Prep advice for 25 yr. old stuccoed chimneys.

I may have a job painting three 25 yr. old stuccoed chimneys in south east PA. The chimneys have dark staining mostly near the top. All three chimneys are equally stained so I don't think this is related to the oil furnace and the home owners don't burn wood. The stucco seems in good shape. See photos of chimneys at,
https://picasaweb.google.com/andyeverett57/September82012
Do I bleach and power wash, thoroughly dry, and prime with a stain blocking primer or can I skip the bleach and power washing stage, if I can I can save home owners some money. I will probably rent a Nifty tm50 high lift which rents for $300+ a day. What is the proper prep for this job and have I left out any details?
Any suggestions on how this job should be done would be welcome.
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andyeverett wrote:

I don't know the answers about what type of cleaning and how to go about the repainting process etc.
But, from looking at the photos, I have two thoughts on the project:
1) From the second photo, it looks like there may be horizontal lines and signs of efflorescence near the top portion of the chimney. I wonder if that means that water is getting in from the top or near the top of the chimney. Maybe the chimney crown is cracked or needs repair, or maybe there are other chimneys repairs that are needed. So, you may want to suggest that the homeowner first have a chimney person inspect the chimney and see if any repairs to the crown etc. need to be made before the chimney stucco gets painted. Otherwise, painting the chimney may not last because the underlying problem may cause more efflorescence to bleed through etc. Just a thought.
2) How high up off the ground is this roof and chimney? I ask because you mentioned bringing in a lift for $300/day, but if the chimney is not too high up off the ground, and the chimney is in good shape, you may be able to access it for painting by just leaning a 44-foot (+/-) ladder up against it. And, maybe laying a ladder that hooks over the peak of the roof along the roof line next to the chimney to get to that side of the chimney for painting.
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On Sep 8, 6:29 pm, "TomR" ...

Three stories plus. My first thought was ladders and planks and some climbing rope for safety. With the larger lift I think I could roll two coats of paint in one day, or rent in the middle of the day and prime in the afternoon and paint the next morning. It would be a lot of hustle to get all three chimneys done in a day.
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andyeverett wrote:

Well, that's higher up than I thought, so I guess my ladder idea won't work. And, when you originally said 3 chimneys, I wasn't sure if you meant 3 chimneys in one (which the photo seemed to look like) or 3 separate chimneys. Anyway, you are there and I am sure that you would know better what the best way to get up to all 3 chimneys is.
It still may be worthwhile to have the homeowner consider having the chimneys checked by a chimney person before you paint them. And, if it turns out the chimneys need repair, and if the chimney person builds some kind of scaffolding or whatever to get up there to do the work, maybe they could leave that up when they're done until you paint the high parts.
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putting a ladder against a chimney with possible problems could make for the utimate bad day.
20+ years ago a miser friend of mine was on his roof taring over bad slate, he leaned on the chimney a lot...
not long after he had no choice but to remove the bad chimney, the roofers found it was no longer stable when they touched it and it fell 30 feet to the ground. fortunately no one was hurt.....
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On Sat, 08 Sep 2012 13:37:07 -0700, andyeverett wrote:

Stucco is porous and admits moisture. That moisture and just about anything, pollen, pollution, etc. can cause that staining. Use a masonry cleaner to get what you can off, then consider whitewash rather than paint. Whitewash is a masonry product, 1 part white Portland cement and 1 part white hydrated lime, will work, color tint if wanted.
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...

It kind of looks like the mold that stains shingle roofs in this region. I guess it is alive, some kind of growth. Thanks for your help Oren, TomR, and thunder!
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Mold usually is heavier on the shady side.
Greg
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andyeverett wrote:

No suggestion but a comment: to me, the dark areas look like mildew. If it is, check the top of the chimney - the caps - to make sure water isn't getting in there.
I have a block garden wall. When it was built, the top course was filled with grout. Over time, much of the wall developed a nice, furry coat of mildew especially near the top. I capped the wall with clay barrel tiles, cleaned off the mildew and painted the wall. That was three years ago, no mildew since.
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dadiOH
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