How Much Does Chimney Repair Cost?
The national average chimney repair cost is $455. This falls within the typical range of $160 to $750, with the final cost depending on a variety of factors including chimney type and repair method.
- Typical Range: $160 to $750
- National Average: $455
A chimney is a vertical channel, often made of stainless steel, concrete, clay, or brick, that allows smoke and combustion gases from an interior fireplace or furnace to safely escape through the roof of a home. Not all homes have a traditional brick chimney, and not all fireplaces need a chimney, but for those homes with a chimney, repair is sometimes inevitable.
According to HomeAdvisor, homeowners can expect to pay between $160 and $750 for chimney repair, with the national average chimney repair cost falling in the middle at $455. There are several factors that influence the final price of a chimney repair, including repair type, chimney type, permits, and emergency fees.
This guide will cover the top considerations when homeowners are estimating chimney repair cost, along with common signs that a chimney repair may be required and tips for saving money when the repair day comes.
Factors in Calculating Chimney Repair Cost
Chimney repair cost falls within a typical range of $160 to $750. Factors like repair type, chimney type, repair method, and labor all play a role in the final cost of chimney repair.Here are the top price determinants homeowners will want to keep in mind when estimating chimney repair cost.
While chimneys may seem simple in nature, the truth is that chimneys are complex structures with many different parts, many of which can fail over time. That’s why a chimney that looks normal to a homeowner can actually present several issues when inspected by a professional. Every repair job is unique, and there’s a wide range of chimney repairs that may need to be carried out to get a chimney back in shape. Of course, they all come with different costs based on their complexity.
Repairing the chimney cap has the lowest cost, between $100 and $250. Repairing flashing is also fairly affordable, costing between $200 and $300. Repairing mortar on a masonry chimney is a common job, with a chimney crack repair cost averaging $150 to $500. Repairing the siding of a chimney costs between $500 and $600.
More expensive repair types include work on the smoke chamber, which costs between $500 and $2,000. Repairing a chimney stack is also a potentially expensive endeavor, costing between $500 and $3,500. The foundation is yet another pricey repair, with a cost range of $1,500 to $3,500.
Chimneys are made from a variety of materials. Chimney material type has a significant influence on the average cost of chimney repair.
For example, metal is a popular chimney material that offers strength and durability and stands up well to the elements. But a metal chimney can be dented or damaged during a storm, and issues with the flue or smoke chamber are common. Repairing a metal chimney costs between $250 and $1,200.
A prefab chimney has an identical price range of $250 to $1,200. The difference is that these types of chimneys are made in a factory and assembled on-site, so they offer fewer customization options than standard metal chimneys. Like metal chimneys, prefab chimneys suffer from issues related to their stainless or galvanized steel components, but they also offer durability and less overall maintenance.
Masonry chimneys have the most expensive repair cost range. These chimneys have a classic aesthetic and are what most homeowners associate with a fireplace. While masonry chimneys offer value and a classic look to homes, they also wear out over time from weathering and erosion. From time to time, masonry chimneys may need remortaring or even rebuilding to keep them in safe working order, especially since they usually burn wood, which can create more carbon dioxide than other sources. Homeowners can expect to pay between $300 and $1,500 for a traditional firewood chimney repair.
Stucco is another common chimney material, but it can be costly to repair with an average stucco chimney repair cost range between $1,000 and $4,000. A stucco chimney offers multiple benefits, like sustainability and great color retention, which may make the cost worthwhile for homeowners.
Different chimney issues have different repair methods and solutions. A professional may offer several repair options depending on the state of the chimney.
Remortaring a chimney is a common crack repair method and costs between $150 and $500. Sealing is another repair method, with an identical price range of $150 to $500. Repointing and tuckpointing are repair processes that focus on the chimney’s mortar, either to repair it or to make it match the bricks; they share a cost range of $500 to $2,500. Parging a chimney (adding a coating of mortar to the smoke chamber to create a smooth surface) costs between $1,000 to $2,000. The most expensive types of repair methods include complete restoration, which costs between $250 and $4,000, and and rebuilding, which costs between $500 and $4,000.
