Trust Ozark Stove & