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!
Before Chimney Repair and Rebuilding
This home in Ellicott City, MD needed chimney repair due to problems with their concrete chimney crown. This chimney is the perfect example of why having a solid crown and maintaining it is so important on the stack. The bricks on this chimney were good solid bricks. The crown failure being left alone without being repaired or rebuilt for years resulted in the deterioration of the mortar joints. Chimney crown failure is a common cause of chimney leaks. In this case, the crown failure led to a more extensive chimney repair. We rebuilt the chimney and relined the chimney for their wood burning fireplace.
During Chimney Repairs and Rebuilding
The mortar was so badly deteriorated that we were able to take the chimney apart by hand and clean off the bricks to reuse them. The only good thing that came from this is that we were able to reuse the bricks and didn’t have to worry about matching them.
We also ground out the remaining mortar joints below the rebuild and tuck pointed it because they had started to deteriorate on the surface. This also made the completed job look better because the mortar matches throughout the chimney.
We also relined the fireplace on the main floor because the flue liners were cracked and shifted further down below the area we rebuilt. We removed the existing flue liners to make room for the stainless steel liner we installed.
Finished Chimney Repair and Rebuild
This is the completed chimney rebuild. We resealed the flashing, flared out the top 4 courses, rebuild the concrete crown, installed a multi-flue cap, relined the fireplace, and waterproofed the chimney.
Because we were able to reuse the bricks and tuck pointed the remaining courses below the rebuild, we were able to make it look like the original chimney.
Completed chimney rebuild and tuck pointing!
Fireplace Liner and Smoke Chamber RepairsThis is in the smoke chamber of the fireplace. We parged the smoke chamber to correct the corbelling bricks and seal the bottom of the liner.
We recently were contacted by a customer in Silver Spring, MD who had a chimney that was leaking through the flashing. This is a serious problem. When water leaks into your home from your chimney, this can cause all kinds of problems. From water damage that seeps into your walls to shorting out appliances, chimney leaks are a problem for many homeowners. Flashing is one of the most common sources of chimney leaks. There are many reasons that chimney flashing leaks, and it’s important to get this problem by a chimney repair company like ours right away before more significant damage occurs in your home.
The Wrong Flashing Techniques Are Used
Incorrect flashing installation is a big culprit of roof leaks. We recently completed a chimney repair project in Silver Spring, MD that was caused by this problem. Step flashing is necessary where the roof meets the wall, and beneath the flashing, an underlayment is needed that goes partially up the wall and along the roof. This creates a solid barrier so that water can’t get through. The step flashing needs to be nailed onto the roof, and not against the wall. The counter-flashing has to be attached to the wall to account for wall expansion and contraction during weather extremes. Flashing that isn’t installed correctly isn’t going to work.
Old Flashing Needs to be Replaced
Over time, roof shingles and flashing can crack and break, requiring that the flashing gets replaced. This is a common problem that we see when repairing chimneys in Washington DC. While you may notice a small leak at first, flashing that is deteriorating will eventually lead to bigger leaks if it is left alone. Flashing gets ruined over time because of harsh weather conditions, and the expanding and contracting required during the weather extremes. While it is often made of galvanized steel, even steel can’t withstand harsh weather conditions forever.
The Seal Between the Flashing and Chimney is Cracked
Sealants are used to block water from entering your home between the flashing and the chimney. Sealants get dry and brittle over time, and they are prone to cracking. When a sealant is damaged, water will enter the home through the damaged sealant. If you don’t know how to replace the sealant on your chimney flashing, it’s time to call in a professional to repair the problem.
Water Damming at the Chimney
Sometimes shingles are not placed on the roof correctly, and this can cause water to dam up behind the chimney and seep into the roof of the home in this area. Even when the flashing is installed properly and not damaged, if water is not flowing off of the roof properly, water can dam up and cause problems with leakage. We recently repaired this type of problem in a home in Ellicott City, MD.
