How to Hire the Best Chimney Repair Service After Searching ‘Chimney Repair Near Me’
If you’re searching “chimney repair near me,” this guide will help you find the best local chimney repair service.
Having a working fireplace is a luxury that many homeowners relish. It can help cut down on energy bills, serve as a backup heating source in case of a power outage, and lend an air of coziness to the home in the wintertime. However, the thought of chimney and fireplace repair can be daunting—what kind of repairs are necessary? How often do chimneys need sweeping? And it’s true that failure to regularly inspect the chimney can lead to chimney fires and other malfunctions, putting homes and their residents at risk.
Luckily, a chimney sweep near you can take the guesswork out of chimney maintenance. Whether the chimney is tilting, leaking, or simply overdue for an inspection, this guide will cover crucial information on the true cost of repairs, common issues that professional chimney companies can fix, and how to find reputable chimney repair contractors and chimney repair companies. Read on to learn the ins and outs of searching for “chimney repair near me.”
The Cost to Hire a Chimney Repair Service
The average cost of repairing a chimney ranges between $160 to $750. However, the exact rate can vary largely depending on the type of repair. Repairs to the chimney cap or flashing are the least expensive and typically cost only $100 to $300. On the other hand, large-scale restorations are significantly more expensive and can cost up to $4,000.
The chimney’s material is also a cost factor. Brick chimney repair typically costs between $175 to $1,000, depending on how many bricks need to be repaired or replaced. Surface-level replacements on a few bricks, for example, won’t be priced as high as significant repairs and replacements for the entire structure. A total replacement will cost about $10,000. Stucco chimney repairs tend to run between $1,000 and $4,000, though more extensive projects can run up to $4,200.
Common Issues Chimney Repair Services Can Fix
There’s more to a chimney than meets the eye, and each element from the flue liner to the chimney cap is essential to its overall function. Chimney repair contractors can fix a wide variety of issues, including the following.
Crown and Cover Repair or Replacement
The slab of concrete at the top of any chimney, known as the crown, serves a dual function. It not only keeps rain and pests out of the flue, but it also prevents sparks from flying out of the chimney and catching on the roof. Chimneys often also have a cover or cap at the very top for further protection. A chimney repair professional can diagnose and perform chimney crown repair and chimney cap repair.
It may be difficult to tell if a home needs chimney flue repair as the flue is the inner part of the chimney where smoke exits the home. Chimney repair professionals will know how to repair a cracked chimney flue, how to remove chimney liners, and how to reline the flue if necessary. Pieces of tile or ceramic in the fireplace are common signs of a shaling flue liner, which means the liner has begun to crack or flake. A new chimney liner costs about $2,500 on average.
Leaking Chimney Repair
When flashing and sealers fail, cracks can form at the roofline. Professional chimney repair companies can seal the cracks with mortar. They can also repair or reinstall metal where the chimney and roof meet. A quick search for “chimney flashing repair near me” will highlight professionals versed in chimney leak repair.
Cracks and Wood Rot Repair
Chimney contractors can repair cracks within the chimney, which can occur due to temperature fluctuation. They can also repair small areas of wood rot, as some chimneys are framed with wood which can break down from weather exposure. Extensive rot will typically require a complete replacement.
Broken or Missing Brick Repair or Replacement
When bricks start to break (a process known as “spalling”), this can cause the rest of the chimney to become unstable. The longer chimney brick repair is put off, the more significant the damage is likely to become. Chimney repair professionals can quickly replace these bricks.
Chimney mortar repair is necessary when mortar wears down over time. Processes include repointing (removing and repairing the mortar) and tuckpointing (filling in the mortar and blending it in to match with existing bricks). These are typically done at the same time.
Chimney flashing is the metal material that blocks water and moisture from entering the gaps between the chimney and the roof. Flashing can develop cracks or become rusty over time. If a homeowner notices water leaking around the chimney and the surrounding walls, they may need to contact a professional about chimney flashing repair or replacement.
Smoke Chamber Repair
The smoke chamber sits between the top of the fireplace and the base of the chimney and directs smoke and fumes upward. Over time, the smoke chamber can be worn down from heat and soot and become cracked. The chamber occasionally needs to be parged, which involves applying a fresh layer of mortar to its surface.
The chimney stack is the visible outer part of the chimney. If the chimney becomes tilted or has begun to crumble in some places, it may be necessary to fix mortar joints or simply patch small sections. More pronounced leaning could indicate that there is a problem with the chimney foundation.