Chimney repair is dangerous and will most likely need to be handled by a professional. This can equate to higher labor costs, especially for repair jobs on chimneys that are difficult to access. Professionals also risk being exposed to dangerous chemicals, and labor costs reflect this risk.
The labor costs for chimney repair range from $50 to $150 per hour. Some chimney repairs can be fairly quick, so homeowners should also expect a base fee of $50 to $100. If the repair is more substantial and requires scaffolding, the labor cost can increase an additional $50 to $200.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Not every chimney repair estimate will include the following costs and considerations; knowing that these scenarios are possible can help a homeowner avoid surprise fees.
Repair vs. Replacement
Choosing between repair and replacement affects the final cost of a chimney repair cost. Budget alone shouldn’t make this type of decision, though; homeowners will want to take safety into consideration, as not all chimney issues can be repaired. Though it’s more expensive, a chimney rebuild might be the best option for the structural integrity of the home and safety of the residents.
While the average chimney repair cost is between $160 to $750, the average chimney rebuild cost is around $10,000. That is a significant difference in pricing, but there are scenarios where replacing a chimney can cost less than making repairs in the long run.
The age of the chimney is also a factor to consider. Chimney can last 50 to 100 years or more, but a chimney with its best years behind it will likely need to be replaced. Replacement costs are unlikely to go down over time, so replacing an old chimney sooner than later can offer savings against future potential costs.
Chimney cleaning is an annual part of a chimney’s routine maintenance schedule and includes a quick survey of the area and preparations like putting down a drop cloth or plastic sheet to protect indoor furnishings.
Heavy metal brushes are used to clean the inside of the chimney, starting from the flue. The cleaning process moves up the chimney until every part of the interior surface has been scraped. Debris will fall into the fireplace, where it will be swept up and vacuumed away.
If an issue is spotted during the cleaning process, the best chimney cleaning services will inform the homeowner so they can take the required action. A chimney cleaning costs between $80 and $200, with any potential repairs or issues costing more. If a chimney has been neglected for some time, a chimney cleaning cost can be as much as $800.
Like chimney cleanings, chimney inspections are recommended once a year. In most cases, a cleaning and an inspection can be done at the same time; these are basic in nature and labeled as level 1 inspections. When the need for repairs or updates becomes obvious, an inspection, known as a level 2 inspection, is required. These are a bit more in-depth and cost between $100 and $500. When there is major structural damage to the chimney, due either to a natural disaster or neglect, a level 3 inspection is required. This meticulous inspection can cost between $1,000 and $5,000.
Both chimney cleaning and chimney inspection are part of regular maintenance. Other parts of chimney maintenance include repairing any cracks and leaks, keeping an eye on mortgage joints and bricks, making sure the chimney cap is present and not damaged, and checking the fireplace damper functions on a regular basis.
Most maintenance involves visual inspections by the homeowner, which cost just a few moments of time. Regular cleanings and inspections by professionals can cost between $80 and $500 a year, depending on how long it’s been since the chimney was last inspected or cleaned.
Emergency Repair Fees
Sometimes chimney repair can be urgent. This is common when a severe storm has sent a tree branch directly into a chimney or when smoke is pouring into a home after a homeowner has lit a fire in the fireplace. Emergency scenarios include chimneys with cracks in the flue that could allow poisonous gases to come into the home and chimneys that are severely leaning and are at risk of crumbling.
For same-day chimney repairs, professionals will typically charge an emergency repair fee. This is to encourage clients to schedule repairs during normal business hours. An emergency suggests that the inspection and repair can’t wait, so an additional cost reflects the after-hours service call. Homeowners can expect to pay an additional $100 and $300 for emergency repair fees for chimneys.
Not all types of home improvement work require a permit, including a basic chimney cleaning and annual inspections. But when a chimney repair requires gaining access through masonry, demolition, removal of components, or extensive masonry repairs, a permit is usually required.
Local municipalities set the rate for permits. Some are very affordable, while others can be quite expensive. Besides location, the type of repair being done can also influence the cost of a permit. For general construction permits, homeowners can expect to pay between $150 and $2,000. A chimney repair is likely to be on the lower end of this price range, but homeowners will want to keep the potential cost of a permit in mind when budgeting for their chimney repair job. It also helps to work with a chimney repair company that builds the cost of permits into its pricing and takes on the responsibility of filing for and securing any required permits.
