If you have a chimney you are probably familiar with the process involved in having your chimney swept and cleaned. Usually this is a routine process but every once in a while when a chimney is inspected a chimney sweep might find that the liner inside of the chimney needs to be replaced and will make the recommendation to the home-owner to do this. Many people are hesitant to spend the extra money to have this process done but it could be the difference between the life or death of your chimney and possibly your surrounding home. To better understand why you must first understand the importance of a chimney liner.
The purpose of a chimney liner is to protect the masonry from corrosive byproducts produced when you burn wood or any other fuel in your fireplace. It also serves to protect your house from heat transfer that can lead to the ignition of wood surfaces near the chimney as well as improve the overall functionality and efficiency of your fireplace.
Here at Total Chimney, we offer metal liners and repair existing clay liners with HeatShield. The most common liners are clay tile liners. While a clay tile liner is relatively inexpensive and can be easy to find they do have potential downfalls. Clay tiles like any ceramic are susceptible to fracturing under extreme temperature change. If the clay tiles crack they must be replaced before the fireplace is safely usable again. They also do not do a great job of protecting the masonry from the combustible byproducts of gas appliances.
Metal chimney liners are only slightly less common. These are usually made from a lightweight metal such as aluminum or stainless steel and are often installed when repairing or upgrading a chimney system. They are much more durable than clay tile liners and, depending on the metal used, are very good at keeping combustible byproducts from building up inside the chimney. Stainless steel offers the greatest protection and is suitable for all fuel types. Aluminum is usually only used when dealing with gas appliances only. Metal is an excellent conductor of heat however so high temperature insulation is usually used to counteract this.
It is understandable for a person to be apprehensive about shelling out the extra money for this procedure but it is a necessary part of owning and safely operating your chimney. Studies done in the 1940’s and 1980’s concluded that installing a chimney without a liner is “a little less than criminal” because of the danger it posed to the surrounding house. In these studies woodwork nearby to the unlined chimney caught fire in about 3 ½ hours! It is never worth the risk to operate a chimney that does not meet safety standards. Although the upfront cost may make you wary in the long run it will save you money and potentially catastrophic trouble.