When you have leaks in your ceiling that you can’t identify, it’s important to call in a professional to handle the situation. If you are unable to go on your roof to check for leaks, you need to hire someone to do this for you. When you ignore water leaks,
On May 18th, 2016 I went to Mrs. Irshad’s home in Silver Spring, MD to give her an estimate to fix a brick chimney that was leaking. Her wood burning fireplace was working fine. However, the brick chimney was leaking. Before my visit, she had two other companies attempt to repair the chimney who were unsuccessful. As she tried to contact the other companies to tell them that the chimney was still leaking, they brushed her off and never came back to address her issues. As a result, she had paid for repairs and her chimney still leaks every time it rains. When I arrived that day, she was very skeptical and didn’t think I would be able to help her, and I don’t blame her for feeling that since two other companies burned her before my visit. This job reminded me of a chimney repair job that we did in Potomac, MD earlier this year.
After introducing myself I asked where the leak was coming in, and she showed me that the water would leak in her garage from the ceiling. Then I asked what the previous companies had done to try to fix the problem and let me just say that some people have no business doing this type of work. I feel bad for Mrs. Irshad because she spent her money with these companies to fix a problem and once they got paid to do the repairs which weren’t even proper fixes they never came back to help her address the leak.
The first thing I did to evaluate the leak was pulling out my hose and perform a water test on the flashing. I was already pretty sure that the flashing was the issue based on where the leak was coming from. Leaking flashing is one of the common causes of chimney leaks. Based on the water test I was able to confirm that the leak was coming from the flashing. At that point I was 100% confident that the job required chimney flashing repair. This also reassured Mrs. Irshad that the flashing was indeed the source of the problem and made her feel a lot more comfortable about the repairs I recommended. Here are some pictures of the job from start to finish.
This is during the site visit where I water tested the flashing and found out it was the source of the leak.
The other companies tried to fix the problem by applying silicone over the old seals on the counter flashing.
They also decided to put painters tape on the roof and siding and tar over it. This is just a horrible attempt at fixing the problem. It shows that this person had no idea what he was doing. The issue was actually where the arrow is, for some reason it was missing flashing in that area.
Once I removed the tar and blue tape, I found that the inside corner was missing flashing. The customer told me that when they applied the tar, it slowed the leak down a little bit which makes sense since it was missing flashing.
We removed the shingles and both the counter and base flashing. We then installed tar paper and new base flashing and shingles.
Here we have the base flashing and shingles installed.
This is the finished product we installed the counter flashing into the mortar joints and then sealed it. We’ve had some heavy rains since the repairs were made and Mrs. Irshad has had no leaks since!
We were contacted by Mr. & Mrs. Vincent because they wanted to install a gas fireplace insert into the existing fireplace of their home. The existing fireplace is original to the house which dates back to 1900-1920’s and is no longer functional as a wood burning fireplace. After considering how easy it is to maintain a gas fireplace and these additional benefits of gas, they decided not to install another wood burning fireplace. One of the requests made by the homeowners was to use the existing mantel with the new fireplace, which is why we ended up with the Enviro Q1 gas fireplace insert. We had recently installed the same unit in a home in Silver Spring, MD. This unit can be used as a gas fireplace or an insert…, this was perfect for this situation.
Let’s take a look at how the fireplace was installed.
Before we started the fireplace installation
The first thing we did was clear the work area, set our drop cloths, then removed the mantel and set it aside.
This is what was underneath the Durock and marble.
We took out the bricks to make room for the new hearth support.
We installed the new hearth support by securing it to the existing floor joists.
We then installed 1/2″ sheathing and had the gas line and electric ran on the back left of the fireplace.
On top of the sheathing, we installed two pieces of 1/2″ Micore and Hardibacker to meet the required 2.27 minimum R value for the hearth. This is the first layer of Micore.
This is the 2nd layer of Micore.
This is the layer of Hardibacker.
This is the new slate hearth on top. The floor on the house was level left to right, but it was slightly off level front to back (not bad for a house that’s nearly 100 years old!)
Here we have cut back the drywall and are dry fitting the slate surround to go around the fireplace.
Slate surround installed and ready for the mantel to go back on!
Finished Fireplace Installation
Here is the finished product! We reinstalled the mantel and installed trim around the slate hearth. *The flame is blue because this picture was taken within the first few seconds that the fireplace was turned on, it turns orange after a few minutes.
You can see images of other fireplace installation and chimney repair projects here.
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