Types of Chimney Repair
Every chimney repair job is unique. Some are fairly simple and don’t rack up excessive labor charges, while others are extensive and can quickly max out a repair budget. Homeowners can use the following price guide broken down by types of chimney repair to help estimate their potential costs.
A chimney cap sits at the top of a chimney, right above the chimney crown. It helps prevent rain and wildlife from entering the chimney. A chimney can technically function without a chimney cap, but its benefits more than outweigh the cost to purchase one. When the chimney cap begins to rust or crack, a repair is necessary to prevent water from entering the home. Chimney caps are typically replaced rather than repaired, with a typical cost range of $150 to $200.
Mortar holds bricks together in a chimney or any other brick structure. It’s strong but does wear out over time, mainly due to expansion and contraction from temperature fluctuation. Cracks can begin to form, allowing smoke, carbon monoxide, and even stray embers to get between the walls or onto the roof and create a fire hazard.
Cracks are best treated when they first appear, before they get deeper or longer. Mortar repair can cost as little as $175, but if cracking is ignored and allowed to spread for too long, chimney mortar repair costs can reach as high as $3,000.
Chimney flashing is a sheet of metal installed around a chimney to create a waterproof seal between it and the roof. While chimney flashing typically has a long lifespan, it does wear out over time. If there are gaps in the caulk around the flashing, rust or water stains on the interior walls or ceiling near the chimney, sounds or signs of dripping water, or discolored bricks on the chimney, it may be time to replace the flashing.
A flashing roof chimney repair typically costs between $200 and $500. But for larger chimneys or ones made from stone or brick, a more expensive chimney flashing repair is required and can cost up to $2,000.
Wood Rot Repair
Wood rot tends to be a result of a leaking chimney. As water enters through cracks, it begins to soften and damage any surrounding wooden structures. Mold can also be an issue along with wood rot. There are a couple ways to address a leaking chimney and stop wood rot from progressing. The average leaking chimney repair cost depends on the solution method.
Chimney sealing involves filling in cracks with mortar, which can cost anywhere from $175 to $3,000 depending on severity. Flashing can also be installed, which costs between $200 and $350.
The cost of chimney wood rot repair depends on how extensive the damage is. Repairs to confined areas of wood rot cost between $100 and $300. A larger portion of wood rot is likely to cost between $2,500 and $4,000 to repair.
A flue is a conduit, typically constructed from tile, installed inside a chimney. It’s intended to contain the combustion products and then direct them outside. It also protects the chimney walls from heat and corrosion. Cracks within a flue liner are dangerous. Lighting a fireplace is never recommended if the flue is damaged, since there is a risk for a serious fire. A homeowner will never want to ignore signs of a damaged flue, which include the appearance of thin slices of tile in the fireplace, also called shaling. The average chimney flue repair cost is between $2,500 and $5,000, if the entire flue is being retiled. Repairing a single tile shouldn’t cost more than $200; repairing a flue by the square foot costs between $65 and $100.
Just like a home, chimneys can have siding. Chimney surrounding is usually made of wood but can also be made from other materials like aluminum. Heavy storms can damage chimney siding, while general wear and tear is expected over the years as well. Chimney siding can be patched or readjusted, but it’s a repair that shouldn’t be put off for too long. For the homeowner budgeting for chimney siding repair, costs tend to fall between $500 and $600.
Smoke Chamber Repair
The smoke chamber is positioned above the fireplace. It includes an upside-down funnel shape to help move soot, creosote, and dangerous gases away from a living space and through the chimney flue to the outside. Over time, cracks and holes can develop throughout the chamber. It may also need to be parged, or have a fresh coat of mortar applied, so that it has a smoother surface. The average cost of smoke chamber repairs is $500 to $2,000, depending on the extent of the damage.
