Chimney Repair Tips and Precautions

Chimney Repair Tips and Precautions

After chimney repair picture

Chimney Repair Tips

You will find these chimney repair tips and precautions to be helpful. Especially if your chimney has cracked brick or mortar that needs repaired.

Chimney Repair work is very common as most homes in North America have a chimney. Most chimneys are still built using some type of masonry; brick, stone or stucco being the most common types of chimneys.

Some companies only specialize in exterior chimney repairs, while others focus on the interior firebox, cleaning or “sweeping” and/or (re) lining the chimney with either traditional clay tile flues or newer metal flues. It’s the owner’s choice when deciding to select which chimney repair company to hire, but typically those companies that do it all are only so good when it comes down to the exterior of the chimney masonry repairs. The reason is simple. These “Do it All” chimney companies, in order to stay competitive, cannot pay the higher wages and benefits necessary to attract the best talent whom are the highly skilled masonry restoration specialists in their respective markets. Thus, they have to rely on less skilled workers to “Do it All”.

The quality and longevity of masonry and chimney repairs can vary greatly and even a lay person will immediately notice a difference between a chimney completed by a “Do it All” employee (essentially, a handy-man with limited masonry experience) and one done by an expert due to the obvious difference in craftsmanship.

Top 10 signs of non-professional Chimney Repair:

  1. Crowns (top of chimney that is usually concrete, stone or mortar) that are not built up or do not slope from center to edge of the chimney so water sheds off properly
  2.  Sloppy caulking of chimney flashing or sides of chimney where it meets the exterior wall
  3. Wrong type of brick was used in brick replacement or relaying of the chimney and/or poor patching and/or staining of brick or stone
  4. Mortar joints that do not match existing color and finish, mortar smeared on the brick, and/or it’s obvious the right mortar was not used in the repointing
  5. Chimney rain cap is not the right size or not anchored/secured well
  6. Hairline cracks are visible in the mortar joints and/or masonry units (brick, stone, block), including stucco
  7. Paint does not adhere well and is peeling/scaling
  8. Chimney was not final cleaned making it look dirty or incomplete
  9. Chimney is not sealed well or at all with a good commercial water repellent (not Thompson’s from your hardware store!)
  10. Clear silicone is smeared into a mortar joint to seal a crack in the joint and it looks horrible and will fail almost immediately.

So, taking chimney repair project lightly is not wise. Chimneys will continue to deteriorate causing internal water damage, possible structural damage to the home or roof, and even leak if not properly repaired.

Hire a Chimney Repair Expert

This is why, it is critical to hire an expert to repair your chimney. Yes, it may cost a little more, sometimes as much as 50% more, but it is well worth it as the repair work will not only save you money in the long run because re-work will not be required in the near future, but it will also look beautiful for years to come. I recommend seeking out a true masonry and chimney restoration contractor or specialist. Any company worth its weight will provide a fast and fair estimate and will also offer a full blown workmanship warranty for a minimum of two to three (2-3) years. Sometimes, such a company will even guarantee the chimney will not leak during this warranty period, no matter what, unless there is a man made or natural disaster like a tree falls and hits the chimney, etc.

This expert masonry contractor will understand how to make lasting renovations and repairs to your chimney and know that water is evil to masonry and be able to provide a finished product that will keep your chimney from leaking for years. They will shield your chimney and your valued property from the elements and protect it better than the “Do It All” types.

If you wish to get your chimney liner or flues cleaned, then by all means hire the chimney sweep company but don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your masonry structure of the exterior of your chimney on your beloved home.

Where can you find the experts on masonry restoration and chimney repairs? Check out the local BBB and seek out masonry repair or masonry restoration contractors that are A+  Accredited. Then cross reference/search for A rated companies on Angie’s List, check Google + pages, etc. It might help to learn who is an active member of professional organizations in the building trades such as BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association), IFMA (International Facilities Management Association), and/or IREM (International Real Estate Management), etc.

We hope these chimney repair tips are helpful for you in your research. Be sure to look at some of our chimney repair projects in the project section of our website.

Mark Huffer is President of Utmost Consulting and Utmost Renovations. He is a leading authority on Building Restoration and Historic Preservation.

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