The top part of my chimney has a couple of rows that are starting to deteriorate. Should I just replace those top rows if the rest of the bricks look okay?
I would highly recommend completing a chimney rebuild down to the roofline even if there is no obvious damage noticed. Often there is hidden damage inside the brick such as cracks and decay. For example, if your brickwork is 25 years old and you choose to repair only the top half of the chimney above the roofline, the untouched bottom half above the roofline will continue to deteriorate and is likely going to need repair much sooner than the new top half. This means that down the line you will have to pay someone a second time to remove the top portion of your chimney (even if it is still in good condition) in order to rebuild the damaged bottom half above the roofline. This will cost you more in the long run.
How much does a chimney repair cost?
This is impossible to determine over the telephone or through an email. This is why we provide a free written quote explaining what our detailed inspection reveals.
How can I tell if my chimney needs repair?
Some tell tale signs are:
You may notice pieces of brick, flue tiles, mortar, etc. that have fallen down onto the roof, in the eaves troughs, or on the ground near the chimney
You may be getting smoke in your home from a wood burning fireplace due to a blockage in the flue tile or liner
You may be getting water inside your home around the chimney flashing
What is efflorescence?
It is a white powdery substance that can be seen on masonry products like brick or stone. For efflorescence to occur you need enough water-soluble salts inside the masonry product to pass through to the surface, then evaporate and deposit the salts which can crystalize causing efflorescence. This is a sign that you have an issue with moisture and will likely need masonry repairs to correct the problem.
Do I need a rain cap on my flue tile?
Yes, I highly recommend a cap be installed on top of the flue tile. We only use stainless steel, non-rusting caps. They assist in keeping out rain, snow and animals which can save on wear and tear of your flue tiles and prevent a blockage created by an animal which can cost you a call to a pest control company.
Does my chimney need a chimney cap on top of the last course?
Yes, for maintenance reasons and longevity, every chimney should have a chimney cap installed on the top course of brick because:
A chimney cap is made of concrete that is reinforced with rebar
A cap has approximately a 2" overhang all around the chimney to disperse water away from the brickwork below
It has a cut-in drip edge underneath the 2" overhang to help disperse a slow water drip away from the chimney
If possible, it is always better to install a one-piece concrete chimney cap instead of a cap in 2 or more pieces with seams; as the seams will deteriorate over time and allow water penetration inside the chimney.
This information is only meant to provide some knowledge regarding common chimney conditions and practices. Always get the advice of a professional before making any judgment based on these facts. Go with your gut when getting estimates !! If you get the feeling a masonry contractor is avoiding doing the job the right way for longevity, he may just be looking for a quick buck (the quickest way in and out is always a poor investment for the homeowner).
Be wise. Research your situation along with the masonry contractors you plan to call out for a detailed estimate – it will be well worth your time and pocketbook.