Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two out of three ain't bad

The cellar has been progressing well. We got to the point last weekend, though, where we realized we'd better hurry up and figure out what's up with the chimney. This is because we'll be covering part of it up with some walls.

We don't know much about masonry work. But, when you start seeing pieces of brick fall out on the floor, it's kind of worrisome and elicits the general logical conclusion that "this is probably bad". We have a center chimney, and our wonderful pellet stove is inserted into the first floor fireplace, so we were doubly concerned:
1. That the chimney would totally collapse or,
2. In order to avoid such collapse, they would have to replace the whole damn chimney, wrecking all our finished walls and messing up the stove. Oh, and it would be expensive.

So, I finally got my act together and called four masons. First, I called one who was highly recommended but who failed to show up or call with an excuse. Grr. So, I got re-energized and called three different ones - all of whom were recommended or reviewed somewhere - and ALL THREE showed up, on time, today to provide estimates.

Perhaps more amazing than all of them showing up was that two of them agreed on a course of action. And the shocking finale - that course of action was the cheapest, easiest, quickest one - and means we don't need a mason at all. They pretty much told us we don't need them. Go DIY!

The one who didn't agree had a lot of good ideas. He did concur with the others that there's no structural problem with out chimney (phew!). But, he did a very thorough inspection and recommended a whole bunch of other items for the chimney - like having a white-glove chimney sweeping done, pimping out our chimney cap, and installing all sorts of liners and fancy cleanout doors. All good ideas, but sort of the Cadillac treatment for the chimney. And virtually all can be done later, if we so choose, without needing to tear into the basement or any other room. So, duly noted and on the Long Term, We Should Maybe Do That list.

The deal is that our brick is spalling, which is quite common and can be a sign of serious problems. Ours isn't - it's just that we need a larger chimney cap. There's no real damage at this point. The cap we'll do in summer - no one is up on anyone's roof this time of year anyways. So, to be sure to stabilize and minimize any future spalling, we can either put on a breathable masonry sealer or something called parging. Either way, we can do it ourselves with about $40 of materials.

And that's it! All that worrying for nothing.
So, here we go again. We'll give it a shot and let you know what happens!


Leslie @ NE Portland Bungalow said...

Wow, what a relief!

Gretchen said...

Wow, good for you! I'm dreading calling masons - in fact, I've been having trouble finding actual masons that do brick chimney building/re-building/repair vs. just installing stainless liners & sweeping. If you are comfortable doing it, would you mind please posting the three that showed up? Thanks! ~100+yr old farmhouse-reno-DIYer Gretchen in Eddington

Unknown said...

Gretchen - just seeing this comment. We found them by calling the local stove shops - they each recommended someone different.

Gretchen said...

Ahh! Great idea - never thought to ask around at the stove shops. I haven't had much luck going out of the phone book. Thanks!