flue replacement - scam or serious?
I have a 20 year old house with a brick fireplace. The fireplace is only woodburning, no woodstove or gas logs. It has been used This year, I used a new chimney sweep. I did call them - it was not a telemarketer/low price deal.
After cleaning the fireplace, they recommended that I replace the flue because the terra cotta tiles that form the flue had chunks of mortar that were missing between them. Cost = $3500.
My tree man was here today, taking down a tree that was directly over the chimney. When I told him that we couldn't use the fireplace until the tree came down and the chimney liner was replaced, he asked for more details. When I told him what the chimney sweeps had told me, he said there was no way in the world I would need a new flue. He pointed out that my chimney flue is encased in cinder blocks, which are then encased inside of brick. He said there was no way my house would catch fire and that telling folks they need a new flue is a common scam. Internet research I did seems to support this. He further said that if my house were 50 years or more older, then he might understand it, since older homes had the fireplace right up against the plaster/framing. Since our house is only 20 years old, we have at least one row of cinder block between the flue and the house, so he felt there really was no need for us to replace the flue.
Now I am confused. Any opionions? What would you do? I am concerned that if I call more chimney people for more opinions, all they are going to do is say, "Oh yes, you do need it!" because they want my $3500.
Thanks in advance.