Chimney removal = remuddling?

My chimney has reached the end of its life. The mortar has turned to sand and the chimney needs to be rebuilt through the upper floor, the attic, and over the roof. A mason quoted me $3k, plus I will have to refinish a bedroom wall and patch the roof. Since I was going to replace the heating system (now I have single-pipe steam) I am considering buying a directly vented furnace and water heater and do away with the chimney. I would gain quite a bit of space in two rooms and a chase to run piping and wiring upstairs.
Would you consider this "remuddling"? One of my neighbors was shocked by this idea and said that a 100 year old colonial would look just stupid without a chimney. It is an internal chimney and only the 4 ft above the roof is visible. It is not a structural element.
EJ
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EJ wrote:

If the appearance *really* was a concern, I bet you could construct a faux chimney 4 feet high on top of the roof. Just a brick facade.
Or, maybe a plastic chimney! LOL
Jim
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I'm a retired licensed Chicago mason contractor. I would consider 3K a very reasonable estimate. This job is very labor intensive.
Now my question is...why did the mortar deteriorate? Where you running a gas burning appliance vented into an 'unlined' chimney?
In all my 40 years on the job, I never saw a interior protected chimney deteriorated like you describe unless someone was venting into an unlined chimney.

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I agree that it is a reasonable estimate. This is one of a few jobs I would not consider doing myself. However, I can buy a new furnace for not much more. The chimney is lined at least at the bottom where I can see into it. There is the gas-fired steam boiler and gas-fired water heater venting into it.
I think that the problem is with the quality of the mortar. I have just replaced front stairs and porch and the mortar was not much stronger than wet sand even in areas not exposed to weathering. The house had a second chimney used for a coal fired stove which was removed 40 - 60 years ago. Last year when replacing the roof I demolished it below the roof line and I could take it apart by hand. That chimney was not lined.
EJ
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I agree preserving the style of the home is an important consideration. I also think it can be done with the new furnace, maybe the faux route. Try this guy: Mike Keefe at Keefe Heating, 773-936-0478 (cell, I think). I've used him for venting, and he was reasonable and quick about it. I also agree that that's a good price on the masonary work.
James

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