Having been in business since 1981, I cannot begin to tell you how many customers calling for an ‘outer estimate,’ a visual inspection and written list of recommendations for chimneys which are deteriorating, spalling, falling, or have been damaged by some natural cause.
Often times, an estimator will give you estimates of varying amounts that correlate with different types of repairs and fixes. Although this process can be confusing at times, it is our policy to walk customers through the estimation and repair process.
When tackling moderately severe chimney damage (many brick are spalling, cracking, or falling out) it is frequently necessary to rebuild the outer “shell” of the chimney. In doing this, a mason takes off the exterior brick of the chimney down to a few courses (rows) of brick below the end of the existing damage and replaces those with new brick, new mortar, and a coat of water repellent.
This type of repair, the partial or (in very bad instances of spalling or cracking) total rebuilds, is most often the most expensive repair possible. A less expensive repair is an option available for budget repairs and small repairs. In situations where the damage is generally not widespread and minimal where it can be found, a cut and plug method can be used.
This method is the cutting out of damaged brick and replacing them with new bricks using new mortar. This type of repair usually carries a short or no warranty at all and is far less durable than a more extensive rebuild option. As with the rebuild repair, water repellent is applied to the brick once the repair has been completed and given ample time to cure.
A water repellent (we like ChimneySaver Water Based Water Repellent) is a necessary step after the completion of any masonry repair. Its cost is a small price to pay due to its immense ability to deflect water from eroding away your chimney’s lifetime. A good water repellent will not merely form a film over your brick (which winds up trapping water vapors and promoting the likelihood of spalling) but actually form a semi-permeable membrane around the surface of the brick that allows vapors to move freely but prevents the water droplets from entering. This step is essential to upholding the integrity of your chimney repair.