The chimney stack projects above a roof and is what people typically picture when a chimney is mentioned. The stack is exposed to the elements and up against a lot of wear and tear over the years. Minor damage isn’t terribly expensive to repair, but, as damage levels increase, so does the risk and therefore the cost. Damaged stacks can lead to dangerous smoke blowback or be at risk of crumbling and falling. Chimney stack repair can be as affordable as $500 but also as expensive as $3,500. If the homeowner acts quickly when they notice chimney stack damage, such as crumbling mortar or loose bricks, they can help keep repair costs as low as possible.
Chimney crowns are the slab of concrete at the top of a chimney and are designed to protect the brick and mortar, keep rain from coming down the flue, and keep animals from entering the chimney. A chimney crown also prevents sparks from flying out of the chimney and onto the home’s roof, making it a very important safety feature. Chimney crown repair costs between $150 and $300.
Once cracks start to form in a crown, it can quickly begin to break down. Eventually, it will deteriorate past the point of repair and need to be replaced. This can be expensive, with a replacement cost range of $220 to $2,000. That’s why it’s always best to address a chimney crown issue as soon as possible.
A chimney’s foundation is the structure’s base. If the foundation breaks or becomes damaged, the chimney can start to lean. This can lead to a multitude of issues, all which need prompt attention. The price range for fixing a faulty chimney foundation is between $1,500 and $3,500, making it a more expensive (but completely necessary) chimney repair.
The cost of brick replacement depends on how many are being replaced and how easy they are to access. Replacing a couple of bricks is an affordable job, but multiple bricks in hard-to-reach areas can eat up a repair budget quite quickly. On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $100 and $1,000 for chimney brick replacement.
A chimney liner, which lines the inside of a chimney and directs fumes up and out of the flue, is sometimes legally required for a wood-burning stove or gas fireplace, depending on local building codes. In some cases, a chimney liner may be necessary if the flue inside the chimney is no longer safe to use. This is common in older properties.
Liners that are structurally sound can be resurfaced as long as any existing flue tiles aren’t broken. Relining or replacing a chimney liner costs between $625 and $7,000, depending on how large the liner is and whether the old one needs to be removed.
A cricket helps divert water around the chimney to prevent leaking. It also stops debris, snow, and ice from building up around the chimney, so it’s a crucial component. It’s possible to repair a chimney cricket, with costs between $700 and $1,300. While a repair can sometimes be an affordable option, replacing the cricket may sometimes be the more money-savvy choice. A new chimney cricket costs between $200 and $1,000 to install.
Do I Need Chimney Repair?
A chimney is just like any other part of a home: It requires routine maintenance and will show signs of wear over time. It’s advisable for homeowners to watch for the following signs and symptoms that suggest chimney repair is needed.
Water leaks are a common sign of a chimney in need of repair. In fact, leaking water is one of the biggest red flags in chimney performance. Rain entering the house through the chimney can lead to several dangers. To start, moisture can lead to mold, which can cause allergic symptoms like watery eyes and a runny nose. Repeated exposure to mold can increase the intensity of a homeowner’s allergic attack over time.
In addition, moisture and mold can start to weaken a home’s structural integrity. A chimney with a properly functioning cap and flue liner should never leak. Signs of moisture generally suggest a chimney inspection is needed to diagnose the potential problem, as even heavy rains and seasonal melts should not introduce water to a home through the chimney.
Chimney cracks are never normal and should always be inspected by a professional. Cracks can appear in a few different places on a chimney. A crack in the chimney crown happens most often in the winter and spring due to quickly changing temperatures. Since the crown is the chimney’s first line of defense, it tends to take a hard beating from the elements. A cracked chimney crown can lead to water damage and should be quickly addressed. When a cracked crown isn’t tended to, the masonry can begin to break down, which creates an open-door policy for bugs and critters.
Cracked mortar joints are also a serious issue. Mortar is what holds the chimney bricks together, and repeated exposure to snow, ice, rain, and temperature changes makes it weaken over time. As mortar joints crack, they’re unable to support the weight of a chimney. This is another type of chimney crack that should be repaired as soon as possible.
Smoke that blows down the chimney and into the home is called blowback. This happens because the fireplace isn’t producing a strong enough draft to blow the smoke out, and it can be caused by a few different things.
