During a recent chimney repair in Vienna, VA, a homeowner asked, what is a chimney liner? That is one of the most frequent questions that we hear. Chimney liners are one of the least understood, yet most important aspect of any fireplace system. Selection can determine the safety and efficiency of your fireplace and is therefore not to be taken lightly. Likewise, regular maintenance and prompt repairs will keep your chimney running and keep your family safe. Below you will find everything that you need to know about chimney liners.
What is a Chimney Liner? How Does It Work?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America defines a chimney liner as a “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.” If chimneys are unlined, heat will move through them quickly, increasing the risk of woodwork or other elements catching on fire. Liners also reduce the exposure of corrosive materials to masonry.
Types of Chimney Liners
What is a chimney liner? That is just one of many questions you should be asking yourself if you are a homeowner. Since chimney liners are as versatile as every other aspect of your fireplace, asking yourself which chimney liner suits me better? It´s completely understandable. Selection will depend largely on your budget and the current state of your chimney. A few common types of liners are highlighted below:
Clay tile liners once dominated chimneys. If your home is more than a few decades old, it probably features a clay liner. Clay holds certain advantages but is mainly prized for its durability. It can hold up to a variety of corrosive materials, and, once installed, is likely to last at least half a century. Unfortunately, while the materials for this type of liner can be relatively affordable, the actual installation process may prove time-consuming and costly. Replacement is even more difficult, especially if the chimney is crooked.
Like clay liners, cast-in-place liners tend to be quite durable and can last several decades. Fireplaces with cast-in-place liners often burn cleaner, thereby producing minimal creosote buildup. Installation may be easier for cast-in-place liners than for their clay counterparts, but the process still requires considerable effort — particularly for chimneys with any bends or curves.
In recent years, metal liners have overtaken clay and cast-in-place models in popularity. Metal liners are by far the most convenient and affordable to install. They’re also quite versatile and can work well in chimneys of numerous shapes and sizes. The downside? Metal liners are typically more prone to corrosion.
Common Chimney Liner Problems
While chimney liners tend to be durable, a variety of issues can strike after decades of use. Liners are especially likely to show wear and tear if they weren’t constructed correctly in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, chimney liners may suffer corrosion or creosote buildup over time due to lack of proper service. Old liners are also prone to cracks near their mortar joints. Mortar joint erosion can be particularly dangerous, as it might lead to the leaking of harmful gases (such as carbon monoxide) inside of the home.
Proper Liner Maintenance
While only repair can effectively address an improperly constructed liner, most of the issues outlined above can be prevented or at least delayed through appropriate liner and chimney maintenance. Annual cleanings are imperative for reducing the risk of harmful buildup. Regular inspections allow homeowners to catch small problems before they become dangerous — and more expensive to fix. Click here to learn about the 6 most common Signs that you need chimney repair.
Regular maintenance is vital for both your chimney liner and your entire fireplace system. The team at All Pro Chimney services can keep your fireplace and chimney in excellent shape. Contact us today to learn more about our maintenance and repair services.