What to Do if your Chimney Liner is Damaged
One of the most important reasons to have an annual chimney inspection is to be sure the chimney liner is in sound condition. When a flue has deteriorated and becomes damaged, the result is that the household becomes vulnerable to a couple of serious potential dangers. Experts recommend that a fireplace not be used until a damaged chimney liner is replaced or repaired. There are also times when a liner needs to be installed in order to provide the correct fit for a new appliance.
The two primary dangers that can result from damaged flues or ill-fitting flues are: house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
In modern times, all chimneys are required to have a flue liner; and the number one reason is to protect the combustible components around the chimney from being exposed to too much heat. A test was conducted in which a fire was built in a fireplace connected to an unlined chimney. Because the adjacent woodwork was not protected from the heat, the home caught fire in just 3.5 hours. Even one small crack in a flue can result in a fire.
If a chimney liner is an improper fit to an appliance, one of the possible results is that the household can be exposed to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Often referred to as the “Silent Killer,” carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. It is very important to properly install heating appliances, including using the correct flue size.
There are several ways to address the need for a new or repaired flue, including the following:
Install a New Liner
New metal liners are installed inside the existing chimney, and they are usually made of stainless steel. Aluminum is also used sometimes and is much less expensive, but only some medium efficiency gas appliances can be used with an aluminum liner. Typically, stainless steel liners are installed; it is the preferred and recommended remedy for a damaged chimney liner, among fire-protection experts. No matter what type of fuel you are burning – oil, firewood, or gas – a stainless steel liner provides excellent protection and will usually last for the lifetime of the chimney.
Pour in a Cast-in-Place Flue Liner
Another way to fix a damaged chimney liner is to hire professionals to pour a cast-in-place liner; this is not a do-it-yourself project. Using special equipment, a product much like cement is poured along the outer walls of the passageway in the chimney. This type of liner produces a well-insulated flue and can improve a chimney’s structural integrity. Research shows that this type of liner also promotes a cleaner burn, which means there is less creosote buildup.
Clay Liner Replacement
It is very common for fireplaces to be built with clay tile flues because the material is inexpensive and yet lasts for about 50 years. At some point the tiles and the mortar joints between them begin to deteriorate, however, and at that point there needs to be replacement or repair of the liner. Repairing or replacing clay tiles is very costly because the labor involved is intensive. There is basically the necessity of tearing out sections of the chimney in order to get the job done.
Another method for addressing cracked clay tiles in a chimney is to use HeatShield®, which is an environmentally friendly product that is made with naturally occurring, recycled materials. A video inspection is used to examine the clay liner to determine if we can recommend this solution. Joints are repaired and the clay tile is resurfaced to produce a safe liner. This type of liner repair is suitable for fireplaces and appliances using all types of fuel.
Solid fuel appliances that require a chimney for venting are considered by many to be a luxury, and they are definitely amenities which increase the value of a home. An annual inspection to make sure the chimney flue is undamaged is an important part of enjoying the benefits of fireplaces and wood stoves, even though it is never pleasant news to find that a major repair is needed. Contact us today to schedule a chimney inspection; in the event a new liner is needed, we will be happy to fully discuss all of the options with you.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337