LESLIE: Steve in Wisconsin has a question about a damaged fireplace. Tell us what you’re working on.
STEVE: My fireplace, it’s a wood-burner – wood-burning fireplace. And about a year ago, all of a sudden I found a damper would be locked open. And I found a piece of mortar wedged down underneath it, behind it. And it’s a fairly big piece of mortar. And I was wondering how to get up in there to patch where it came loose from.
TOM: So, the damper is blocked open by the loose piece of mortar?
STEVE: It was. I got it out.
TOM: You got the mortar out but now you want to patch it.
TOM: Yeah, that’s tricky because you need some special tools to be able to reach up there to fixed damaged fireplace. And the chimney sweeps have those types of tools.
How far above the damper is where the mortar fell out?
STEVE: I don’t even know yet. I haven’t gotten up there with a camera or nothing. I can’t.
TOM: Well, the first thing you’ve got to do is figure out how bad this is. Now, if you can’t physically do that, you ought to have it inspected. But I want to warn you that there are two trades in America that very consistently provide advice designed to make you panic and pay. And one of them is a chimney contractor and the other one is the wet-basement contractor.
So, you might want to just be very careful about who you select to fix damaged fireplace and make sure that if they give you advice that says – you know, words to the effect of – “Oh, my God, it’s terrible and your house is going to be burn down unless you pay me all this money today,” which is usually what comes across, get a second opinion to make sure you’re getting the right story.
STEVE: Right. Yeah.
TOM: You might want to use HomeAdvisor.com and read the reviews. You can find good-quality contractors on that website.
TOM: But I think you ought to have it evaluated. Because right now, all you know is one piece of mortar fell out. It could very well be that there’s a lot more damage inside that chimney that you don’t know. Worst case scenario, you’re going to want to reline it.
STEVE: Right. Yeah.
TOM: And that would take care of that, OK?
STEVE: This is a huge piece. It’s like 10×7 inches.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean – and that usually didn’t – it’s probably not alone. Probably has some other pieces in there that are ready to go. So I would definitely have it evaluated by somebody that knows what they’re looking at, OK?
TOM: Good luck.