Does Your Chimney Have a Liner? Does it Really Need One?
Maryland has many homes a century old or older, virtually all of which were originally built with no chimney liner. Thanks to the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), chimney liners have been mandated safety features since the 1940s. Many homeowners are unfamiliar with chimney liners, however, and question whether they need one at all or need a replacement liner when damage has occurred. The following information provides the answers.
The Functions of Chimney Liners
The fact that toxic combustion materials travel through the chimney liner to escape to the outdoors is fairly well understood, but that’s not the liner’s only function. When you become familiar with all of the essential functions of chimney liners, it’s easy to recognize their importance. Details follow:
Chimney flues are constantly exposed to intense heat from fires. When chimneys are unlined, adjacent combustible materials such as woodwork can rapidly catch fire, sparking a dangerous house fire. NBS studies showed that it can take as little as 3.5 hours for woodwork near an unlined chimney to catch fire.
Prevent Leakage of Toxic Gases
When a chimney liner is damaged to even an exceedingly small extent, combustion gases can escape the flue and enter the home. Carbon monoxide is among the gases produced by fires. With prolonged exposure, the fumes can cause severe injuries and even death. The most frightening thing about carbon monoxide is that it is odorless, tasteless, invisible, and produces no symptoms until it is usually too late to safely escape the fumes.
Protect Masonry from Corrosive Byproducts
The byproducts of combustion gases are toxic and corrosive. If the brick and mortar of a chimney are exposed to the gases, the acidic nature of the fumes destroys the mortar joints. This exposes the masonry to moisture damage and allows heat to transfer more quickly to nearby combustibles.
Ensure Efficiency of Appliances
When homeowners have new solid fuel heating appliances installed, it is essential to ensure that the chimney flue is the size recommended by the appliance manufacturer. By installing a new liner, as necessary, the appliance is able to operate with optimal efficiency. When the liner is incorrectly sized, the chimney draft is usually insufficient and, in wood-burning appliances, excessive creosote buildup occurs in the flue, requiring more frequent chimney liner cleaning.
Annual Chimney Inspections
All leading fire safety experts agree that annual chimney inspections are important. There are various important reasons to schedule a chimney inspection every year, but the most important has to do with the liner. It is difficult to detect chimney liner damage without the help of a chimney expert. When a Level 2 inspection is conducted, chimney professionals do a careful examination of the chimney liner from top to bottom using special camera equipment. When there is a small crack or any type of deterioration, chimney experts will advise homeowners to replace their chimney liner. Most chimney experts today recommend stainless steel chimney replacement liners when a liner is damaged. However, when certain medium-efficiency gas appliances are used, an inexpensive aluminum liner may be sufficient. In some homes, a cast masonry mix liner may be the best option. Your professional chimney technician can answer any questions you may have about their chimney liner recommendations.
Contact the Pros at Complete Chimneys
For trusted chimney services such as chimney liner installation and replacement, contact the trusted experts at Complete Chimneys. We have served Pasadena MD, Baltimore MD, the Washington D.C. area, and homeowners throughout the region since 1984. Call us at 410-544-7600 today for the best in reliable chimney liner services and all of your chimney needs.