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I just bought a hundred year old house and the basement chimney looks terrible and smells worse.

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Gas hot water has metal sleeve.  Brick chimney has obviously taken moisture or floods over the years and is coming apart--including the cover-overs and sealers, paint, etc. that somebody did.  Basement smelled so bad and after taking everything up and down to the studs, I find the smell is coming out of the chimney brick.

Should I do a mold removal (fogging) and then try to seal it somehow?  Thanks for helping with this.

asked in House Chimney by radigan (120 points)
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1 Answer

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Hi Barry,
I'm sorry but based on your description I can only give you a very general advice. You probably need a professional (chimney sweep) to evaluate the chimney and determine what steps need to be taken for the chimney to function properly, and to remove that unpleasant odor.
If the chimney is sitting directly on the basement’s floor, it’s foundation might be completely deteriorated and allowing for ground water penetration. The same might apply to the lower portion of the chimney walls, its interior, and maybe other sections. If there was no cap on it for some extended period of time, no liner and crown to protect interior, there may not be easy way to fix it, it might require rebuilding. 
Somebody needs to look at its exterior and interior to give you a full answer. It’s too dangerous not to check its structure.
answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)
I think I knew I would probably need a professional to look.  Just needed to confirm there was no easy fix.  It sits above my hot water tank so about grade level.  3 storey house and I cannot at this time get to the roof.  But the water tank now goes into an inner sleeve which is why I thought I could clean it and just seal it off.

Of course it runs up the inner house through some nice rooms (enclosed and textured room to room as appropriate).  I cannot imagine rebuildiing it!


Glad I stumbled on your site and I appreciatre your quick response.

Maybe you don't need any rebuilding but since you are moving in and it's 100 years old... it would be good to know what's inside of it. You can do some basic evaluation with a pair of binoculars and maybe with a mirror / flashlight if you could disconect the WH vent connector and peak inside the chimney...
Thanks.  I looked in the cleanout of the metal sleeve but of course it was horizontal at that point and nothing to see.  I guess I will have to break some of that concrete and brick out.  It is mostly peeled off to about  half inch in anyway.

I just checked and actually the chimney starts about 3 feet below grade--so all that damage could be ground seepage.  Or then again....I won't know a thing until I see the roof and the rest.

I just assumed they had dropped a metal sleeve all the way down but now I am thinking maybe they just ran a short pipe in.  I know nothing about building codes.

Well..I will dig in there a bit.

I will let the thread know how it turns out...