Chimney Damage: To Repair or Rebuild?
Rebuilding a chimney is a big expense. If you’ve been told that your chimney needs to be rebuilt, it is smart to get a second or third opinion from a CSIA-certified chimney professional. The best way to figure out whether or not to repair or rebuild your damaged chimney is to consider the safety risks and long-term costs.
After inspecting and appraising your chimney, a CSIA-certified chimney professional will give you either photographic or video evidence of the damage along with a detailed report. (Be wary of any chimney sweeps that show you broken pieces of brick or tile instead of photos or videos. It could be a scam.) The report should layout the extent of the damage, potential risks and costs.
Every circumstance is different but here are two of the most common reasons why chimney professionals recommend a chimney rebuild and what we think.
Cracked, Deteriorated or Missing Flue Liner
Most masonry chimneys are lined with ceramic flue tiles. This flue lining protects your home from the high temperatures and dangerous gases produced by the fire. If it is seriously cracked, deteriorated or missing, the risk of a house fire and carbon monoxide poisoning increases. Though it can pose a serious safety risk, a rebuild may not be necessary to restore a broken flue liner. In many cases, this problem can be solved by installing a metal flue liner instead of rebuilding the entire chimney. If a chimney professional recommends a rebuild to repair the flue liner, you should ask tough questions about their reasoning. It could be a scam or it could be that there are other structural problems that require a rebuild. If they don’t have good answers and solid proof, get another opinion.
Serious Chimney Structural Issues
If the chimney foundation or exterior bricks and mortar are cracked, broken or crumbling, rebuilding the chimney may be the only good option. A chimney can collapse if it has a bad foundation or the masonry has seriously deteriorated. Along with the danger of tons of bricks collapsing, the process can damage other parts of your home. Rebuilding a chimney that isn’t structurally sound can save you money in the long and protect you from harm.
Even if you are planning to sell your home, it is a good idea to rebuild the chimney if it isn’t structurally sound. Rebuilding the chimney can increase your home’s sales value while leaving it in disrepair can dramatically reduce its value and drive away potential buyers.
There are many ways that a chimney can become damaged. These are the two most common reasons homeowners are told to have their chimneys rebuilt. Without good information, it is impossible to make a good decision. That’s why it is essential to hire a trustworthy chimney expert who has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to inspect and appraise the damage. CSIA-certified professionals like us will give you solid evidence so that you can see the damage yourself and feel confident that you are making the right decision.
If you want an unbiased opinion to help you review the inspection reports you receive from chimney experts, you can contact your local building department. They are a wonderful resource that is funded by your tax dollars.