Question & Answer Forum

Welcome to the masonry question & answer forum!

Tim Wheeler has over 35 years of masonry experience and will answer your masonry questions. Ask a masonry question here, or see Tim's solutions for all types of masonry projects by reading below. Do you have a chimney that is leaking water into your house? Why does my chimney not draw right? Can I remodel just the facing on my fireplace? What type of mortar should I use to lay stone? Just ask and Tim will help if he can.

Hello Tim
I have been a realtor for many years. My partner has granite tiles coming off the center island, It is the ribbon around the edge of the island and some of the backsplash. She is in Puyullap, is this a repair you can do?

Linda

Hi Linda,
Thanks for coming to our website and asking your masonry repair question. Granite tile or Granite slabs are beautiful and really hold up well to wear, but even the best of material can come loose or be damaged. Could you tell me if you have been able to save the pieces, or have some of them be lost or broken? This becomes quite important for several reasons. Granite is a natural stone, and as it comes out of the ground or hillside the color can vary somewhat. For that reason, it might be hard to match up to an older granite counter top with new pieces of Granite. If your partner still has the granite in good condition, it should not be a problem.

Best Wishes Tim W Mason

Tim

Hello Tim
Found you on the web and like your work. How much roughly for a stone retaining wall? Remove and dispose of wooden railroad ties retaining wall with proper drainage 1 set of stairs (4 feet wide) 3.5 feet tall wall 90 feet wide wall.

Long

Hi Long,
The price of a stone wall can vary with the type of stone that you use, and also the type of retaining wall that you are building. One of the first things that you would want to consider, is the type of retaining wall that will be holding the bank in place. The two best options are a concrete wall, or a reinforced block wall. Both of these types of walls can be veneered over with stone. This type of stone wall is the top end of pricing, when you are building a stone wall that won't move or give way. I also recommend using only real stone, not cultured stone. The going price per Sq. Ft. in the Seattle area is around $45.00 not counting the wall behind the stone wall.

Best Wishes Tim W Mason

Tim

Hi Tim
I talked with you yesterday. I have the brick stairs which have settled and would need elevating somehow (or rebuilding)?

John

Hi John,
Brick stairs are quite attractive on the front of a house here in the Seattle area. but one of the things that can happen is that moisture get in under the brick, and they start to move around or settled. One way to stop this is to maintain the brick, and mortar between them. This can be done by giving them a good cleaning two or three times a year, and applying a coat of good quality sealer every 3 years. Since your brick stairs have already settled the only way of repairing them is by taking them up and relaying them, this is because brick stairs are many small units that will come apart if you try and lift them a few at a time. If you would like a free estimate for the repair of your brick steps please click our contact us at the top of the page

Good Luck, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hi Tim
I have a question on connecting a metal chimney liner to a masonry fireplace. this is an outdoor fireplace that goes through a pavilion roof. I would like to keep it as a wood burning fireplace but use a metal chimney liner. the flue is around 9 feet tall. Is it possible to use a metal liner with a masonry chimney? if so, where do I find out how to connect them?

Mike

Hello Mike,
One of the things that you have to keep in mind when you want to connect a metal chimney is the fact that it will get quite hot as you burn your fireplace. The metal chimney will transfer the heat to any surface that it comes in contact with, such as your pavilion roof. What you will need to do is use is triple wall pipe so that the outside wall of the triple will not transfer any heat to your roof system. the next thing that you will need to have a metal shop makeup for you is a metal collar, that will slip over your top flue liner, and then attach to the outside bottom of your new triple wall pipe. this chimney flue collar can be attached with simple metal screws since they only go through the outside layer of the triple wall pipe. A couple of other things to keep in mind is since this pipe is going up 9 feet or more, you will also need guide wires to keep in in place and a flashing collar where it goes through the roof. On the last thing is this new triple wall pipe must also have a rain cap at the top so the snow or rain stays out or your chimney, here in the Seattle area.

