before I ripped off the counter flashing, which was bent up and missing in pieces from the last roof job (copper counter flashing over the aluminum flashing).

My instincts tell me the "right" thing to do here is:

Rip it down to slightly below the roof. (Chimney appears fine in the attic)

Pull up the shingles around it, lay ice and water shield.
Re-brick the chimney with new copper steps and copper counter flashing.

The other side of this chimney, not pictured, looks even worse, lots of big cracks running down the corners, lots of bricks cracked in half, almost all of them loose to the touch.

I've never done this before and really don't want to get into a huge can of worms, nor can I afford to hire someone.
So if repointing and replacing a handful of broken bricks will do it for me, I'm happy to do that.
But for some reason I'm reluctant to agree with these guys. Just seems ridiculous to try to repoint this when all the mortar seems trashed. Sticking my finger in deep feels like wet sand, very wet.

What should I do?
Appreciate your input.

Thanks.


Last edited by wombosi; 10-05-2011 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 10-05-2011, 03:36 PM   #2
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


If is was mine I'd rebuild it, but brickwork is my trade so it wouldn't cost so much. Having said that I have seen stacks in worse condition than that re-pointed. Problem with that one is that it was badly built to start with.

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Old 10-05-2011, 04:14 PM   #3
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


I agree with stuart45. Rebuild is best. That chimney looks like one the big bad wolf COULD blow down. Good luck.
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:31 PM   #4
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


With so many missing and cracked bricks it seems like repointing would just be a band-aid?

From the pitch of that roof I'd say make sure you wear a cup when working up there
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:01 PM   #5
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


I'd rebuild it as well, but like Stuart, I'm biased. Let me rephrase that, with my fear of heights, I'd have my employees rebuild it, and I'd trust that they did a good job. No wait, let me rephrase that once again. With my fear of heights, I'd never even buy a house with that steep a roof.........

OK, really, do yourself a favor and go to a local brickyard and look through their "odd-lot" assortment of brick for a "king-size" brick so you can eliminate the 2" piece which throws it off of bond. The other more important, thing you need to do is pour a legitimate concrete cap at the top when your done. You'll likely need to relay 1 or 2 less courses, or replace the flue, as it's likely rotten anyways. You only need to be 2' above the peak with the finished flue height. Make sure the cap has at least 1.5" overhang beyond the corbeled brick (assuming you even corbel them out again at the top) and a drip edge underneath. A properly constructed chimney and cap should last you a lifetime, not 10-12 years. Have fun.............
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:45 AM   #6
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


guys, i'm considering some kind of temporary waterproofing to get me t hrough the winter. within the next year or two i'd like to switch to a direct vent gas boiler, at which point i would simply tear this chimney down and close off the roof and not rebuild it.
i really don't have the time or money to rebuild it right now, nor the experience.

aside from this section above the roof being horrible, the bit in the basement is even worse, very punky, no cleanout door, big cracks, and the entire chimney is unlined.
i've also done some demo on the two floors of living space, and every wall i've had down had a bump-out in the chimney for a wood stove or something. i've' seen at least three of them.
so it seems like rebuilding from the roof up is throwing good money after bad.

do you think i can do something like wrap the chimney in ice and water shield for the winter? or just stucco over the thing and counter flash it?
something quick and dirty to stop the roof from leaking around it.

i'm about to have foam sprayed in the attic around the chimney, and really want to make sure it's not leaking.

thanks guys.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:40 AM   #7
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


Quote:
Originally Posted by wombosi View Post
guys, i'm considering some kind of temporary waterproofing to get me t hrough the winter. within the next year or two i'd like to switch to a direct vent gas boiler, at which point i would simply tear this chimney down and close off the roof and not rebuild it.
Brown tarp, bungie cords and duct tape?

Just stop the tarp below the current crown / drip edge then duct tape. You can cut & duct tape the tarp to flare and follow the roof line... not sure how you'd secure the lower part of the tarp w/o penetrating the existing roof tho

I'm unfortunately waffling on a similar thing right now... I need a $2000 liner for my oil fired boiler and $800 worth of re-pointing, the repointing I need for sure because I am keeping the chimney, but depending on which day of the week it is I either think spending the $2000 for the liner makes the most sense from a "everything else is working, spend as little as possible" point of view, or that I should take that $2000 and use it as paying for a portion of converting to propane.

But in your case it seems to be a no brainer to ditch the chimney if it's just for the furnace which will be replaced soon.
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Old 10-07-2011, 12:17 PM   #8
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


Looking at that picture again, it looks like a major vertical crack going down the whole length of the middle of the chimney. .........it almost looks like it could split in two and topple off the roof........I vote for a complete teardown.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:36 PM   #9
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


THat is a lot of disintegration for just 12 years. What do the masons here think they did wrong during the rebuild?
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:14 AM   #10
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Windows View Post
What do the masons here think they did wrong during the rebuild?
The first mistake was to put down their hods and pick up a trowel.
The mix was also probably too weak for a chimney stack. It depends on the climate, but the recommended mix here is from the NHBC is 4.5/1/0.5 sand/OPC/lime or 3.5/1 sand/OPC and air entraining agent or 3/1 sand/masonry cement.
It could also be that below the roof line the stack is not built on a proper base. It looks like it's dropping in the middle.
It could also be that flue gasses are escaping through the liner joints and forming acids which eat away at the mortar joints.
With poor craftsmanship on display the hidden work is usually even worse.

Last edited by stuart45; 10-08-2011 at 06:20 AM.
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:25 AM   #11
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


I would do this for one year and one year only. You have to replace your heater next Summer. Buy a liner and install it yourself just to get you through the Winter. Then stucco the out side of the Chimney . Remember this is a one year deal. Then rip it down. Well maybe longer if the stucco holds good.
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:44 AM   #12
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chimney: repoint or rebuild?


Rebuild it. The vertical crack is a bit of a problem.If the crack was not there i would of used a jointer or rubbing iron to get some presure into the joint and to get some tightness back. Then weather pointed after. Not sure if your local building materials supplier would have those bricks in stock, they look like imperials, so you may have to change the bond.

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