chimney question

I bought a 1925 built house last year. When we got it we had a chimney guy come out and fix the top and check it. He re built the top of the chimney and said we are good to go. I asked about it being lined and he said it was fine.
This year I had another company come out with a camera. They cleaned the chimney and ran a camera. The smoke box is just brick. Seemed like an issue but he said it was still ok. Above that there is the original terracotta liner (rectangular). Some places where the terracotta section meets another there are gaps where some of the mortar is missing. Not a hole just a depression. The largest was about the size of my index finger, length and depth (average adult male). Meaning I could lay my finger in the groove and it would fit perfect. Only one of the gaps is that large and most places the grout or whatever it is is fine.
Basically we had one guy say its fine another say its a fire hazard and it would be $5000 to repair it.
1. How dangerous is it? Small fire risk and keep using it, or oh my god the house is going to burn down anytime if you use it.
2. An estimate for a 4 foot smoke box and 20 foot high chimney relining does $5000 seem high?
3. Most importantly can I use it through the holiday season? I used it all last year and since its been cold this year.
Thanks
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Home owner wrote:

When it comes to playing with fire I would get a few more professionals to check it out phusically.
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Home owner wrote:

I've been going through this same mess, unfortunately for me it was even worse and the terracotta liner had been cracked severely by a chimney fire at some point. When I went to clean it out for relining, the liner collapsed so I attached a cold chisel to the end of an iron pipe and have been adding pipe sections as I go down, breaking out the trashed liner. I'm just about finished with that at which point I'll run an insulated stainless flex liner approved for zero clearance to masonry down the now unlined brick chimney where it will terminate at a woodburning insert.
If your chimney is still structurally sound, I would recommend the stainless liner, you can leave the clay tiles in place assuming they are large enough to accommodate. You can install one yourself if you are the handy type, and combined with an insert, you will get a LOT more heat than an open fireplace and you will not have to worry about the condition of your clay liner. If you wait until the summer, often you can find a steal on a woodburning insert that someone has removed, if you buy one retail they are expensive, but still much less than $5000.
As for the safety of the current setup, if you have cleaned out creosote buildup, you are probably ok to use it, there are certainly lots of chimneys out there in much worse condition, but if there is smoke leaking out of the liner it will deteriorate the brick mortar and possibly leave you with much bigger problems down the road. Keep an eye on it.
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Phone the local fire brigade for advice. E.g. in this jurisdiction safety inspectors can qualify for government-supervized certificates concerning chimneys. City hall can also tell you (a) the local fire code, (b) whether the fire code is retroactive or not.
Do not notify your insurance agent until you are sure how to proceed (and do not trust without checking what firemen may tell you about insurance.) In this jurisdictiion insurange agents are (a) very jumpy about chimney fires etc. (b) usually uninformed about furnaces and stoves, i.e. they know mainly how to process paper. The point is that, if your insurance is ever suspended, it may be extra expensive to restore it.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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I'd get another quote. If it is substantially below the $5000. number (as I expect), I'd report the $5000.00 guy to the BBB/Consumer Protection agency.
EJ in NJ
Home owner wrote:

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Just out of curiousity, what is this chimney used for? Fireplace? Heating system? If its for a gas heating or fireplace system, its less likely a fire would occur because it burns clean anyway unlike oil or wood.
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If this is a fireplace chimney, do what I did. Put in an EPA certified insert with a stainless pipe to the top. It'll be safer, cleaner burning, and will actually heat your house rether than just sucking heat up the chomney. If you are lucky like me, you can find a used insert, with liner, for a few humdred $.
It's also way easier to clean a plain round chimney pipe than a masonry chimney.
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Lots of good idea. Thanks! I am using it as an open fire place. I know its not efficient, but we love it. I will happily pay a couple hundred in cost for extra heating a year to have an open fire in our living room. I also think our chimney is not the worst out there. I think if we have normal small fires and get it fixed in the next few months we should be fine.
He did run his fingers around the top of the chimney and it was tary. He said that was really bad. It seems that would be normal not bad. The people that qouted us 5000, also did a poor cleaning job according to the second opinion.
I got the second qoute and it came in 2000 cheaper. Much better.
I would like to keep the insurance as far from this issue as I can haha. We will address it. Not sure if I am up for running a new liner. That part sounds not to hard but the parging and connections seems above my DIY skills.
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Lots of good idea. Thanks! I am using it as an open fire place. I know its not efficient, but we love it. I will happily pay a couple hundred in cost for extra heating a year to have an open fire in our living room. I also think our chimney is not the worst out there. I think if we have normal small fires and get it fixed in the next few months we should be fine.
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My insert has a glass window on the door, so you get the view, radiated heat, plus lots of well heated air. A couple hundred a year would pay for the insert after awhile. And you'd actually save heating bills.
I actually get most of my heat from the insert.
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