Best, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hi Tim
Buying a home in north Edmonds The fireplaces look great (28 years old) but there are some areas of moss on the fireplaces. What do you suggest for cleaning it off and is there a spray that I can apply from my garden sprayer that would inhibit future moss growth? Thanks Much

Alan

Hello Alan,
Congratulation on your new home. I use to live in Edmonds and it has some of the best sound views in the whole Seattle area. As a Seattle masonry contractor that specializes in cleaning and repairing brick and stone masonry, I always tell my customer that the very best results come from doing a good job of cleaning the masonry well. If the masonry has a lot of moss and dirt film on it that the place to start. You can use the same moss cleaners that most home stores sell for cleaning decks and driveways, by simply spraying them on with your garden sprayer, let it set then rinsing it off with the garden hose. If the grim and moss are bad you might have to apply more then one application. This is all you may have to do if the masonry is ready for the next step. Once you have a clean surface to work with you need to make sure that all the mortar and brick are in good repair, crack brick and failed mortar joints can now be seen since the masonry is not covered in grime and moss. If your masonry is good to go and does not need tuckpointed, you can let it dry out from the cleaning and buy a good quality masonry sealer. This I do not recommend you buy from the home club stores, as they are mostly poor quality sealers. Go to a masonry material supply yard for the best quality sealers. If you follow these steps your masonry will look great and hold up for 5 years or more, but even the best sealers need to be redone approx. every 5 years or so.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hi Tim
We have a house that was built in the late 70's we have a fireplace with an insert in it, but we are wondering about converting it into an indoor Pizza oven.....have you done this and do you think it is possible to utilize the existing fireplace structure. Thank you

Julie

Hello Julie,
We have converted quite a few over the year, and as a rule, there is room to convert, but you won't still have a fireplace since the pizza oven will take up the area that the fireplace was using. This is not always the case once in a while the fireplace shell is large enough to install the pizza oven, and still keep the fireplace. Is your fireplace on an inside wall or outside wall and is it built of brick or stone? If you would like a free estimate for converting your fireplace let me know, and I come out and provide you with a free estimate.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hi Tim
I'm dreaming about having fireplace in our backyard, and looking for options. I've looked at fireplace kits and found your website. How much would it cost to put an outdoor fireplace? I'm also thinking of extending current 10x12 concrete patio to 15x15 or so, and do some stone tile. Could you give me some idea of cost?

Kumi

Hi Kumi,
One of the thing that you will want to consider is the value and quality when you are thinking about an out-door Fireplace for your backyard. Many of the pre-made units don't seem to hold up for very long before something goes wrong with them. They are much like the outdoor B/Q that only last a few years and then need to be replaced. The cost of building a quality masonry out-door fireplace can vary quite a bit, depending on the material that is used, and the size of an outdoor fireplace that you want to build. We like to come out to our customer's place and go over their idea and provide them with options, so they can make an informed decision. Please give us a call, and we will provide you with a free estimate.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hi Tim
You asked about the curing/break-in process I used for the pizza oven you recently built for us. Here are the notes I have (all temperatures were measured with an infrared laser thermometer, usually about half-way up the arched part of the vault. February 16 small fire with lumber cut-offs, lots of steam, about 3 hours of burning maximum temperature on walls 320-350 February 17 small fire with some hardwood (cherry and madrone), about 3 hours of burning, maximum temperature measured on walls about 460 February 18 small fire with hardwood (cherry and madrone), about 3 hours burning, maximum temperature high on vault walls about 550-570 February 19 fire with hardwood (cherry) larger than before, about 3 hours burning, maximum temperature high on vault walls about 650 February 20 2-3 hours of hardwood (cherry) fire, maximum temperature top of vault 690 February 21 Bought 1/2 cord of apple wood, 2 hours of fire, maximum temperature top of vault 800 February 28 Apple wood fire 2 hours, maximum temperatures 650 March 1 Apple wood fire 2-3 hours, maximum temperatures 800 March 2 Apple wood fire 2-3 hours, maximum temperatures 700 March 3 Fire started 2:30 Temperatures 500-600 for 2 hours, then put on smaller diameter split wood to burn hotter. Wall temperatures at 800 by 5:30, hearth at 800+ when fire moved to the side of an oven for pizza. Did not maintain fire after first pizza place. First pizza at about 6:00. Judged totally successful. March 10 Fire started 2:00, used smaller diameter split apple throughout. 5:00 wall temperatures 700-800, hearth temperature 800-850 First pizza at about 5:30, continued past 8:00. In every case, the oven was still warm 24 hours after the fire went out! Thanks for a great job and helpful hints on use.

