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  1. #1
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    Chimney replace or remove?

    At the risk of being very long-winded, I'll give all details I can think of up front...

    Bought a 1928 house last year, roof was reshingled as we moved in. The roofing contractor ended up skipping town: later in the summer we had a little seepage at the roof-chimney interface and I tried calling to have it looked at but all numbers are disconnected and mail gets returned. That aside, the chimney itself is in bad need of repair - water is clearly penetrating the masonry. Now we have water coming down our walls on all sides of the chimney, but most significantly on the downhill side. We've had several contractors out to look at replacing the chimney roof-up and the bid I would go with is $4200 (covers chimney, copper flashing, lining). No guarantee that this would take care of the problem, though, since it could be the roofer screwed us on subflashing.

    I know that we can get a Trane XV95 installed for ~$3700 and a side-vent water heater for another ~$1k. We could then have the chimney pulled down below the roof and get rid of it altogether. The chimney folks (who are the best in the area) have mentioned that side-vent appliances don't have nearly the lifespan of their passive-vent counterparts and that removing the chimney may reduce our houses market value significantly. Part of me thinks "They are chimney guys, of course that is what they will say." But this guy would get paid something either way, and he seems like a turstworthy, "do-it-right or get out of the way" sort of guy - which I like in a contractor. So part of me thinks he's just giving me the facts.

    Has anyone been through a similar situation? I am reading as much as I can about all of this, but some person-to-person perspectives would be very helpful and much appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    It sounds like from your description that you have a flashing leak and that could be fixed cheaply and effectively pretty well any roofer should be able to re flash (or seal the existing flashing).
    If the masonry (bricks) are absorbing water then this too could be easily fixed by power washing them down and then applying a masonry sealer that is available at all masonry supply places.
    About the only time I've seen bricks in need of replacing is when they start to flake apart.
    As for if the chimney is an asset or not , call a real estate salesperson and ask them, if all your neighbors have one then your place might look silly without one.
    Check to make sure the chimney crown (mortar cap) does not have cracks in it this is one of the biggest reasons for chimney leaks, also make sure you have a chimney cap fitted.

  3. #3
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    Flashing is probably leaking, but the chimney mortar is also dripping into the wallspace and crumbling apart. Two likely problems, both need to be addressed soon, and we are in this house for the long-haul so I am inclined to do it right the first time. Chimney cap is actually fine - the problem is more related to which solution will be most beneficial in the long-run. On one hand, we fix the chimney and move on with our relatively new 80% furnace. On the other hand, we get rid of the chimney and any potential problems it could create while installing a 95% furnace and water heater. In my discussions with heating folks recently, they don't think there is any merit to the idea that the 95% unit will cost more in the long run other than it contains an additional motor and circuitry and, as always, more parts = more opportunity for problems.

    Our neighborhood was built almost entirely before 1935, so pretty much everyone has a chimney of some sort. It is worth noting that ours is just a little stack for the exhaust, not part of a fireplace or some more elaborate chimney masonry.

  4. #4
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    Then if your chimney isn't part of the architectural element of your home, your probably right to remove it, if your having mortar problems that cannot be rectified cost effectively.
    You said :
    "chimney mortar is also dripping into the wall space and crumbling apart"

    Note: if your mortar is "scaling" and falling from the inside of the chimney, does your chimney have a stainless steel flue inserted inside it? Very often older homes have standard brick chimneys, along the way someone ducts a furnace up the chimney doesn't install a correct flue and the moisture sent out the chimney from the furnace causes mortar failure. Not saying this is the cause but worth looking into.
    Nothing worse than spending money you don't need to.

    Don't forget, upgrading to a more energy efficient furnace gets you a tax credit, that may help offset some on the extra cost.

    Every house we remodel, we put in new furnaces and A/C units unless they are less than 5 years old (we donate the old one), simply because it's cheaper to run and should have a lifespan of over 20 years.

    There is most definitely no supporting information that side vent furnaces last any less than passive venting.

  5. #5
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    After several discussions on both sides, what you said is also what we have found. I have a feeling the negative attitudes toward side-venting came from problems in the 90s with first-gen high-efficiency furnaces. Now the questions is simply of cost, and the decision has been quite difficult for us - chose between a necessary repair and an unnecessary upgrade to avoid that repair and any problems later on...

    Option 1: $4300-5300
    Rebuild, reflash, reline: $4300
    Possible roofing repair: ~$1000

    Option 2: $6100
    Replace furnace: $3700 - rebates/credits = $3200
    Replace water heater: $1700
    Remove chimney, patch roof: $1200

  6. #6
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    I cannot work out where your costs on replacing the water heater are $1700, the physical cost of a 50 gallon heater is around $350. For $1.7K you could get a tank less heater and pay for installation.

  7. #7
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    Yep... power vented.

  8. #8
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    A few years back we remodeld an old house and chopped it up into 4 apartments. The original house had one chimney and an addition from the 40's had another.
    To hook up the 2 water heaters (the household furnace was side wall vented) we used the old chimneys but we had to first feed down from the top, B-vent smoke pipe.
    This may be an option then just get a roofer to fix flashing around chimney,,,,reseal the bricks and re-point,with motar or the new stuff you can buy in a tube, the bricks above roof-line.
    Gerry
    Gerry

  9. #9
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    chimney

    I think you will hurt the value of the home by taking out the chimney -- it is a big seller and can be a wonderful thing for you one day -- after you get past all the frustration and the cost. Focus on the flashing and other repairs already noted, bite the bullet where you have to, but don't take out the chimney.

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