Fireplace, help!

Jujube

New Member
Jun 29, 2020
6
NJ
Hello, we just bought a home that was built in the 60’s. I want to be sure the fireplace is safe before my family useS it. We had a few companies come out and got a wide range of prices and advice. I’m not sure what to make of it all as this is the first time we have had a fireplace. We need a new liner. One company said the terra-cotta has to be broken up and removed before a liner scan be installed and the other two companies said it does not. Those same two companies said we also need a new liner for the boiler and new larger piping. The other company never asked to see the boiler. One said all the bricks need repointing or the chimney will collapse in two years, while another said just the top of the chimney needs repointing. And another company said just to spray with a waterproof sealer. Now out of these 3 companies each has a different price. ....11k, 6k, and $4800.00. I’m so unsure of who to trust! Any advice on how to proceed and if these prices seem reasonable?
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,667
NNJ
I had a similar experience regarding installing central air conditioning. I suggest using Home advisor and get a couple of more estimates. At least you can see the reviews the contractors have received.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,492
central pa
Hello, we just bought a home that was built in the 60’s. I want to be sure the fireplace is safe before my family useS it. We had a few companies come out and got a wide range of prices and advice. I’m not sure what to make of it all as this is the first time we have had a fireplace. We need a new liner. One company said the terra-cotta has to be broken up and removed before a liner scan be installed and the other two companies said it does not. Those same two companies said we also need a new liner for the boiler and new larger piping. The other company never asked to see the boiler. One said all the bricks need repointing or the chimney will collapse in two years, while another said just the top of the chimney needs repointing. And another company said just to spray with a waterproof sealer. Now out of these 3 companies each has a different price. ....11k, 6k, and $4800.00. I’m so unsure of who to trust! Any advice on how to proceed and if these prices seem reasonable?
Well we have no way of knowing anything without some detailed pics and measurements of everything
 

buc74

Member
Oct 16, 2012
88
Fort Atkinson, WI
Just to give you an example of a cost to correct our chimney. $2,700 to rebuild ours from the roof line up and seal. I'd also be sure the contractors are certified chimney professionals, my experience was most were not. We just purchased the home also.
IMG_1238.JPG
 
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Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,228
Southeast CT
Just to give you an example of a cost to correct our chimney. $2,700 to rebuild ours from the roof line up and seal. I'd also be sure the contractors are certified chimney professionals, my experience was most were not. We just purchased the home also.
View attachment 261358
Agreed. My experience has been very hit or miss with chimney guys. Definitely do your homework with reviews. Personally, I think a good test question is asking the chimney guys what they think about insulating the liner. It’s required in virtually all installations. If they balk at that, send them on their way.
 
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buc74

Member
Oct 16, 2012
88
Fort Atkinson, WI
Agreed. My experience has been very hit or miss with chimney guys. Definitely do your homework with reviews. Personally, I think a good test question is asking the chimney guys what they think about insulating the liner. It’s required in virtually all installations. If they balk at that, send them on their way.
This installer actually required I have an insulated liner and a block off plate when he puts the stove in. Which required him to remove the clay flue for it to fit. He added that being an interior chimney this was not as critical, but I would get the best performance out of my stove. I felt confident after talking with him. The other two installers felt no need for the plate and would add even add at my request. The block off plate is a good question also.
 

Jujube

New Member
Jun 29, 2020
6
NJ
Agreed. My experience has been very hit or miss with chimney guys. Definitely do your homework with reviews. Personally, I think a good test question is asking the chimney guys what they think about insulating the liner. It’s required in virtually all installations. If they balk at that, send them on their way.
Thank you. Not one of them mentioned anything about insulation :(. Maybe it was a given that it's included? I will definitely verify going forward!
 
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Jujube

New Member
Jun 29, 2020
6
NJ
This installer actually required I have an insulated liner and a block off plate when he puts the stove in. Which required him to remove the clay flue for it to fit. He added that being an interior chimney this was not as critical, but I would get the best performance out of my stove. I felt confident after talking with him. The other two installers felt no need for the plate and would add even add at my request. The block off plate is a good question also.
thank you for this info. What is a block off plate?
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,228
Southeast CT
Hopefully the original poster gets a pro out there with the same diligence.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,492
central pa
How detailed? I can take pictures!
Take as many pictures of as many different areas of the chimney that you can. The more info you give us the more we can help out. Pricing is going to vary allot by area so that we may not be able to help in that regard.
 