A blockage in the ventilation system is a common cause of smoke blowback and can be the result of debris, buildup, or a broken flue. A dirty chimney is another potential cause of blowback. An improperly sized smoke chamber can also allow smoke to find its way back into a home.
In a best-case scenario, smoke blowback is caused by a problem that doesn’t require chimney repair, like poor wood quality. But because there are multiple causes of blowback, some of which can be very serious, it’s best to have a professional examine a chimney producing blowback to see if a repair is needed.
Shaling, or flaking, tiles are a sign of a damaged chimney liner. If there are flakes of chimney tile accumulating in a fireplace, it’s an urgent sign of necessary repair. If left alone, a chimney with shaling tiles can eventually become a house fire hazard.
Additionally, ignoring shaling tiles will lead a chimney’s brick to be exposed to extreme heat. This means that shaling tiles are one of the first signs of a deteriorating chimney, and they can lead to a domino effect of other symptoms, potential hazards, and expensive repairs if ignored.
Spalling bricks are the result of moisture. As water seeps into a brick and then goes through multiple freeze and thaw cycles, the structural integrity of the brick is compromised. This can result in bricks that crumble, flake, or even pop completely out of the chimney.
Spalling bricks can be a purely aesthetic issue, but it’s hard to tell without an inspection. A professional can determine if the issue is cosmetic or if there is a risk of serious structural damage as the bricks continue to deteriorate. When it comes to spalling, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Applying a masonry sealant can help keep spalling at bay, but if the damage is already done, a repair shouldn’t be put off for too long.
Chimneys tend to have their own foundation or footing. So just because a home’s foundation is solid doesn’t mean a chimney is resting on a solid surface. While a failing home foundation doesn’t mean a chimney is impacted, a leaning chimney is serious and requires a prompt inspection.
Chimneys that are tilting, leaking, smoking indoors, crumbling, or exposing gaps between the chimney and the home are all likely leaning. This can be due to poor construction, masonry issues, missing or compromised footing, expanding soil, or poor water drainage.
Leaning chimneys can be repaired, replaced, or removed, depending on the situation. Although leaning chimneys can be repaired, replaced, or removed, depending on the situation, a leaning chimney won’t get better on its own. When one starts to tilt, homeowners will want to get it inspected sooner than later to prevent costly consequent damage.
Chimney Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Certain DIY projects can help homeowners save money while getting the job done, but chimney cleaning and repair are best left to the pros for three main reasons.
The first is safety. Damaged chimneys create a higher risk of house fires, so homeowners will want to consider safety as well as cost savings and hire a professional to make sure the job is done correctly. Additionally, chimneys can be difficult to access, which means ladders and scaffolding are often required. Both options come with a serious fall risk for novice homeowners; but chimney repair contractors know how to take the proper safety precautions to repair the chimney without risking injury.
The second reason chimney repairs should be left to the professionals is their experience. There’s no substitute for the hands-on experience a pro earns through years of chimney repairs. Professionals are also familiar with building codes related to masonry projects, which is something that could be overlooked by a DIY homeowner. While video tutorials and how-to guides can be helpful, they’re not a substitute for professional work.
Finally, equipment (or lack of) can be a main concern when tackling a chimney repair DIY style. Specialty tools and equipment are usually required for chimney repairs, and the list of necessary tools can grow quite long if multiple repairs are needed. While a homeowner can rent or buy these tools, this will likely wipe out any potential DIY savings. In addition, some of the equipment can be dangerous to use without proper training, making borrowing or renting tools a risky move.
DIYing a fireplace chimney repair may be tempting, especially if the fix seems simple. But chimneys can have hidden issues that can put a homeowner, their family, and house in danger of a serious fire. Additionally, a chimney that’s not properly repaired is still at a structural risk; collapse can be a serious side effect of a poorly repaired chimney. For all of these reasons, homeowners are advised to leave chimney repairs to the pros, even if it costs a bit more than what’s ideal for the budget. The peace of mind a homeowner gets when they know their fireplace and chimney are operating efficiently and safely is worth it.
