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Old 08-01-2010, 03:55 AM   #1
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Iíve been reading many of the posts and have been very impressed with the knowledge-base here. I hope the expertise present can help me make some decisions. Iím trying to help my mother with a problem on her chimney. The house is about 30 years old and located in the Midwest. The chimney is located on the North side of the house. Although the chimney feels and looks to be solid, as you can see from the pictures, pieces of the brick face have fallen off. Iíve noticed some cracks in the mortar along some of the bricks, and the edge of the cap has seen better days. Iím pretty sure this is primarily above the roofline. The chimney hasnít been used in perhaps 10 years. I know that a picture does not a personal inspection make, but based on this information Iím hoping to get an idea of what weíre looking at. My question is, how serious is this situation? Will repointing remedy things, or is it beyond that and bricks will have to be replaced? Have I missed any important details that would aid in this virtual assessment?
Thank you in advance!
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Last edited by Player; 08-01-2010 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:32 AM   #2
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


It definitely needs attention. Repointing is probably all that is needed at this point, but another cold winter could make it much worse. And it likely needs a new mortar cap.

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Old 08-01-2010, 12:10 PM   #3
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


It doesn't look too serious IMO, but it should at least get a good concrete cap with some overhang & dripedge. NOT a mortar wash as it is existing, but a strong, soild concrete cap.

If I were doing this job, I would take off the top 2 courses of brick, relay one course flush, rather than the corbelling, using the best of the reclaimed brick. Let the brick set up over night, and form & pour a new cap the next day. The chimney could probably benefit from some minor tuckpointing as well.
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:11 PM   #4
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


That's very helpful, thank you! Would you happen to have any suggestions on how to find a good, honest mason to do the cap (not something I want to try and tackle myself)? And any idea on price range for something like that (ballpark)?

I've been reading up on tuckpointing/repointing and it doesn't seem too complicated. Just a little dangerous if you don't have scaffolding. Would anyplace that has a crack in the mortar, and any place where the face of the brick has come off need to be repointed?

And would a sealant be of benefit to help prevent more brick faces from coming off?
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:17 PM   #5
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Look in the phone book, call a masonary supply house and ask for some names.
Call them on the phone. Ask if they are licensed, insured and bonded. If the answer is yes, give them a brief synopsis of your problem. They may want to look at the job, set appointments. Make sure you do not have 2 contractors show up at the same time. Make notes, write down what is to be done and ask for proof of insurance, W/C, and bond. Have everyone give estimates on the same job process. Throw out the highest, the lowest and make a decision among those that are left. Call whatever passes for the contractors board, and check for insurance, workers comp and bond. Anyone who lied, don't use. If permits and inspections are required, have the contractor get them. Then stay out of the way.

If you hire an unlicensed contractor off of Craig's List, you deserve what you get.
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:17 AM   #6
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Thank you so much! That is a great list. There are a couple of items in your list that I hadn't thought of. I have just a couple of follow-up questions:
  • What is "W/C"?
  • Do you happen to know where I would find the contractors board to verify the information you mentioned--for Indiana where the house is located--. I found a statement online that a "License [is] required for plumbing. All other licensing is done at the local county level." Looking at both the county (Boone) and city levels I don't see any way of verifying this information. Not sure if, with your experience, you would know where to look next.
  • Would you recommend that anywhere there is a crack in the mortar, and any place where the face of the brick has come off need to be repointed (and of course if the mortar is soft or crumbling)?
  • And would a sealant be of benefit to help prevent more brick faces from coming off (once it is all done and cured)?
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:58 AM   #7
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


1. W/C is workers compensation, which will typically just be a separate line on their standard insurance.

2. I do not know of a particular list that you can go to. Maybe someone else does, but in the mean time, just start with a phone book, whitepages.com, or whatever. Once you talk with two or three contractors, you should have a pretty good idea if any of them are pulling you leg a bit.

3. A good mason will look it over, and knw where it needs to be pointed. In other words, you're hiring an expert, so let them tell you, rather than you tell them. Then, if you disagree, let them explain.

