Effects of a Damaged Chimney
If you’re like many homeowners, you don’t think much about your chimney unless there’s a problem. However, your chimney and the flue liner play a crucial role in efficient chimney operation and your personal safety. That’s why you must take good care of your chimney and fireplace by hiring a professional chimney sweep for annual maintenance, cleaning, and inspections. This blog post looks at your chimney liner and what can happen if you don’t deal with any damage as soon as possible.
What is a Chimney Liner?
If you’re not familiar with fireplace and chimney construction, the flue is the part of the chimney where the smoke from the firebox rises and exits the house through the chimney.
In the old days, chimneys didn’t have flue liners, but they’re now mandated by most fire and building codes because of safety concerns. Chimney liners protect the chimney and the combustible materials near your fireplace from excessive heat and potential fire.
Also, a right-sized chimney liner ensures proper drafting and ventilation, making your fireplace run more efficiently. Lastly, chimney liners protect your chimney from the corrosive effects of smoke and creosote that eat away brick and mortar, causing structural damage over time.
Risks of Chimney Liner Damage
Now that you know what a chimney liner does let’s look at what can happen if it becomes damaged.
Increased Fire Risk
As mentioned, one of the primary functions of a chimney or flue liner is to protect the chimney from the intense heat produced by your fireplace. If your flue liner is damaged, it compromises that protection, putting you at greater risk of a fire. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), “The majority of chimney fires go undetected. Slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or fuel to be dramatic or visible, but the temperatures they reach are very high and can cause as much damage to the chimney structure and nearby combustible parts of the house as their more spectacular cousins.”
If your chimney liner is ill-fitted or damaged, your chimney may suffer structural damage. The hot gases produced by your fireplace corrode the brick and mortar, breaking it down over time, and causing loose bricks, cracks, holes, and openings. This damage weakens the structural integrity of the chimney, but it also creates more opportunities for the hot gases to reach the combustible materials in your home, putting you at risk of a fire.
Reduced Fireplace & Chimney Efficiency
Many homeowners think that if their chimney came with a flue liner, it must be effective, but that isn’t always the case. It’s not uncommon for us to find improperly installed or damaged flue liners during routine chimney inspection and maintenance. And in nearly every case, the homeowner was unaware there was a problem. Some people report problems keeping their fire lit or back puffing, where smoke flows back down into the house instead of up the chimney, and had no idea it was a damaged flue liner that was the cause.
Exposure to Toxic Gases
Another risk associated with flue liner damage is the increased risk of exposure to toxic gases. You may not realize it, but poisonous gas like carbon monoxide can seep through even the tiniest of cracks, putting everyone in your home at risk. Carbon monoxide is called a Silent Killer because it’s odorless, non-irritating, and most people won’t know they’re being exposed unless they have a carbon monoxide detector to alert them.
How to Spot Chimney Liner Damage
The bad news about chimney liner damage is that it’s not easy to spot without routine inspections from a professional because there are no apparent signs that something is wrong. It’s usually only after an incident that people realize the flue liner was damaged. This is why organizations like the CSIA recommend annual chimney cleaning and inspection to ensure your safety and to identify problems before they lead to serious consequences.
About Above & Beyond Chimney Service
Above & Beyond Chimney Service is a family-owned, locally operated company with over 25 years of industry experience, serving customers throughout Southern Massachusetts with the very best chimney, fireplace, dryer vent, and air vent services. We’re members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild, and our technicians are fully licensed and insured for your safety and peace of mind. Whether you need routine chimney inspection, cleaning, maintenance, or chimney repair, call us today to book an appointment at 781-383-0415 or schedule your appointment online.