Tips for Restoring Your Historic Chimney
Downtown Richmond, Virginia, is known for its charming historic homes on beautiful tree-lined streets like the infamous Montana Avenue, Broad Street, and Elwood Avenue. Dating back to the mid-1700s, many of these stately older homes were built in the classic Federal-style architecture, which borrows the symmetrical and classical features of Georgian style homes. We restore, clean, and inspect many chimneys of historic or older homes in the Downtown Richmond Area, including beautiful neighborhoods like Carytown, Museum District, Scott’s Addition, Forest Hill, Stony Point, and Bonair, to name a few.
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Peeking above the rooftops of these charming historic homes is the chimney. Its unmistakable presence matches the early building style of the period. Our expert chimney masons specialize in restoring older chimneys in historic homes to their original splendor that is structurally sound and safe to operate with a fireplace or heating stove.
Since most older chimneys were built with narrow flues and often vent multiple fireplaces and heating stoves, it takes a professional chimney mason with experience renovating 18th and 19th-century chimneys to restore them. Here are some of our tips and tricks for restoring older chimneys:
Relining Historic Chimneys
The flues in older homes were often built without a chimney liner and are too narrow for modern round liners. The trick is to use a rectangular stainless-steel liner. The flexible liner will bend to conform to the narrow passageway as it winds its way through the chimney. It’s a better option for historic homes than cast-in-place cement. Plus, it improves drafting and reduces creosote build-up.
Parging The Smoke Chamber
We often find that the smoke chamber, the area between the firebox and flue liner, also needs repair. The stair-step design of older chimneys has jagged edges and decaying mortar that must be parged smooth to conform with modern building codes. We accomplish this with a cast-in-place lining material to smooth out the masonry and restore the smoke chamber so that the fireplace will be safe to operate.
Removing Divider Walls
Older chimneys, especially in historic homes, have brick walls that separate the flues that vent multiple fireplaces within the same chimney. Removing these walls allows us to insert a single, larger chimney liner so that multiple fireplaces can operate in the home sharing the same chimney.
When restoring an older or historic home, there is a very good chance that the chimney hasn’t been maintained for several years or perhaps even decades. So, the exterior masonry may have succumbed to the weather, and the crumbling bricks and mortar joints will need repair. We use mortar repointing, which is a process of filling in the damaged bricks and mortar with a new mortar material that is color-matched to its original condition and strength. When the chimney is severely damaged or when it is leaning, a complete or partial rebuild may be necessary.
Fireplace Damper Replacement
It is not uncommon to find that the fireplace damper in older and historic homes is rusted or warped. If the original damper is not restorable, we will replace it with a new fireplace damper.
Historic Chimney Restoration Services
Need help restoring a historic chimney in the River City? Our team of experienced chimney masons provides chimney restoration services throughout the landmark neighborhoods of Downtown Richmond, including Bonair, Carytown, The Fan, Museum District, Scott’s Addition, Forest Hill, and Stony Point.