There are many parts, bits, and pieces in your fireplace that must all be in good repair for it to function correctly and safely. Your chimney liner is no exception. Made of heat- and fire-resistant materials like clay or stainless steel, it fits the inside of your chimney, to contains smoke, gas, and other particles as they make their way out of your home. There are many reasons why it’s important to keep your chimney liner is in tip-top shape, these three being key:
Reason #1 – Unwanted Heat Transfer
A chimney liner separates your chimney from the combustible materials inside your home. Its purpose is to contain heat in such a way that it can exit safely without causing damage to your home. If your chimney liner erodes or becomes damaged, and you continue to light fires in the fireplace, there is an excellent chance that the heat will transfer from the defective liner to the materials around it.
The NBS, or National Bureau of Standards (now known as the NIST, or National Institute of Standards and Technology) tested unlined masonry chimneys in the 1980s. They found that heat built up so quickly in these chimneys that a widespread fire in the surrounding structure could break out in just 3.5 hours. your liner in good shape can help you avoid this.
Reason #2 – Masonry Can and Will Corrode
Your chimney is the pathway for smoke to escape from your fireplace outdoors – but over time, as it rises up and out, this smoke can impact the integrity of the chimney’s structure itself. Smoke contains a variety of dangerous and volatile chemicals, including but not limited to creosote, which can cause the masonry to corrode. If your chimney liner is not in good working condition, these chemical by-products can creep into the masonry, ultimately causing it to break down far more quickly than it otherwise would.
While such corrosion might necessitate a larger replacement of your chimney’s masonry, it can also cause smaller cracks in the bricks and mortar that lead to drafts. And those drafts can be more dangerous than they seem. They can cause toxic carbon monoxide to flood into your home, a potentially life-threatening situation. Having your chimney – including the liner – inspected every single year can help protect your home and your family from such a risk.
Reason #3 – A Right-Sized Flue is Vital to Safe Fires
Flue size is crucial to the proper escape of combustion gas. If your flue is too small, smoke cannot escape properly, and this can lead to smoke billowing throughout your home. Because the chimney liner dictates the size of your flue, it is import and ensures the right fit. Switching out the fireplace insert, or failing to keep the chimney liner clean, can cause an under-sized flue in the chimney liner.
To ensure this does not become an issue, any time you change the fireplace insert be certain that your installer also changes your chimney liner. These two almost always go hand-in-hand. Also, make sure that you are cleaning your chimney at least once each year – and more often if you light regular fires. This will prevent buildup that can narrow the flue opening and present a serious fire hazard at the same time.
Your chimney liner is one of the most important parts of your fireplace’s inner workings, and failing to keep it in good shape could result not only in structural damage but structural fire or even carbon monoxide poisoning. Fortunately, calling professionals to inspect your fireplace and chimney once each year can help prevent these risks while keeping your family and home safe and warm.