Some chimneys are surrounded by siding made of wood, vinyl, aluminum, or another material. This siding can become damaged just like the siding on the rest of the home and may need to be secured or replaced.
Leaning Chimney Repair
A chimney that is leaning is in need of major structural repairs for reinforcement. The chimney repair professional may rebuild parts of the chimney or check the mortar joints to determine if there is a problem with the chimney foundation.
Foundation repair is one of the priciest chimney repairs, but also the most urgent. Problems with the foundation pose significant structural issues to the chimney that can cause it to lean or even collapse.
Do I Need Chimney Repair?
While it’s wise to address all chimney issues in a timely manner, some repairs are more urgent than others from a safety perspective. Russ Dimmitt, director of education for the Chimney Safety Institute of America, advises, “Some things that indicate repairs are needed are loose bricks or stone, and deteriorating mortar or bricks. If you smell or see smoke or fumes from the chimney inside the home, or notice charring or drying of wood or other combustibles near your chimney or sounds from your chimney, these need attention as soon as possible. Use of the chimney should be stopped until these problems are diagnosed and remedied.” Here’s how to know whether chimney restoration is necessary and how urgently it must be addressed.
Homeowners who experience any of these problems will need to have their chimney repaired as soon as possible:
- Excess creosote buildup. Creosote is a gaseous byproduct that is produced when burning wood, coal, pellets, or oil. These gases rise through the chimney and coat the inside of the liner in the process. Creosote buildup can be hazardous due to its high combustibility, and significant buildup may be too difficult for the average homeowner to remove without the help of one of the best chimney cleaning services.
- Large cracks and crevices or missing bricks. Fluctuating temperatures, poor drainage, and tree damage can contribute to cracks and crevices in chimney bricks. Small cracks can be quickly sealed to prevent further damage, but larger ones call for immediate service by a chimney masonry repair professional. Missing bricks should also be replaced.
- Chimney fire. A chimney fire is a scary experience that can lead to significant damage to the fireplace and home. Dimmitt warns, “If you experience a chimney fire, the chimney should not be used until it has had a professional inspection.”
- Leaking chimney. If there is water at the base of the fireplace, homeowners are advised to contact a professional to determine the cause of the leak. Signs of excess moisture or leaking may include white staining, a rusted damper and firebox, and water stains on the wall surrounding the chimney. “Water or moisture in the home or chimney should be addressed, as this not only damages the chimney but also the home,” says Dimmitt.
- Damaged mortar joints. Failing mortar joints increases the risk of the chimney collapsing on the homeowner and their property. This is often a sign of accelerated chimney damage and will need to be addressed as soon as possible by one of the best masonry repair professionals.
- Shaling tiles. Sometimes the tiles of a chimney liner will begin to flake with age. This is called shaling, and it can become a fire hazard if it is not addressed immediately. If tile flakes have begun collecting in the fireplace, it is more than likely due to shaling and the homeowner will need chimney tile repair.
Minor, non-emergency chimney problems will need to be addressed by the homeowner or a professional sooner rather than later. However, these concerns are not as urgent as the above emergency issues.
- Minor cracks and crevices. Chimney bricks and surrounding roof structures with minor cracks should not go untreated. However, a handy homeowner can use one of the best roof sealants on roofs and mortar on chimney bricks to keep these crevices from growing.
- Minimal cleanup. Small amounts of creosote buildup or debris in the chimney cap can be taken care of by the homeowner using one of the best creosote removers if they feel comfortable tackling the project. However, excessive amounts of buildup may call for more immediate professional chimney cleaning.
Chimney Repair vs. Chimney Replacement
A crucial question to consider is whether the chimney should be repaired or replaced—or even removed altogether. This will largely depend on the extent of the damage. For example, if chimney flue cap repair is all that is needed, this is a quick and low-cost fix. A chimney that is leaning, on the other hand, may be just as expensive to repair as it is to replace. Typically, replacing or repairing the damaged sections will be enough to solve the problem without replacing the whole structure. However, when damages are sufficient to become a structural liability for the home, it’s best to replace the chimney altogether.
Chimney repairs typically cost less than chimney replacements. Depending on how much the chimney was used prior to the damage, it may also be a matter of whether it’s more worthwhile to repair or remove the chimney completely. Homeowners will want to search for “chimney contractors near me” to speak to a local pro and determine whether repair or replacement is the best course of action, as well as determine the cost to carry out the job.
