Danger discovered while rebuilding brick chimney

chimney rebuild in Silver Spring, MD
 
We were contacted by the customer because they were concerned about the gap between the house and the chimney on their home in Silver Spring, MD. When I went out for the initial site visit, I discovered the chimney was not constructed up to code had some major issues and concluded that this was not going to be a standard brick chimney repair.  Rebuilding the brick chimney was the best option.  As the job progressed we discovered several dangerous issues that threatened the home.  

chinney built over electrical service

unsafe chimney installation

The first issue is that the chimney was built directly over the electrical service for the house. Yes, that’s right, some “genius”  thought that having the power line go through the chimney was safe! Luckily the customer did not use the fireplace much over the past years.  

There is nothing more important than safety.  Before starting repairing the brick chimney, we had to have the power cut off, and new electrical service was routed safely around the chimney. 

chimney mortar  install over siding
 
The second issue is that the chimney was built over the siding and not secured to the house with wall ties. The absence of wall ties is part or the reason why the stack pulled away from the house. Improperly built shoulders are a frequent cause of chimney leaks.

improper flue liner installation
 
The third issue is that flue liner was resting against homes framing members as it penetrated the roof. There should be 4″ of solid masonry with 1″ air space between the two.  

3 sided chimney build
 
The fourth issue is that the chimney was built with only three sides. This is the other reason why the chimney pulled away from the house. There’s supposed to be a row of bricks between the flue liner and the house, and that’s where the wall ties would secure the chimney to the house. When we demolished the chimney, we found that the flue liner was resting on the siding and power line.

silver spring, md chimney demolition
 
It took us a couple of days to demolish the chimney down to the footer. We inspected the footer and found it to be in good condition.

plywood underneath firebricks in chimney
 
The fifth issue we found was that there was plywood directly underneath the firebricks which were actually charred. This may not cause a chimney leak.  However, it certainly could cause a house fire. 

gap in fireplace hearth
 
During the initial visit, I noticed this gap on the hearth which is where the embers got through to char the plywood below it.

chimney rebuild in progress
 
Rebuild the brick chimney in progress: We cut out the plywood and poured concrete to fill the cavity.
 

rebuilding brick chimney in progress
Rebuilding the brick chimney in progress: This is the new hearth (firebox floor) being built for the wood burning fireplace.
 rebuilding chimney firebox installation
Rebuild in progress: Here we have the chimney rebuild in progress, the firebox is complete, and the damper is installed.

cut siding during rebuilding chimney
 
Rebuild in progress: We cut out the siding built the chimney back up with a row of brick between the flue liner and the house.

rebuilt chimney penetrating roof
 
Rebuild in progress: Here we have the chimney penetrating the roof.


 
Rebuild complete: We installed a new stainless steel cap, built a new concrete crown and installed new counter flashing. We were careful to use the proper flashing technique to prevent leaking chimney flashing. 
rebuilding brick chimney in silver spring, md
 
Here is the pic that was taken after rebuilding the brick chimney was completed from the ground up. 

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