Chimney repair: repoint, rebuild, or remove (and replace [boiler])
October 24, 2013 10:22 AM Subscribe
The flashing around my chimney isn't doing its job, and I'm getting a little bit of water in my attic during very heavy rains. I'm in the process of getting bids to fix this. Both guys I've had out so far have noticed that the brick is deteriorating - one guy proposed repointing and the other guy thought that the chimney needed to be rebuilt from the roof up. But since the chimney only vents the boiler and the water heater, I got to thinking - should I seize this opportunity to replace these aging appliances with a combi boiler and do away with the chimney for good?
posted by ndg to home & garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The boiler and water heater have both worked fine since we moved into the house about a year ago, but they're old (about 30 years and 10 years, respectively), and I expect we'll be in the house long enough to have to replace one or both of them. The house is heated with cast-iron radiators that I love (and cooled with Spacepak). I saw an episode of "This Old House" in which they replaced a boiler very similar to mine with a fancy tankless hangs-on-the-wall-and-vents-outside combination boiler/water heater. I have no personal experience with these (they seem to be more common in the UK), but Google suggests that they cost between $2k and $4k for the appliance before any tax credits (which sound like they could be substantial). If it's going to be a question of paying $4k to rebuild the chimney (one of the bids) or $6k to remove the chimney, fix the hole in the roof, and have a new energy-efficient hot water system, I'd probably go for the latter. (The two bids to rebuild the chimney were $2,800 and $4,000).
Alternatively, the bid to repoint and reflash the chimney was $1700. I guess the argument against that is that it wouldn't be as permanent a fix as rebuilding the chimney, but they guarantee the materials for 10 years, and there may very well be another decade left in the boiler if not the water heater. I haven't priced any modern boilers that could/would need to vent through a chimney. If they're significantly cheaper than the ones that vent directly outside, that might compel me to invest in the future of the chimney.
I'm interested in any and all thoughts about any part of this question: chimney repair, boiler replacement, boiler installation, expenses, and credits. Thanks!