The project required repairs to the wood fireplace and the chimney. The fireplace repairs were minor compared to the chimney. However, there was a significant difference between the appearance of the fireplace before and after repairs. The chimney work included installing a new crown and new flue liners.
Part 1 – Installing custom steel arch plate fireplace door
Before replacing screen and andirons
After installing arch plate fireplace door.
We removed the old fireplace screens and andirons and installed a custom steel arch plate fireplace door. The new hardware gave the fireplace a more modern look.
Part 2 – Floating cast concrete crown installation
Before floating cast crown installation
After floating cast crown installation
The old crown was deteriorating and falling apart. We knew this job required a crown similar to what we installed in a previous repair project in Ellicott City, MD. We rebuilt it with a new floating cast concrete crown. Which is 5″-6″ thick, sits on a stainless steel sheet, reinforced with mesh, has PWR waterproofing powder added to the concrete mix to waterproof it and has an expansion joint around the flue liners. You can learn more about float cast concrete crowns here.
Part 3 Install Chimney Flue Liner
Before chimney liner repair
After chimney liner repair
The flue liners for the fireplaces were cracked and shifted and needed to be relined. The new stainless steel lining systems were installed and we sealed the bottom of the liners with Chamber Tech 2000. The smoke chamber for both fireplaces we built properly and had a smooth transition leading up to the flue liner so all we had to do was seal the bottoms of the liners. We also installed 2 Lock Top II dampers for the fireplaces.
The Finished Chimney and Fireplace Project
This is the completed before and after pictures. The most noticeable difference is the new floating cast concrete crown. This chimney will outlast any other chimney in this neighborhood simply because of how the crown was rebuilt. It will protect the masonry below it for years to come.
Before rebuilding the chimney
After rebuilding the chimney
We were called to do an estimate for chimney repairs in Ellicott City, the home of Mrs. Whelan . Before we got there, she had already received 2 or 3 other estimates from other companies. The estimates she received had differing opinions on what was needed to be done. Needless to say, I’m sure she was expecting to get more confused with what we were going to find and was probably a little skeptical about the whole process.
When we arrived I just simply went on to do my evaluation of the chimney and fireplace as I normally would. Throughout the process as I found issues and defects in her chimney and fireplace I would go over them with her, so she fully understood what the situation was and how we needed to correct them. I quickly discovered that this was going the chimney was in need of more extensive work than an earlier job that we did in Ellicott City.
The first issues we found were in the smoke chamber and the flue liners for the fireplace. The smoke chamber was corbelling and not parged smooth as required by the NFPA 211 and the IRC. The second issue was that the first flue liner was cracked. I explained to her that the smoke chamber needed to be parged smooth with Chamber Tech 2000 and that the flue needed to be relined to correct her issues.
Here is the new stainless steel liner installed and the smoke chamber after it has been parged smooth with Chamber Tech 2000. This will allow for better air flow in the chimney and minimize the amount of creosote buildup in the chimney.
Before floating cast crown installation
After Floating Cast Crown Installation
The top 21 courses of the chimney had bricks that were starting to spall. The hairline cracks were already visible, and it was only a matter of time before the faces of the bricks would start to pop out. A lot of the damage started from the crown and worked its way down the chimney. Once we rebuilt the chimney, we installed a new floating cast concrete crown with a 1.5″ overhang that sits on a stainless steel plate to allow water to run off the drip edge if it ever penetrated the 5″-6″ on concrete. With this crown, the water will never run down inside the chimney from the crown. All Pro Chimney Service understands that the crown can make or break the chimney that why now we only install floating cast concrete crowns on chimneys we rebuild to ensure that it will last for years to come to protect your investment. You can learn more about floating chimney crown installations here.
Mrs. Whelan, also wanted us to look at the B-Vent chimney for her gas boiler and water heater. She had several companies tell her that all she needed to do was replace the top section of B-Vent above the roof and replace the chimney surround (fake metal chimney). Upon my inspection of the situation, I found that the existing B-Vent was disconnected and did not meet the proper clearance requirements needed to combustibles.
The B-Vent at some point got disconnected and as a result had the vent leaning against the top plate framing. It should maintain a 1″ minimum clearance to combustibles per the manufacturer’s specifications. Also in the attic, the chase cavity did not have a fire-stop installed. I also determined that the B-Vent could just go straight up through the roof instead of having an off set in the attic which just meant more materials and more restrictions in the venting. I explained this to Mrs. Whelan and her family, and we determined that the best option was just to have the B-Vent terminate straight up. We patched up the hole for the old vent location and installed new flashing for the new B-Vent.
