chimney repair or removal

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rpinero

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Hello,

We have a old chimeny built in 1980s. The exterior base seems to be retaining water throughout the year. Freezing in the winter and cracking in warmer weather. I have attached pictures.

We are wondering if it would be cheaper and easier to just demolish it all and just repair the walls? Or to repair the foundation which is crumbling away.

The structure seems to be mainly cinder blocks. It is slowly crumbling away and we are worried it may all come down. We aren't sure how structurally sound this chimeny was built so we would appreciate any advice. Thank you in advance.

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bud16415

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There are experts on chimneys you could get someone in to look at it, but my guess is they used a soft blocks when building it and it will be a very expensive repair. If it was built in the 80’s it is not historically important to the house and if you have no use for it take it down.

You said it was cinder block and that they are falling apart. Or is it just the stucco as Neal suggests? The stucco could have been added to try and save it. What is on the inside? Is there a fireplace?
 

rpinero

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The chimeny is functional. The fireplace is only on the second floor.
 

rpinero

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Is this a functional chimney.?

There are experts on chimneys you could get someone in to look at it, but my guess is they used a soft blocks when building it and it will be a very expensive repair. If it was built in the 80’s it is not historically important to the house and if you have no use for it take it down.

You said it was cinder block and that they are falling apart. Or is it just the stucco as Neal suggests? The stucco could have been added to try and save it. What is on the inside? Is there a fireplace?

The cinder blocks are falling apart at the base. Mostly the outer parts. They are brittle to the touch the more exposed parts.
 

bud16415

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When I hear cinder blocks I think back to my youth and my dad building the garage and using cinder block for the lintels above the doors and windows and the rest of the garage was concrete block. I’m pretty sure if your chimney was built in the 80’s it was concrete block construction. Today depending where in the country you live the two names are interchangeable and mean concreate blocks. What you are describing though sounds much more like the original cinder blocks.

Just making sure of the material first off?

Doing nothing is not an option as it will get worse and you will have a problem at the worst possible time the middle of the winter. DIY is going to be a tough job also depending on your skill levels. Repair or remove is going to be based on how bad the problem is and how bad you want to leave it.

Without some close up photos and a look under the stucco it is very hard to offer help. I would be at least ripping that stucco off for starters.
 

rpinero

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Without some close up photos and a look under the stucco it is very hard to offer help. I would be at least ripping that stucco off for starters.

I have attached some close up photos. I think we will start trying to remove the stucco first and see how far up the crumbling goes. Thanks for all the advice.
 

nealtw

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Water and a freeze thaw cycle.
Even with wood burning fire place you could have a wood frame with steel liner.

Of coarse that would be option 2 but something to think about.
 

Sparky617

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That thing is a mess and probably needs rebuilt from the ground up or removed completely. If it were my house, I would look to replace the woodburning fireplace with a direct vent gas fireplace if I wanted the fireplace. If I didn't have natural gas I'd go propane. Is the existing fireplace a manufactured one or a site built masonry fireplace? If a masonry one, it is built on a very shaky foundation.
 

rpinero

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I am not sure what type of fireplace it is actually. We don't ever use it and are ok living without it at this stage. The fireplace brick face is almost detached from the wall and we thought about removing it and covering it ip properly with sheetrock to just make it a blank wall. But the exterior is where we are debating how to handle mostly for safety.
 

bud16415

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To me you need to get it down safely before it falls off taking some of the house with it.

Start at the top and take it down one block at a time. I just took an old chimney down about 10’ and it only took 15 minutes with a 5 pound sledge hammer.

Once you get it down you can assess what is behind it and what repairs are needed to repair where it was.
 

rpinero

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I can definitely demolish myself. I just wasn't sure what to expect under it all if I did. Any recommendations on how to go about starting from the top? I can think of renting a sizzor lift to work that high by myself maybe. I can probably demolish with a sledge hammer on a ladder but repairs I may need something else.
 

Sparky617

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My concern with a scissor lift is it would be in the zone where you want to drop the rubble as you begin tearing it down from the top one block at a time. You won't have that problem with scaffolding.

You basically take a 5lb hand sledge and knock out a block. Drop it to the ground and move on to the next one. Once you get the thing out of the way you need to assess any water damage to the structure and then following basic carpentry fill in the hole you created, replacing any rot. Once you get the entire thing out of the way, post more pictures if you have questions. I wonder who built that thing, for a fireplace/chimney to show that much damage in 30 some odd years indicates it was built wrong.
 

rpinero

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Thank you everyone. I feel alot more confident about tackling this now. Soon as I get to it I will post some progress pictures.
 

nealtw

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The ledge at the top under the soffit didn't do anything but collect water. It should have had a taper to the smaller section. A lot of problems would have been avoided.

What would you do to protect the roof while he is up there.
We have jumped thru many hoops only to find framing repairs needed anyway.
So it wouldn't make much difference.

I like the scaffolding because you can run a couple timbers over to the roof and walk around the chimney.

Leave all flashing in place for now has when you tarp the job the interior is still sorta protected.
 

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