At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Last Monday, Michael found a brick sitting on top of the air conditioning unit on the right side of our house. It had fallen from the top of one of the two chimneys.

You’ve probably figured out why we have two chimneys since I’ve no doubt that those who come here are smart! But just in case someone’s still scratching his or her head…. Our house, built in 1969, is in a large US Homes tract development. None of the various models included a fireplace. However, buyers could pay extra to have one built in the family room which is what we did.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

The fireplace and the heating unit are served by the same chimney. For the first few years, we went crazy with lighting fires. Eventually, the novelty wore off, and I don’t remember the last time we lit a fire in the family room.

When we began furnishing the living room in the mid-‘70’s, we decided that a fireplace on the far wall would be a fine design element, so we had a contractor build it for us.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Ergo, the second chimney. We lit a fire in that fireplace right after it was built. And that one time was it! As I said, built as a design focal point.

Now back to the current issue…

The fallen brick had come from the chimney built with the house. When Michael looked up at that chimney’s top, he could see that other bricks looked loose. Definitely not good! Using Home Advisor, he contacted several masons. Affirmed, a company that does masonry as well as siding and gutters, said they would send a mason the next morning. Vinnie arrived a few minutes ahead of the scheduled time (points for that!), inspected the chimney and told Michael there was, indeed, a dangerous situation in need of immediate remediation. This would involve removing all the loose bricks in the section at the top and rebuilding it. The work would be done the next day.

On Wednesday, Vinnie came back with another mason, Henry. Not long after they started working, Michael came in to tell me that the situation was a lot worse than Vinnie had thought. The bricks in entire top part of the chimney down to where it widened (near our bedroom window) were loose. The project now entailed removing all the old bricks and rebuilding the chimney with new ones. There would be a new cap at the top, new flashing at the roof line, and waterproofing top to bottom. The other chimney would also be waterproofed. I stayed inside while Michael handled things and relayed this info to me. He also mentioned that they wouldn’t be able to match the brick. My response: I could care less. What’s important is to have a chimney that won’t fall down and possibly injure someone.

While Henry went off to get materials for the rebuild, Michael chatted with Vinnie. He told Michael that he and Henry came here from Albania where, obviously, they were masons. They are working for their uncle who owns the company.

Vinnie and Henry completed the process of removing all the loose bricks on Wednesday and began the rebuild. On Thursday, they returned with two more masons to speed things along.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

At Home: Fixing the Chimney


At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Bringing Up the Concrete

While they were working, they discovered that a dead bird had become stuck in the chimney. After removing it, Henry came inside (Yes, he took his shoes off!) and thoroughly vacuumed the fireplace and cleaned out the ashes.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

I don’t remember the last time it looked this clean!

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

I never saw the bird though Michael did. Happily, we didn’t have to deal with its disposal because Vinnie put it into the plastic bag with the ashes, and the guys took the bag with them when they left.

Before he went back outside, I chatted with Henry. Impressed with his English – accented but quite fluent – I asked if he had studied English before he came here. No, he said. When he arrived here six years ago, he didn’t know even one word.

The job was completed that afternoon.

At Home: Fixing the Chimney

Michael added our rave review to the ones posted previously on Home Advisor.


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