Dan

Hello Dan,
This is some very good information about the curing in of a wood-fired Pizza and Bread Oven. Every Masonry oven needs to be cured before it can be used to bake in. This keeps the oven from splitting at a high temperature before it can handle it. For everyone reading, this post-Dan did a great job of curing in his new wood-fired pizza oven. It takes time and effort, but you can see the results that he obtained. If you are needing to cure in your Bread Or Pizza oven, then please feel free to use this article as a model to go by. Happy baking to you. Great job Dan.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hi Tim
I spoke to you today about a rock retaining wall that needs to be repaired. Our house sits on a hill and the retaining wall runs down the side of the hill and around the back of the house basically holding up the pad the house was built on. 2 years ago about 12 to 18 ft of the wall failed and the rocks slide. Since that time the area has been trapped. I think the wall is over 6 ft tall. I need to have this repaired in the least expensive way possible. Probably the best days for me are Monday or Fridays to meet.

Kim

Hello Kim,
What we will need to do is come out and provide you with a free inspection of the entire retaining wall. That is a large section of wall to fail when it is holding up the slab, and the foundation of your home. The area having a tarp over it is probably a good idea, but the waters hydrostatic pressure is probably coming from up the hill above the tarpped area. In any case, we will need to make sure that the retaining wall is able to drain water from behind it so that it won't build up water behind it. This is why the first retaining wall failed. please take a look at this site for more information.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hello Tim
I have two masonry fireplaces in my home. Have you ever heard of them being converted to gas?

Scott

Hello Scott,
There are two ways to convert a masonry fireplace to gas or propane. The first way and the least expensive is to install a gas log inside of the masonry firebox, you will also have to install a glass door as well, because of code requirements. The damper in your fireplace will have to be locked open so that there is no chance of the gas log being used while the damper is shut. The next way is to install a gas insert into the opening of the fireplace. There are quite a few different types and models on the market but most of them cost over $2500.00 dollars plus insulation. The good news is that they are highly efficient and will come with the sealed glass front, and blower fans to warm the room, making them a much better value for the money than a gas log setup. I hope this is of help to you, feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hello Tim
Need help for a 2-sided fireplace that is not functioning properly (too much smoke in the house). It's newly built (remodel) from 2017! Any help you could provide would be appreciated!

Khadijah

Hello Khadijah,
It sounds like you have a problem with your fireplace not venting right. I notice in your email that you say that the chimney was remodeled in 2017? Was it a chimney with one side open only, or was it a see-through fireplace before they remodeled it? I ask this questions because there are a lot of people doing retro fits on a fireplace, who do not know the rules that you have to follow in order to open up a fireplace on both sides. The good news is almost any problem can be fixed. Shoot me an email or give me a call and I will be happy to go over this with you for free.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

Hello Tim
We have an older masonry fireplace in our home. When We first try to light the fire it will back up a little smoke into the room. Once the fire gets going it seems to work a little better, but I can still smell a stronger scent of smoke then we should. We both love a nice fire to sit by once in a while. We like any help that you could give us please. Thank You Ron. P.S. Our last homes fireplace worked beautiful and did not have this problem.

Ron

Hello Ron,
Your question is one that we hear quite a bit in the chimney repair business. The main reason why a masonry fireplace works and draws well is in how it was constructed, and since there millions of fireplace chimneys out there that we are talking about there are also thousands of different masons that built them. While there are rules and good practices to be followed, every mason does things a little different. Here are a few things you can do for your fireplace since id does burn pretty well after you get it going. AS you know warm air want to go up and out better then cold air so before you light the wood, roll up a new paper and light the end holding it above the wood and warm up the flue area, to start that heat moving up and past the damper. And to make a fireplace burn well after you start the burn, try adding these two items, Glass doors, and a out side air vent. These two item can over come a lot of other problems that your chimney might have.

Thanks, Tim W Mason

Tim

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