Relining a Chimney / Closing Steam Heat Valves / Removing Textured Coatings / Fixing Crumbling Plaster

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2012 at 11:53 am


Our fireplace is brick with a tile liner that is cracked. What is the best type of replacement liner and damper to install? We have estimates using stainless steel. Is a top-mounted damper ok or is metal or plastic the best?


Stainless steel liners are the most common type of re-liners, but is one needed?

Has a chimney sweep run a camera down your entire chimney to inspect it? If not, repairing a few cracks or even replacing the top one or two flues may be all you need.

While most flues are overbuilt, remember a liner reduces the opening size and “can” affect the size of the fire you build.

Chimney top dampers are great. If a plastic damper even exists, I would not install one. There are two types of top flue mounted dampers. Make sure the one you install has a screen to keep out squirrels, raccoons, etc.


We have steam heat and wondered if it would be cost effective to turn off radiators in rooms not in use or will the lack of heat affect the surrounding rooms?


The first question is how old is your house? If it’s older with little or no insulation in the exterior walls, you might have a problem.

I spoke with Carl from C. Darge Custom Consultants (248-540-8414). Carl is an expert with hot water and steam systems. He said you could do it in milder weather, but if the rooms are adjacent to a bathroom or where pipes run within a wall, those pipes could freeze. Carl said you must keep the valves open entirely. By partially opening or closing the valves, the system will be very noisy.

Carl suggested that to save money, you could install adjustable air vents. They are designed to slow down the amount of steam. Put the vent at the lowest setting, you’ll get some heat but not a lot.


I had new windows installed, and recently noticed crumbling plaster at the top of the bathroom window. I never had a problem before this year. Can you give me an idea as to what the cause is?


Here are a few suggestions. The caulking around the exterior and interior of the window should be in good condition. If not, re-caulk. Do you use a bathroom exhaust fan? It should vent through the roof to the exterior, not into the attic.

There could be a leak from above the window. That leak may be coming from a window above the bathroom window, window flashing, loose siding, or damaged mortar. It could be originating at a damaged gable vent and running down the exterior wall to your window.

If everything seems in good order, possibly the window was improperly installed.


I have some of those rolled on “stucco-like” walls and ceilings in my house and want to get rid of them. How can I do it?


Obviously you hate the stucco-look, many people do. Here is one way of smoothing them out. Removing textured paint will be hard and messy but here are a few alternatives:

  1. Sanding and more sanding with an electric orbital sander is one method. Wear goggles and a respirator mask. Doesn’t that sound like oodles of fun?
  2. If the paint was latex rather than an oil-based, you can score the paint surface with a brick. Then, rent a wallpaper steamer to loosen the paint enough to scrape it off.
  3. If the textured surface is not extremely deep, “Plaster in a Roll” is excellent. It’s made by Flexi-Wall Systems. It’s a thick layer that is applied to the wall over the stucco-like surface.
  4. Finally, the William Zinsser & Company makes a product called “Texture-Off”, which is specifically made for removing stucco-like finishes. Don’t you wish I told you that earlier before you worked up such a sweat?

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