How to Save Money on Chimney Repair Cost
Chimney repairs are sometimes unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean such a job has to break the budget. Safety should always be a priority, and cutting corners during a chimney repair is never recommended. Here are a few ways homeowners can save on a chimney repair project without sacrificing quality.
- Reach out to more than one chimney repair professional. Ask for detailed quotes to make sure the lowest price isn’t missing critical steps of a repair process and to avoid ruling out the most expensive price in case it actually offers the most value.
- Evaluate all possible options, including different repair types, a chimney removal, and a chimney replacement. The overall cost and savings can be surprising. For example, replacing a chimney may cost more initially but save money in the long run if an older chimney is going to require multiple repairs within a few years.
- Look into your homeowners insurance policy, which often covers chimney repair costs if they fall under a covered peril.
- Keep up on maintenance to extend the life of a chimney. This includes having a functioning fireplace damper, making sure the chimney isn’t experiencing moisture issues, and having the chimney routinely swept.
- Chimney inspections don’t have to take place during “fireplace season.” Schedule inspections and potential repairs during the warmer months of the year to avoid paying higher labor costs and running the risk of a repair’s timeline being extended due to snowy weather.
Questions to Ask About Chimney Repair
Fixing a chimney requires experience and skill. Knowing how to find the best chimney repair service for the job can make all the difference in pricing and execution. Homeowners seeking a skilled chimney repair professional should consider asking an appropriate combination of the following questions.
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you have any references I can speak with?
- Do you have any serious complaints or lawsuits pending?
- Are you certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America?
- How are your employees trained, and are they certified?
- What is included in the inspection?
- Do you perform a camera inspection or just a visual inspection?
- Do you recommend a repair, replacement, or removal?
- When can the job start?
- Is it safe to use my fireplace until then?
- How long will the job take?
- Is there anything I need to do or prep before the job starts?
- How do you make sure debris and other material don’t end up in my yard during the repair?
- How long should I wait to use the fireplace after the repair has been completed?
- What can I do for maintenance to make sure my chimney lasts as long as possible?
- What should I look for in the future that may signal additional work is needed?
- How long do you expect my chimney to last?
When a chimney needs to be repaired, homeowners will want to take prompt action to fix the damage before it gets worse. The average chimney repair cost is $455, making it an overall affordable home improvement project that can add value to a home and offer priceless peace of mind for its owner. Consider the following common FAQs when trying to decide if it’s the right time for a chimney repair project.
Q. Does homeowners insurance cover chimney repair?
Homeowners insurance typically covers chimney repairs, provided the damage was caused by a covered peril. Every policy is different, but covered perils typically include lightning strikes, fire damage, wind damage, and falling objects, like tree branches. If the chimney damage is due to normal wear and tear or neglect, any repair costs are typically not covered by homeowners insurance. Homeowners are advised to read their insurance policy documents carefully to make sure they fully understand what is and is not covered.
Q. When should I replace my chimney?
The answer to this question depends on the material or part of the chimney in question, but the good news is that a properly installed chimney should have a long lifespan. There are a few guidelines to help homeowners know when it’s time to replace their chimney. Clay tile liners should be replaced every 50 years, while stainless steel liners last an average of 15 to 20 years. Mortar should be replaced every 25 to 30 years, and chimney crowns last between 50 and 75 years.
Q. Should I remove or repair my chimney?
A minor issue with a chimney can typically be addressed by a repair. But if the damage is extensive, removing a chimney could be the better option. A homeowner’s budget may also affect the decision to repair or remove a chimney, though safety should always be a consideration.
Q. What is the difference between repointing and tuckpointing?
Both repointing and tuckpointing are repair processes. With repointing, professionals focus on restoring a chimney stack’s mortar and brickwork. Tuckpointing may be used for aesthetic reasons and focuses solely on the mortar. It’s usually done to make the mortar match the surrounding bricks.
Q. How often should I have my chimney cleaned?
A chimney should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year by a qualified professional. For an oil- or wood-burning fireplace, cleanings should be bumped up to twice a year or more if the fireplace is used on a regular basis. Homeowners will also need to keep up with their own maintenance routines, like keeping the firebox clean and investing in a chimney cap or crown.