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Advice on damaged clay tile, please.

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by cattynat, Oct 5, 2006.

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  1. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    Thanks, everybody, for the responses on my other thread. There's a lot of helpful info around here and I appreciate all the folks who take the time to share their knowledge.

    Here's today's issue :) :

    I went up to the roof yesterday to check the tops of the flues and chimney -- with my 9-year old standing guard in case I fell off, lol. First of all there's no cap -- which will be taken care of -- and some cracks in the crown -- which will be taken care of (they're temporarily "fixed" right now so at least water's not getting into them currently) -- and some flashing issues -- which will be taken care of. All soon! The fireplace flue looks ok, some very light dusting of soot up top (just had it cleaned on Friday) and some hairline cracks in the top level of the clay liner, where it juts up from the crown. But otherwise clean and the mortar between the other runs looks ok from what I can see. And we are good about getting it cleaned regularly.

    The second flue, for the gas furnace and water heater, is clean as a whistle BUT there's a tile about two runs down (6 feet or so) that has had it's face split away from the chimney wall and is leaning inwards. It's just a matter of time before it falls down and blocks the flue, I'm sure. It's a cohesive slice, about 10" square, and if I had a long handled claw I could grab it and pull it up. But I don't. I'm guessing this is due to water damage from no cap and/or cracked crown. Possibly condensation (?) but the rest of the flue looks good, from what I can see.

    Since this flue is for venting gases is there a way I can have it fixed without relining, etc.? Can a mason pull the broken piece up and seal that area of the flue or the whole flue, while he takes care of the crown and cap and flashing, without an expensive reline? Unfortunately, there's no $ left in the budget for any of this. :smirk: The chimney comes up through an unfinished attic space above a single story family room/garage space. So it's not against an outside wall but it doesn't run through the main house, either.

    Sorry this is so long. Hope it reads quickly! Thanks, again, for any advice.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    What type of fuel is being used?
    If it is gas, you might be able to get away with using an aluminum liner. If you dig around, the materials can be had for less than $200 and it is a relatively easy job for your heating guy, etc.

    I'm afraid that your description does call for a relining. As I have ranted about many times, clay tile should probably be illegal because it virtually always cracks and has lots of other problems....but the masonry industry has a good lobby!

    There is a process....some sweeps can do it, where they drop a small squegee down the chimney and then pour a small amount of slurry on top of it. Then they pull the thing up and it forces cement into any small or medium cracks. This might be fine if you could DIY, but the cost of having it done pro or buying the equipment to do it once would be better put towards a reline.

    The exhaust from gas and oil furnaces can - and does - kill people. You must have a decent flue for maximum safety. In the mean time, make certain you have CO detectors installed, tested and working!
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Note - it is possible that a mason could remove the top three tiles and drop new ones in....which would be relatively low cost.
  4. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    Thanks for the info and ideas. (And for reminding me I need to check my CO monitor!)
    This is one of those things that's making me grimace a little bit after a few straight years of one-thing-after-another, house repair-wise. :-S And I hate being so low on cash that I'm "nickel and diming," but at least it's forcing me to do some homework before each repair. I need to keep things safe and usable, obviously, but I also need to be frugal these days and learn about my options.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, it always pays to know what you are in for!

    As mentioned, if you use gas you can probably save a lot with an aluminum liner. Oh, I'm a speed reader... you ARE using gas! Yes, the combined output of the furnace and hot water heater can probably be vented into a 5 or 6" aluminum flexible liner...

    Something like this....

    About $200 includes interior pipe to "Y" the two appliances.

    Hmm, South Shore - wait, I'll just send our friendly handy Elk over there.....he's handy as heck. You know, the guy with the shifty eyes avatar?
  6. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    6' down either in the attic space or near your living space. In a perfect world nothing deteriorates all clay flue castings are fine for many years . Reality is, you could have gotten one that was flawed from the get go

    one solution is a chimney rebuild from the flue up, the most expensive solution unless, the to portion is also showing signs of age.
    in that case it would require a rebuild. Craig mentioned the cheapest solution, an alumium chimney reline. A word of caution aceptable by code Alumium re liner many are only good for 10 years but cheaper, than a more permant solution, a stainless steel liner good foe 25+ years and the same labor to install. . Craig also mentioned another solution break out the esisting liners down to the damaged one anf have the area re cast this is a pro job, not for DIY or weekend warrior, I don't know a cost for that

    Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.” so are other advengers
  7. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    Thanks, guys.
    You're giving me a lot of helpful information. (Although, frankly, I wish SOMEONE would say "Don't worry, it's really all a figment of your imagination.")
    Any idea what I'm looking at to have the crown and flashing fixed and a cap installed? Any of this do-able by us "weekend warriors?" (I'd think the cap, at least. And the flashing -- although I've learned that flashing can certainly be botched -- had a "contractor" completely mess that up not too long ago, ugh. Water, water everywhere.)

