Chimney repair cost guide
A fireplace is the central point of family leisure in many homes. How pleasant it is to sit before joyfully burning logs on a cold and gray winter day! A fireplace is also like a tender child in constant need of love and care. If you don't look after your firebox and chimney properly, a multitude of unpleasant things may happen to them. And if they do happen, you must attend to them immediately. Otherwise, a small issue may turn into a huge trouble that will cost you much more money to fix.
Here you will learn about:
Average chimney repair cost
Information to check
Other frequently asked questions
Chimneys in the majority of American homes are made of brick. They comprise several parts including firebox, damper, flue, liner, crown, cap, and some others. All of those may get out of order in this or that way. The masonry and crown may develop cracks. That may lead to water infiltration and embers escaping into the walls. The damaged cap may cause the blockage of the flue with small animals, birds' nests, or debris. The build-up of creosote inside the flue may result in a fire that may destroy the entire property and put the residents' lives at risk. There are multiple problems with a chimney that occur from time to time.
That's why regular monitoring of the chimney's condition is crucial. Chimney repairs are rarely performed by homeowners themselves, apart from sealing small cracks in the bricks or concrete. Only professional contractors can handle more serious tasks such as tuckpointing or complete chimney rebuilding. Depending on the type of the problem, the height of the chimney, and the materials, prepare to spend from $160 to $750 on average. The lowest reported price is $90 and the maximum is $1,800.
What are the most typical chimney issues and how much does it cost to fix them?
Creosote accumulation in the flue
A common problem for chimneys is the accumulation of creosote in the flue. Creosote is used to keep firewood in good shape. When you burn logs, this oily substance leaves the wood and settles on the inside of the chimney passage. As time goes by, the layer of creosote grows thicker. When it is about a quarter of an inch thick, it may start burning, causing a fire. Even if it doesn't ignite, though, it may lead to a dangerous gas - carbon monoxide - filling the rooms in the home. When you notice that it takes you too long to start a fire or the logs are burning too weakly, that's a clear sign of excessive creosote accumulation. To clean the flue, it's highly advisable to hire a professional chimney sweep. This is a very dirty job that requires a considerable amount of time and experience. Additionally, a sweep may notice other problems that need urgent attention such as cracks in the lining. To have the flue cleaned, prepare to spend from $120 to $320, depending on the height of the chimney and its condition.
When water finds its way inside the mortar of the chimney bricks, the consequences can be disastrous. Mold will start to grow, wood will begin to rot, and the condition of the mortar will continue to deteriorate. That may eventually lead to the chimney collapse. Additionally, a mixture of water and creosote resin is so toxic that it can cause the corrosion of the metal liner and damper. If water reaches the firebox level, it may damage the wooden parts of the home such as floors. The most common location from which water invades the chimney is the place where it joins the roof due to bad or non-existent flashing or sealer. Another entry points are cracks in the mortar. While restoring these parts can be done by homeowners themselves, this task should still be entrusted to professionals. Roofs can be slippery and falls are not rare. If you opt for using a contractor's service, expect to pay from $200 to $350. End result: sealed cracks and leak-proof flashing.
Cracks in the mortar and bricks
Problem and consequences
A common problem with masonry is that the mortar between bricks is affected by heat or cold. When it's warm outside, the mortar expands. When it's cold, the material contracts. If this happens frequently, you will see cracks in the mortar. If those are comparatively narrow, you could seal them yourself. If they are wider, minimum a fourth of an inch, invite professionals to eliminate them. If you don't do anything about those cracks, water may get into them and then on into the walls of the home, causing rot in wooden parts and rust in metal ones. Additionally, embers and sparks may find their way through the cracks and fall on the roof: a fire may break out.
If the number of cracks is not that big, you may pay a contractor around $180. If the situation is worse, you may end up spending around $10,500 on removing the old bricks and constructing an entirely new chimney starting from the firebox and ending with the crown. When the section from the firebox to the roof line is free of cracks and only the part from the roof to the crown needs to be replaced, it will cost you around $2,500. The important price-shaping factor here is how many bricks will be needed. The higher the chimney, the greater number of bricks will be required and the more money professionals will charge for their work.
If you don't have enough money to rebuild the upper portion or the whole of the chimney, there's an alternative method called tuckpointing. It is replacing the old, crumbling and cracked mortar with fresh material. That eliminates the need to completely restructure the chimney. This method will cost you around $650 for replacing mortar between 200 bricks.
Cracks in the crown
The crown of the chimney is the concrete protection layer over the top bricks. It serves several purposes:
- Protects the bricks and mortar from exposure to water
- Prevents birds and animals from getting into the flue
- Doesn't allow the sparks to escape and ignite the roof
When the crown has cracks, the water will get through them to the bricks and mortar. If the weather changes frequently from cold to warm, the freeze-thaw cycle occurs and the bricks develop cracks. That is a certain way to a disaster. Depending on whether only cracks need to be sealed or the entire crown needs to be removed and built anew, expect to pay a contractor $220–$320.
The chimney cap is the first line of defense against relentless weather forces and pests of all kinds and calibers. If you suddenly see water getting all the way down to your firebox on a rainy day, it may mean the cap needs your attention. Small animals and birds can also get through a damaged cap, which may lead to the blockage of the flue. Replacing a metal cap will cost your from $170 to $340.
Information to checkContractor
As with any service, if you have never had your chimney repaired before, you need to find a reputable contractor. Consider at least three bids, ask for references, and read online reviews. A contractor must be properly licensed and insured. For chimney repairers, it's particularly important as they are working on the roof and accidents do occur occasionally.Certification
When it comes to cleaning the chimney, make sure that the sweep holds a certificate by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) or is a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). Thus, you can be certain that the work will be performed in compliance with the accepted quality standards.Permits
In many states and municipalities, reconstructing a chimney requires obtaining a permit from local building authorities. Either contact them yourself or ask your contractor if they can do it for you.
Other frequently asked questions
Can I clean the chimney myself?
It is possible, although not recommended. This is really dirty work that will take a great deal of your time. In addition, you will still need to invest money into the required supplies including a cleaner (around $22.00), a special brush ($20), scrubbing pads ($25.00), and a fireplace brick cleaning agent ($10 for one bottle).
How often should I have my chimney inspected by professionals?
It's recommended to invite a professional inspector to assess the condition of the chimney minimum once a year.
A fireplace is a part of a home that creates a cozy atmosphere and enriches the interior of the room where it is located. If you want it to serve you a long time, you need to maintain it properly and perform regular firebox and chimney repairs, as well as inspections. That includes sweeping the flue, sealing any cracks in the brickwork, and other essential tasks. For basic chimney repairs, expect to pay from $160 to $750 on average.