"Functional" fireplace with no liner, crown, or cap

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nicksail

New Member
Oct 17, 2021
4
Holland, MI
Hi guys, we just bought a house and I've got a supposedly "functional" fireplace that needs $6500 in refit.

First, and most pressing, there's no cap on the top of the fireplace. No crown either. No nothing except brick! (see photo)
chimney 2.JPG
chimney top.JPG

Eventually, I'd like to run a metal chimney liner down to the fireplace. But for the moment, I just need to keep the snow and rain out. What are my options here if I'm thinking about eventually using the fireplace? The inside of the opening is 9"x13" and the outside is roughly 15.25 x 19.25.

Could I just do a chase cap? A pre-made 16x20 chase cap looks like it would fit, and if I'm going to do a stainless steel liner anyway, perhaps I could throw a rain cap on top and call it good until I get up the ambition to deal with the next step.

Next step = the liner. Or lack thereof. It's just bare brick as far as I can tell. I think I need to install a stainless steel flexible liner. Since this is a fireplace, it looks like I would use a mesh base plate to accept the liner at the smoke chamber -- and would then need to parge the smoke chamber where the liner terminates. However, the damper is in the way of the smoke chamber. Removing the damper looks like it will involve some destruction! And after removal (if necessary), is the best option to install a top mounted damper?


flue opening.JPG


flue to firebox.JPG

And while I may be decent with DIY, I can imagine everyone yelling "safety first!" quite loudly. But with 3 kids on one teacher salary, I can't afford the $6500 quote to fix this baby up. So some might say I should just live without a fireplace.

At the very least, I need to cap the top of the chimney. I don't really want any squirrels coming to live inside this winter. :)

Recommendations?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,605
South Puget Sound, WA
For now, plunk a plate of metal or plywood on top with a cement block as a weight. Dampers are often cut or removed to facilitate a liner.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,216
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Anything water tight to put on there. For a temporary solution you might by able to find a big Rubbermaid container the right size to put upside down over the chimney and weight it down so it can't blow off.
 

nicksail

New Member
Oct 17, 2021
4
Holland, MI
Thanks, I think I can probably find a large landscaping stone or piece of plastic for a short term solution.

As far as the long term solution goes, I'm sure I will need to remove the flue in order to put in a liner. I'd like to then install a top-sealing damper. Could I skip the crown, use a chase cover, and connect a top-sealing flue at the top? So the configuration would be smoke box > liner > chase cover > top sealing flue. Does that work?

I haven't done a lot of research on it yet, but I'm guessing there are quality top-sealing dampers that I could connect to a chase cover?

Thanks so much for your help and advice!
 

armanidog

Feeling the Heat
Jan 8, 2017
365
Northeast Georgia
Have you thought of using a wood stove or insert since you are putting in a liner? You would get more heat in your house from burning wood. Then you could skip the top damper.
It looks like a chimney job that got interrupted, I cannot believe a mason would leave those holes on top of the chimney. And it looks like the mortar is starting to separate from the brick.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,614
Northern NH
How about one of the advertisers on this site

https://www.rockfordchimneysupply.c...MIkIGHoLLW8wIVO9LICh14jg_qEAEYASAAEgIGSvD_BwE. I expect they will sell you one without a hole in it. Ideally find out what the Outer Diameter would be for the liner and have the hole cut for it then buy a blank cap for it and screw it on.

In the meantime rig up an airtight blanking plate for the fireplace opening as lot of your heat will be going straight up it.
 

nicksail

New Member
Oct 17, 2021
4
Holland, MI
Thanks guys,

I like the idea of the wood stove insert, I would just need to do some research on the cost and install. There are quite a few used inserts on facebook marketplace, so that could be an option to save money.

I did see the Rockford Chimney Supply chase cover - seems like a good price and they have a lot of helpful information on their site. For now, the chase cover with a blank cap on it seems like the way to go. The problem is that I don't know what size hole I need until I choose an insert. Or decide to go with the fireplace... which would mean I pull out the flue, parge the smoke box, install a top sealing damper. The insert is sounding much better to me at this point. Especially if I can find a used one that would work.

For attaching the chase cover, any advice on how to prep the brick? As far as I know, it's been bare like that for a couple of years. I don't know why rain and snow aren't a problem. It was raining cats and dogs outside and I didn't see any moisture inside the firebox. The chimney has a slight turn, maybe 30 degrees, so maybe that has something to do with it. I have no idea.
 

armanidog

Feeling the Heat
Jan 8, 2017
365
Northeast Georgia
Anyone local able to make one for you? I looked it up and there are at least four shops in Holland, MI. They might be cheaper.

I would use something like Tapcon fasteners to attach the cover. You can use them on brick or mortar. I usually buy their drill bit for the particular size fasteners.
Also, if those top bricks are loose I would take them off and replace with solid brick or make the cover fit over the overhang until you can replace those top bricks next year.
It's probably getting cold up there. I saw that Holland, MI gets 70 inches average of snow. Is that lake effect snow?
The rain and snow drips probably fall on the smoke shelf and either dries or seeps into crevices.
 
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nicksail

New Member
Oct 17, 2021
4
Holland, MI
Thanks- yes, we get a fair amount of snow and a lot of that is weather that builds up over the lake. We've had some unusually warm weather and just now getting into fall colors. It was pouring rain last night and I got a headlamp and tried to see how much water was coming in. Remarkably very little. Not sure why that is.

I think the bricks on top are pretty solid, but I'll do a double check when I'm up there next.

In terms of cost for a chase cover, the places around here actually seem a bit more expensive but I'll do some shopping around. I need to decide about wood burning insert vs trying to make the current firebox work...