    Are there caps that you can open or remove for chimeny cleaning?
  8. berlin

    berlin New Member

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    bust the top three tiles, butter the ends of the new ones and slide them down gently, clean out the debris at the bottom of the chimney and your done. 2hours max.
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Berlin I like they way You think yeah that would do it. as for re flashing sounds like the first pro screwed that up..

    Not enought action on the garden web?
  10. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    :ahhh: Elk! How did you know I'm an old GardenWebber???? Or was that for someone else? (I'm a Soil-and-Compost gal.)

    And I ALSO like the idea of taking out those first few runs. Smart cookie! But will it be tough to clean out the bottom of the flue after the tiles are busted up? I've never looked down to see how to access it... Will I need to turn off or disconnect my appliances?
  11. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Try this build a plywood square bucket just a bit smaller that the flue put an eye loop in the middle and with decent rope drop it down below the flue you are breaking out. It will collect most of the debris and pull it as often as needed to empty it

    John Steed to the rescue
  12. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    ooo, Steed, great idea.
    What if I added some rubber strips along the edges to make kind of a gasket thing?
  13. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    oops, nix that. don't want to create a seal inside the venting flue, right? yikes. i can see myself getting it stuck halfway down and killing off all life in the house... or blowing it up...
    forget i said anything
    you're idea's just swell as-is
  14. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    If it were the top two liners then the job is not too bad. But not to rain on the parade, lets do a reality check. The deeper you reach down that flue the less working room. All tools should have a saftey twine or rope attached to them should they drop. Clay flues are not light weight bending over and extending as far as you can reach your back will really feel it. A thought process and skill level is needed to be sucessfull Berlin could probably do It. I could but as you can see I would be planning every step of the way.

    With that said what are the alternatives? did you know there that square stainless steel flue liners can be made to sleeve into your existing flue? and overlap one ft further? beyond the damaged flue liner. Again the cheapest way is a full liner and posibly within the realm of your ability, with helpfull instructions here. If you liner is not gone completely all the way threw then you may be ok for a short while. You could also get oppinions and estimates from a mason or chimney sweep

    Are ajoining flues located next to one another? or are the separated with a solid brick or block partition? BB if reading this, the reason for the new code change requiring the wyth. Before you start smashing flue liners out have a plan within your abilities to be able to sucesfully complete what you started. PM me your location if close enough I am willing to look your situation over
  15. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    Thanks for all this, Elk. I never go into any project without thorough planning either, which can drive others nuts but I've never been disappointed in the pay-off of covering my bases. :) In the case of this chimney situation, I am trying to learn as much as possible and find out all the alternatives before tackling it, but the time of year will be working against me soon.

    Replacing the tiles probably isn't a DIY job for us right now, in all practicality. (Younger bodies and older offspring, who don't need constant supervision, might make things different!) But I'm really glad to be learning about it so I can discuss it, and maybe even suggest it, with some degree of intelligence.

    Yeah, it might very well make the most sense to put a full liner in this flue but I need to compare costs and shop a little bit. I'd love to hand this off to my faithful man-sevant Jeeves to take care of and not bother me with the little details of life but, well, there is no Jeeves. :)

    Actually "there's this guy" here in town that is a good handyman, jack of all trades type, that really is good at what he does. Smart guy and careful and thorough and very trustworthy, etc. He's helped us with other stuff over the years (we've always lived in "fixer-uppers"). He's not the most elegant finish guy around, maybe, but you can trust his work to be done right. Think taking care of this chimney list is appropriate for him even if he's not a mason, per se? I figure I ought to get ideas and prices from a few people.

    (And thank you for your offer to swing by. I think I live a good 1/2 hour from your area but will certainly check with you if I'm hitting dead ends around here.)
  16. cattynat

    cattynat New Member

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    Oh, and FYI, there's a solid partition of brick between the two flues, yes.
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