When you think of chimneys, you probably think of the warmth and comfort of a homey fireplace. Of course, chimneys aren’t just for homes that have fireplaces – most homes have chimneys to vent gases from their heating system. The parts that make up your chimney may not be familiar to you – but they’re all very necessary.
According to the American Red Cross, deaths from fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of unintentional injury deaths in the United States and the third leading cause of fatal home injury. The group says that fireplaces and chimneys are the number one source of home heating equipment fires.
So what can you do to keep your home’s heating system working well and keep you and your family safe?
1.What is a chimney liner?
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According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a chimney liner is “a clay, ceramic or metal conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” A chimney liner can also be known as a flue liner. The Chimney Safety Institute says they can be made of clay, tile or cement-like materials.
2.Does your chimney have a liner?
Not all chimneys do. That’s because not all states and localities mandate homes be built with one. The general consensus from safety experts is that liners are good to have because they help keep your home safe. In fact, researchers with the National Bureau of Standards have said that building a chimney without a liner is “little less than criminal.” Even if your home’s chimney didn’t originally come with a liner, you can still have one installed.
3.What kind of liner does your chimney have?
According to the CSIA, clay tiles are the most common materials used to line a chimney. That’s because they are not too expensive, readily available and have proven to be a good fit for fireplace chimneys. However, they can tend to crack and split in high heat. Also, they tend not to be as effective in homes that use gas appliances. Metal chimney liners are usually used for chimney upgrades. They are usually made of stainless steel or aluminum. Stainless is steel is better for homes that heat with wood, gas or oil. Aluminum works well for homes heated with gas. Cast-in-place liners are lightweight, smooth and mold well to the inside of the chimney to make a perfect fit. They work well with all types of home heating systems.
4.Common chimney liner problems.
Excess fumes are an extremely dangerous way to tell that something is wrong with your chimney liner. If the liner is clogged with soot and heating byproducts, that could make it harder for gas and odors to make it to the outside world. Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors inside your home. If they alert you of a problem, get out right away and have a trained professional track down where the gas may be coming from. Another indicator of chimney liner problem is excess soot. If you notice bits of material inside your fireplaces, that’s a good indicator that something in your chimney is deteriorating and needs to be checked on right away.
5.Chimney liner repair professionals.
Find an expert to help you determine if you have a chimney liner problem. A good professional will usually come take a look at your chimney free of charge, and then lay out some possible solutions for you. You may want to have more than one potential pro come take a look at your chimney, then compare prices. Once you find someone you like – hold on to him or her. Set up routine inspections for your roof and chimney to make sure that once the problem is fixed, it won’t happen again.
Chimney liners don’t get a lot of publicity, but they’re very important to your home’s safety. Be an informed homeowner and you won’t end up watching your money (or your home) go up in smoke.