Chimney Repair Options

A damaged chimney can be a major hazard. Old, crumbling masonry on the outside of the chimney may indicate that there is structural damage. This means that not only is the chimney in danger of collapsing, it may also be leaking harmful smoke or gases into your home when you use it, if the damage penetrates into the flue or fire box. Interior structural damage, like cracked clay liners or cracking in the interior masonry can also pose these threats, along with the danger of allowing a chimney fire to escape the chimney. You have a few options for repair, depending on the severity of the damage.

Option #1: Replace the Liner

Most older chimneys have clay tile liners, which were then mortared over to create an airtight seal inside the chimney. Time, settling, and heat cause these liners to eventually crack. Fortunately, it is possible to replace this liner and make the chimney safe for use if there is no major structural damage to the chimney itself. Most new liners are made of steel, so they are not in danger of cracking. Installing one of these is often less expensive than replacing the entire chimney. This is only an option if the chimney is still relatively sound, with only minor cracking.

Option #2: A Partial Rebuild

Occasionally, you may see damage to only one part of the chimney. It can be common to have cracking near the top of the chimney, at the junction with the roof. This is usually caused when the house settles unevenly. If further settling isn't considered a problem, you may be able to have only the damaged portion replaced.

Another common issue is for the mortar in the joints between the bricks to begin to crumble. At first, this is just a cosmetic issue but it can become a structural problem if it's allowed to persist. Repointing the mortar, which means replacing the mortar but not the bricks, is a viable alternative that is less expensive than replacing the entire chimney.

Option #3: Tear It Out

If you don't really use your fireplace and the replacement costs are out of your budget, you can always have the chimney removed. This is usually less costly than a replacement. The repair technicians will take out the old chimney and then seal up the hole. If you still want to have the look of a fire, they can leave the firebox in place. They will modify it so you can place an electric or gas artificial fireplace in the space. These types of fireplaces don't need a chimney, so there is no need to replace the exterior brick work. Any interior masonry repairs will be purely cosmetic.

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