‘Chimney Repair Near Me’: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
While a DIY approach can solve certain minor chimney problems, others will need to be handled by a pro. According to Dimmitt, “A person who is skilled could tackle small DIY projects such as minor mortar or flashing repairs. Most repairs are best left to chimney professionals.” The homeowner’s experience level must be considered, so they do not tackle any project they aren’t comfortable finishing. Homeowners may also fail to consider that special tools and equipment are required for chimney repair. While doing the labor themselves may help homeowners save on the cost of chimney sweeping, purchasing the proper tools is likely to outweigh those savings.
Chimney cleaning and repair comes with the added risk of falling off a ladder or roof. Chimney repair companies are more experienced with ladder safety and will typically have at least one other person on-site in case of an emergency. Even if homeowners have the technical know-how, they must assess the risk of falling.
It’s important to keep in mind that in addition to having the expertise to address existing problems, chimney repair pros know what to look for when performing a chimney inspection. “The cause of deterioration should be determined both to reduce the chance of further damage and ensure the chimney is suitable for use, and this is best performed by trained individuals,” says Dimmitt. “You should never forget you are putting fire inside your home intentionally, and that requires a high level of vigilance and attention to detail that is best provided by a trained professional.”
How to Find a Reputable Chimney Repair Service
When searching for a local chimney repair company, it’s crucial to find one that has the proper credentials and experience to make the necessary repairs. Keep the following tips in mind during the search for chimney pros and masonry experts:
- Ask around for referrals. Not sure where to begin? Friends and family, colleagues, and even home improvement store employees can often provide names of local professionals.
- Conduct the necessary research. An online search for “chimney repairs near me” with your geographic location will help you find local chimney contractors. From there, look for companies that have certified technicians and the experience required to repair. Verify the business’s contact information, licensure and insurance, and any testimonials.
- Speak with the contractor(s) directly. After researching to ensure that prospective candidates are qualified, schedule a meeting with the chimney contractor or company. Get any contracts or agreements in writing before making payments and authorizing any work to begin.
How to Save Money on Hiring a Chimney Repair Service
Chimney repair costs are not trivial—depending on the severity of the damage, it can cost up to $10,000. However, there are a few ways to make sure that you are getting the best possible price.
- Get several quotes for comparison after searching “chimney repair companies near me.”
- Check to see if the repairs are covered by insurance—if the damage was caused by a peril like an earthquake or storm, it may be covered.
- Find out whether the chimney is under warranty and whether the necessary repairs are covered.
- Do minor repairs yourself, such as patching small holes or replacing sections of flashing.
Questions to Ask Your Local Chimney Repair Service
Asking the right questions can ensure that all chimney repairs go off without a hitch. The following are some questions to ask chimney repair professionals:
- Are you licensed and insured?
- How long have you been in business?
- Does your business have any unresolved complaints?
- What training and experience do you have? What is your specialty?
- What kind of equipment do you use?
- How long will it take?
- How much will it cost? What is the payment schedule?
- Who will purchase the materials?
- Do you offer video scanning?
- Are you Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified?
- Can you provide me with references?
- Will cleanup be included after the project is finished?
The following answers to the most commonly asked questions about chimney repairs can help homeowners understand the process of hiring a chimney professional. This will allow them to feel confident in their ability to hire the best pro for the job.
Q. How much should a chimney repair cost?
The cost of chimney repair will vary greatly, depending on the type of project, the material of the chimney, and the extent of the damage. Average repair costs will typically run between $160 to $750.
Q. Is it normal for water to drip in a chimney?
No. If water is dripping in a chimney, this signifies an issue with the chimney system. Leaky chimneys can cause moisture damage to the structure of the chimney, which can eventually lead to bricks collapsing inside of it. An unchecked leak can also cause further moisture damage to the home.
Q. How do I stop rain in my chimney?
To stop rain from coming into the chimney, it’s critical to first find the source of the problem. Water leaks can result from damage to the chimney structure or the crown, as well as from cracks in the chimney lining. Roof leaks near the chimney area can also lead to rain coming down. Once the source of the water has been identified and repaired, rain will no longer enter the chimney.
Q. Does homeowners insurance cover chimney repair?
Chimney repairs may be covered by insurance if the damage was caused by a covered event like a fire, a lightning strike, or a fallen tree. It will not cover damage that is the result of age or neglect. Homeowners can check their policy to find out exactly what repairs are covered.
Q. How often should a chimney be inspected?
In most cases, one inspection every year before the fireplace’s first use is sufficient. Homeowners who use their fireplace very frequently may want to consider having their chimney inspected more often. On average, chimney inspection costs about $450. Homeowners can search “chimney inspection near me” to find professionals in their area who can perform the inspection.