The liner, or the flue, is an extremely important part of your chimney. It is not simply an out-of-sight-out-of-mind part of the home. Think of your chimney as a fully functional appliance that needs regular maintenance and cleaning in order to work properly. It is, after all, the appliance that allows smoke and toxins to leave your home while you run the fireplace, wood burning stove, or while the boiler is running.
Homes go through many changes throughout their existence. What once started out as a small home may not be an impressive three-story home with a two car garage. The contractors and other professionals who worked on the home should have paid close attention to the heating and cooling systems along the way. HVAC technicians would have made sure the flue leading from the heat pump was properly functional, but they wouldn’t have really inspected the flue for the chimney.
The changes that a home goes through throughout time can play havoc on the fireplace-chimney relationship. A once-functional area may become dysfunctional if the fireplace is changed to a different size. The size relationship between the fireplace and the chimney liner is very important to achieve maximum heating efficiency and proper air flow. That relationship is made unstable with changes to the size of the fireplace or chimney structure.
Relining the Chimney
There are a few reasons you may need to reline the chimney. They are: damage, sizing issues, or absence of a functional flue. Homes and chimneys built before the 1980s weren’t required to have a chimney lining. Unsuspecting homebuyers throughout the years may not realize this and continue using the fireplace as normal.
Advantages to relining the chimney if the existing flue is improperly sized for your existing fireplace or wood burning stove include: increased draft, increased temperature within the flue, reduced possibility for gases to condense before reaching the top of the chimney, and reduction in creosote buildup as a result.
Certified Chimney Sweeps use three different types of chimney liners. All three are very effective, and should be installed by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep to ensure proper installation. You wouldn’t hire a mechanic to fix your computer problems, after all. Always call on the right type of professional for the job when dealing with home maintenance and repair issues.
The three types of chimney liners used in relining your chimney are: cast in place, stainless steel, and galvanized or aluminum sleeves. Cast in place is the most expensive option but is best for chimneys that need additional reinforcement. Stainless steel liners are recommended for all chimney types, especially those that burn coal or oil. Galvanized or aluminum sleeves are the least expensive option and best used with natural gas; these should never be used with coal or oil due to the corrosive byproducts they produce.