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Fireplace "condemned" by chimney sweep

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by robertswrites, Dec 28, 2005.

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  1. robertswrites

    robertswrites New Member

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    Greetings, fireplace experts.
    We had our chimney cleaned by a commercial cleaning service, which proceeded to condemn our fireplace, indicating that we don't have a chimney cap, the smoke chamber needs to be parged (I think they mean "purged") and the liner needs to be replaced. All to the tune of $10,000. We have no reason to disbelieve the company, but would like to get a couple of more expert opinions. Any advice as to where to go? Also, would this be a reasonable (if you can call $10,000 for anything reasonable) expense for all of this work?

    Thank you. And, Happy New Year.

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  2. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    For 10,000 you could put in a small new custom Tulikivi masonary heater with a new chimney. I'd say something isn't quite right, BUT, without looking at the situation, If the chimney needs to be rebuilt out of masonry material, meaning the old one needs to be removed, the new one installed by a mason including interior carpentry work, well, it could be in the ball park. I think we need more info, pictures, etc to judge this.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I hate to say this, but even chimney sweeps agree that there are many among them that can tend to oversell things...of course, they are the ones that end up profitting!

    A Chimney cap? About $20-$100 and there is not a code in most places that requires it....although it is nice to have, no reason to condemn a chimney and list this!

    Parging the smoke chamber - who knows? Most I've seen haven't needed such a thing, but this basically means a layer of stucco over it.

    Lining - Well, most sweeps have never seen a chimney that they didn't have to line.

    I would guess that if you had 5 sweeps in there, you would get 5 different opinions!

    Are all the tiles cracked badly? Tiles have small hairline cracks almost from when they are new....if mortar is missing between the tile joints, there is a squeegee that you can drop down and pull back up with some poured mortar on it to force into joints.

    How are you intending to use the fireplace? If you put a set of gas logs in it, perhaps none of the above is needed.

    For $3,000 or so you can have a good wood burning insert installed WITH a liner and cap. About the same or a little more for a highly efficient gas insert.

    You wouldn't be on Long Island, would you? I've had customers call me and tell me that there are a lot of chimney sweep scams going on out there! When the public mentions this to me, it must be pretty widely known...

    Perhaps another sweep opinion might be good. Look for a small guy - independent. I only say this cause you seem to have had the larger company already.

    10 grand is a LOT of money to spend on making fireplace upgrades...
  4. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    He's a chimney sweep, he couldn't condemn a bad tuna sandwich. I'd tune his opinion out until you have at least two more, from competing sweeps. Learn more before you make a decision. Regarding price, for that work he is out of his mind. For example, I had my 6' by 3' by 20' block and stucco chimney leveled, removed, and replaced with a 6x3x23 wire cut brick chimney, with a full slate cap, for that money... and I am on Long Island, albeit the very very end. Mind you, when I accepted bids on the job, the price varied by over 110%, from a low of 8K to a high of 17,500, for the same job, with the same materials. I picked a guy in the middle, but on the low side.
    What are you using this chimney for, a fireplace, insert, stove? Wood, coal, pellet? It all matters. If you have an open fireplace and were thinking of converting to a stove/insert, now may be your time. You could get the stove and a new liner for 3-4K tops.

    -- Mike
  5. robertswrites

    robertswrites New Member

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    The house is 25 years old, supposedly built by one of the better builders of the day. It is masonry all the way up two stories (at least 20 feet), with apparently a metal liner down the middle. It is faced in stone, and we use it for nothing more than pleasure in our den. It has a gas starter, but we're still buying a cord of wood, then using about half of it throughout the winter. We live in Atlanta, so it is definitely not a source of heat.

    Excellent reply, and I'm begining to feel like I can get my arms around this thing.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't think I'd believe anything an Atlanta chimney sweep had to say. Obviously the guy is making this stuff up as he goes along. How else do you expect him to make any money sweeping chimneys in Atlanta?
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    They have probably been real big on fire safety there every since Sherman came through town one time.
  8. robertswrites

    robertswrites New Member

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    Well, that certainly takes the edge off things. Kinda cast a pall over our Christmas celebration when they gave us the news of prospectively being $10,000 lighter in the wallet. So, should I consult another chimney sweep company or an installer of masonry fireplaces or a fireman?

    Thank you all for your excellent, level-headed advice.
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I would go here:

    http://www.atlanta.bbb.org/search.html

    And look at the Better Business Bureau records for chimney sweeps and chimney repair companies and pick one to come out and take a look. No need to mention the other guy.

    Chimney Solutions looks like a pretty solid company and has had no customer complaints to the bureau in three years and says they do free examinations and estimates.
  10. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    First I read this, and got iced tea through the nose laughing...

    but then I read THIS, and nearly fell off the chair...

    Its enough to make this Yankee Auburn Tiger cry...

    - Mike
  11. Jake

    Jake Member

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    My sweep basically told me that If I used my fireplace, he could almost guarentee that my house would burn down :) my house is 55 years old and has a masonry chimneny. The flue tiles are cracked, the mortar has water damage, I forget what is wrong with the smoke chamber, and the cap is homemade and way weay too small. HE estiomated to rebuild it correctly it would cost 3-5K

    Next year I'll have a insert with a ss liner :)
  12. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Most of the responses were thinking you had a masonry chimney with a clay flue liner. It was latter on that you provided it was a metal liner. 20 or 25 years ago there were no standards No Ul 103 No HT 2100. You could have an Alumium liner sutiable for gas fuel appliances. not for the heat generated from wood. Also even today gas liners many only carry a ten year warranty. Even if it Stailless steel 20 to 25 years probably a much thinner gage than required by today's codes, that is the life cycle. We all assumed clay liners and setup, But your sweep is correct that the metal liner requires a proper termination cap. With a metal liner parging of the smoke chamber to the the transition is criticle to sealing that connection. Again your sweep could be right. Damn he was probably correct about its condition. and defeciencies. The thing I take issue with is the cost, that seems way out of wack. Please provide me with your fireplace opening and size of your existing liner size. With that info. It might be possible to install smaller stainless steel liner
    inside your existing one

    Still under CPR Volenzang death box in a garage with a 3" vent. Please someone else set this poor ba***** straight. Its too late in the evening,for me to get wound up now. Is this a legit post or is someone trying to bait me?
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