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Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
1,630
Marshall NC
You need to be aware of the 1:10 rule.
My girlfriend's daughter had a 1960 fireplace rebuilt in Atlanta, several years ago. The guy was good! He rebuilt the fire box.
He installed a stainless steel pipe. Looked great real professional job. Cost $2700.
But the fireplace would not draw well. Smoked badly.

Monica called the guy up and he said that he did a good job, and he didn't know what her problem was. He came out and looked at it, he said he saw nothing wrong, gave her some story about the "house didn't draw well" and told Monica she needed to open a window to burn the fireplace. And he said "Thanks for your business see ya later."
What BS! Just great, open the window on a 33 degree day and let the cold air blow over you.
Besides, Monica had already tried that and it didn't work, but, some of the smoke left the room through the open window.

How this guy could do this for a living, and not be aware of the 1:10 rule escapes me.
This states that the area of the fire box opening should be about 10 times greater than the area of the flue.
If the fireplace opening is 30 x 30, you have 900 square inches. You need a flue of about 90 square inches. If you had flue tile that was 10x9 inside measurement, that would be 90 square inches and that would work fine.
I measured the fireplace opening and I went up on the roof and measured the old tile flue. And, using "pi R squared," I calculated the area of the pipe. That mason in 1960 had followed the 1:10 rule almost to the inch. Now, the new opening was the same, but of course with a round pipe, the size of the flue had been reduced. It was now about 1:14, the pipe was way too small.

The fix is to make the opening smaller. I got some masking tape and taped a strip of aluminum foil, six inches wide, onto the top of the fireplace opening, it went the full width of the fireplace. So now the opening was six inches shorter and we were back to 1:10.
The fireplace drew perfectly.

The aluminum foil didn't look too good. Monica went to the wood stove store and bought a six inch wide piece of decorative cast iron that was made just for this purpose. She installed it in five minutes, it has screws mounted in it and she put it in in five minutes with a screw driver.

Monica thought I was pretty smart.
It pays to pay attention in tenth grade Geometry.
 
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Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,228
Southeast CT
Thank you. Not one of them mentioned anything about insulation :(. Maybe it was a given that it's included? I will definitely verify going forward!
I would bet that it’s not included if it is not in writing on the estimate. I’d ask them about it and if they tell you it’s not needed, run.
 

Jujube

New Member
Jun 29, 2020
6
NJ
I would bet that it’s not included if it is not in writing on the estimate. I’d ask them about it and if they tell you it’s not needed, run.
We asked the one company that we were leaning toward going with and he said it's optional. He would do it if we want but it will add another $1000 to the bill. I asked if the insulation was necessary in the chimney/fireplace working properly and he gave a very vague answer. I did a little research online and it said something about condensation builds up without insulation and eventually that condensation will damage the bricks. Is that right? Is there another reason for the insulation?

Our boiler also is vented in a separate flu that goes up the chimney. This liner needs replacing, too ( and is a higher priority for us to get done) . He told us boiler lines are never insulated. Does that sound right?
 
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Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,228
Southeast CT
Steel liners definitely should be insulated definitely for wood burning. I don’t have any idea what is best practice for liners used for gas or things other than wood.
The primary reason for it is to reduce heat transfer to the masonry of your chimney. In the event of a chimney fire the insulation will help protect combustible house framing and other materials that Your chimney touches. Additionally, the insulation helps keep the liner warmer, which will help draft.
Did your installers talk about getting a permit from the town? I only ask bc that would be a sign that the installer does good work. Not always, of course. I recently had a new deck built. I went with guy who said that part of his process is getting a permit. The finished product is very well done. Alternatively, The first time I had my chimney relined for a wood insert, the installer I went with never mentioned it (and I wasn’t aware one was needed). I realized after the fact that he did a pretty poor job and I ended up going with a better company to get it done right.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,492
central pa
We asked the one company that we were leaning toward going with and he said it's optional. He would do it if we want but it will add another $1000 to the bill. I asked if the insulation was necessary in the chimney/fireplace working properly and he gave a very vague answer. I did a little research online and it said something about condensation builds up without insulation and eventually that condensation will damage the bricks. Is that right? Is there another reason for the insulation?

Our boiler also is vented in a separate flu that goes up the chimney. This liner needs replacing, too ( and is a higher priority for us to get done) . He told us boiler lines are never insulated. Does that sound right?
Gas or oil boiler liners don't nessecarily neeb insulated but it is always better. Insulation on solid fuel liners is a safety and code issue.
 
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