4. The bricks should not need a sealnat to eliminate damage to the brick. The reason that they separated is that moisture got in there, and froze, either via the cap, the cracks between the bricks, or both. Once you have the repairs done, you should be in good shape. Make sure that you tell them that you want the cap to overhang the bricks by at least an inch or two. You can decide how far you want, but you definitely do not want a cap flush witht he bricks, or you will be doing it all over again in a yer or two.
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Old 08-02-2010, 01:14 PM   #8
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Thanks! I've emailed a few people in the local county and city to hopefully find out if they have a board to verify a contractor's insurance etc. Doesn't seem like it's as tightly regulated in Indiana as I would like.

The tuckpointing doesn't seem too complicated. I've studied it a bit. Do you think this is something I could do in order to save labor cost (and leave the cap to the experts)? This is why I was asking about the repointing. My mother doesn't have excess money, so anything I can do to save her some is important. I've done a lot of various diy projects through my life and am fairly handy. I don't do shoddy work when I choose to do something. I research the bejeezers out of it. What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:36 PM   #9
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


If the chimney is not in use and will not be used, why not knock it down below the roof level, build the roof over it and then there will never be a problem with spauling again.
With our high efficiency heating systems, chimneys are now redundant.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:50 PM   #10
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildie View Post
If the chimney is not in use and will not be used, why not knock it down below the roof level, build the roof over it and then there will never be a problem with spauling again.
With our high efficiency heating systems, chimneys are now redundant.
Chimney looks to be on the exterior of the house.
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:54 AM   #11
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Correct, it is on the exterior of the house. The primary purpose of a fireplace in most homes today isn't heating the house. In fact it can detract from heating the house. But that doesn't mean it isn't desirable.

Anyone have any informed thoughts on the tuckpointing? Or how to verify the contractor information in Indiana that DexterII mentioned?
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:54 AM   #12
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Not sure what contractor information that I mentioned, other than suggesting that you start with a local phone listing, so I assume that you are asking how to verify that they are properly licensed. In that case, as someone else mentioned, simply ask them, and if you choose to verify their word, ask them for the governing agency, whether state, county, or lcoal, and contact that agency, if you wish to take it to that point. As for insurance, although the governing agency quite possibly asked for a current certificate at the time that the license was issued, you, as the perosn hiring the contractor, should ask for a copy direct from the contractor, not from the governing agency. The insurance certificate that they provide you will generally list general liability, automobile liability, workers compensation, etc., as well as an effective and expiration date and dollar limit for each of these coverages.
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:09 PM   #13
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Yeah, that's what I was asking about. I guess I didn't make that clear. Thanks for the info. As I mentioned previously, I grew up doing a lot of job ourselves, so hiring someone isn't something I'm as familiar with. And the times I have hired someone and asked a lot of questions (even through referral) it hasn't gone so well. So thank you!

Regarding the repointing/tuckpointing, it doesn't seem too complicated. I've studied it a bit. Do you think this is something I could do in order to save labor cost (and leave the cap to the experts)? What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:21 AM   #14
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Player, you sound like a guy who I have no doubt could repoint the brick, and if that is correct, I am sure that you could construct the forms and pour the cap as well (and no, I am not trying to be funny or whaterver; I mean it). The main things, in my opinion, in regard to pouring the cap, are to wrap the flue with a compresive material, such as foam, to allow the concrete space to shrink without cracking, allow for the cap to overhang the bricks, slope away from the flue, slope the bottom of the overhang, and caulk the fluw when done. However, how bad do you really want to do it yourself. The expert obviously has the experience, but while gaining that experience, he or she also learned the tricks along the way. I have done some pointing, and it's not necesarily an easy task, particularly on a chimney, where you are up and down the ladder. When it came time to point our chimney and replace the cap, I called two local masons for estimates, weighed them against my material cost and time, and ended up writing one of them a check. I knew what it should look like when it was done, so I carefully inspected it, and feel that I got a very good job for a very reasonable price. Just one of those things that it made more sense to repair with a check.
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:40 PM   #15
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How serious is this Chimney stack brick problem (pics)?


Thank you for your confidence. I agree with what you're saying about reasons for hiring a professional. I'm pretty set on hiring someone for the cap, I'm just curious about the repointing and some of the details regarding that so that I know what my options are (whether I would tackle the repointing and let the professionals do the cap, or let the professionals do it all).

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