*The roof will be getting replaced next.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the initial visit, I noticed this gap on the hearth which is where the embers got through to char the plywood below it.
Rebuild the brick chimney in progress: We cut out the plywood and poured concrete to fill the cavity.
Rebuilding the brick chimney in progress: This is the new hearth (firebox floor) being built for the wood burning fireplace.
Rebuild in progress: Here we have the chimney rebuild in progress, the firebox is complete, and the damper is installed.
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.
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.
Here is the pic that was taken after rebuilding the brick chimney was completed from the ground up.
We were called out to rebuild the chimney chase in this home in Bowie Maryland because the chase blew over during a storm. Luckily we did not need to install a new fireplace. Our work was focused on the chimney (venting). This job is an example of where repairing the chimney required the chimney to be rebuilt. This particular chimney has been discontinued making it harder to get parts. Luckily one of our distributors had some left in stock. As a result, we were able to save the homeowner money.
Here, we are prepping our work area and setting up the scaffolding to start the chimney rebuild.
This is the reason why the chimney chase blew over. The builders barely used any nails to fasten the chase to the house. This vertical 2×4 which secures the chase to the house only had three nails securing it to the house.
This is the original chimney that was left, we removed it and installed the new chimney because this one was damaged.
The lower portion of the chase was insulated, but the insulation was not sealed off. The insulation should be sealed off so that it won’t fall onto the fireplace or chimney. Sealing it off also prevents drafts from coming into the house through the chase. Homes that have issues with a drafty prefabricated fireplace most likely lack insulation, and the insulation is not sealed.
We installed Thermo-Ply to close up the insulation in the chase and installed the new chimney sections. Afterward, we cleaned up the debris and loose insulation at the bottom of the chase before installing the fire-stop.
As we built the chase up we used framing nails and Ledger Lock to secure the vertical 2×4’s of the chase to the framing members of the house.
Here we have the 2nd fire-stop which is at the 2nd-floor ceiling height.
Here, we have the chase fully framed sheathed with 7/16 OSB.
After the sheathing was installed, we wrapped the chimney chase with Tyvek home wrap and taped the seams. This will also keep the chimney/fireplace from being drafty.
Here is the chimney chase after the new aluminum siding was installed.
Here is the chimney chase above the roof with a new stainless steel chase cover and chimney cap.
This home needed our Columbia, MD chimney repair services cyears before we came out to look at it. Fortunately, the fireplace itself did not need any wood burning fireplace repair. However, the chimney was in bad shape. The bricks were spalling. Spalling, is when the faces of the bricks pop out. This is caused by water soaking into the brick and then freezing. As the water freezes, it expands and pops the brick faces out. In this case, someone tried to fix the chimney by parging over the spalled bricks. That is not the correct way to fix it this problem. As you can see the parging is falling off and cracking and it also just looks horrible! This is another example where we were called in to fix a problem that was partially caused by the poor workmanship of other companies. It reminds me of a previous job that involved a chimney leak. Fortunately, we were able to rebuild this chimney and even match the bricks.
Before the Chimney Rebuild
This problem more than likely started from the crown failing and then worked its way down from there. Also, notice that the top course of brick steps back in. A lot of chimneys are built like this as a decorative way to terminate the chimney but I’m not a fan of this because it leaves a place for water to sit and if water is sitting anywhere on the chimney you can believe that it will eventually damage it. I prefer to flare the brick out then laying the crown over it so the water runs off the top down with nowhere to sit. This project reminds me of another chimney repair job that we did in Ellicott City, MD.
We took the chimney down to the roofline, which is where the last of the damaged bricks were. We also relined the fireplace flue with a stainless steel liner because the flue liners were cracked further down below the area we rebuilt.
After the Chimney Rebuild
This is the completed chimney rebuild. We installed new counter flashing, flared out the top 3 courses, rebuilt the concrete crown, waterproofed the chimney, relined the fireplace and installed and Lock Top II damper.
Completed chimney rebuild
We were able to find a pretty good match on the bricks. Which allows the rebuilt portion not to stand out like a sore thumb.
Street view of the completed chimney rebuild!