With the advent of YouTube and self-help blogs, do-it-yourself (DIY) projects have proliferated in recent years. Not only can DIY projects be a fun and productive way to spend your free time, but they can also save you some money from having to hire a professional.
One area that the DIY craze has taken firm hold is in the realm of home improvement. While there are some renovations, such as adding a cabinet, installing a DIY driveway, or increasing shelf space in the pantry that can be undertaken with little to no risk on the part of the homeowner, there are other projects that are better left to those with experience.
Any project that requires the use of a ladder, involves a major home makeover that involves the foundation or framing of the house, requires a permit, or carries a fire or safety hazard is best left to the professionals. As undertaking a chimney masonry project fills the majority of these boxes, it is not something you want to attempt on your own.
Chimney Masonry Projects Are Dangerous
Before typing “how to seal a window,” “how to lay new living room carpet,” or “how to replace the stone in a fireplace” into Google, the homeowner should be asking him or herself one important question: Is it safe to do any of these projects without the help of a professional?
For chimney masonry projects, the answer is resounding: No, it is not safe.
First, using a ladder and climbing around on the roof is dangerous in and of itself, even if construction materials are not involved. No amount of YouTube instruction will make you adroit on a ladder or on a roof, especially if conditions become treacherous and the footing gets tenuous.
In addition, hauling bricks, stones, cement, and tools can cause rapid fatigue for those unconditioned in manual labor, even on flat ground. In order to avoid a major physical injury, you should leave chimney masonry projects to the professionals.
The Equipment to Do It Right May Not Be Worth It
One of the major draws of DIY projects is the cost savings associated with not having to pay hefty hourly costs to professionals for their labors. While this rationale may be sound for smaller projects, it starts to fall apart when looking into major home renovations.
In the case of a chimney project, the following are just a few of the costs associated with successful DIY:
- A sturdy, non-slip ladder
- Floor covering tarps to prevent soot and creosote from soiling your living spaces
- Personal protective equipment such as glasses, ventilating mask, fire-resistant coveralls, work boots, and gloves
- Heavy-duty shop vacs and extension cords and hoses
- An extensive collection of tools and brushes
This does not even consider the amount of time you would have to give up after work and on the weekends to get it finished. When all of this is considered, the price of hiring a professional to do your chimney masonry work starts to seem comparatively small.
The Cost of Mistakes Are High
To do a chimney renovation successfully, you need to have a thorough understanding of your home’s foundation, frame, wiring, and plumbing, as well as all local residential codes.
Even if you think you are good to go as far as building codes and are sure that you will not damage any electrical wiring or plumbing, there are still a couple of points you must consider.
First, improper installation of a chimney can not only leave cracks through which fire can escape which would require filling cracks in concrete, but errant smoke and other toxins may eventually manifest themselves in the form of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The other central point is that many DIY projects get abandoned midway once the person realizes it is not as easy as initially thought. If this is the case, the cost of hiring a professional mid-project to come in, clean up your mess, and start over from scratch, possibly having to do extra work caused by damage in your DIY project, will far exceed the cost of hiring a professional initially. In some extreme cases, aborted DIY attempts can make the area unworkable, leaving you in a real bind.
Author Bio: Brian Jeffries is the content director for the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.
Get Help with your Chimney Renovations in Kansas City Area
Unless you’re certified to work on chimneys and trained in proper residential construction trades, we recommend NOT starting a DIY project of this magnitude.
If you’re in our local KC Metro area service area give us a call for a chimney inspection. Our Certified Chimney Sweep Technicians do a full evaluation on the integrity of your system. Help you see what’s needed and how much it costs to fix.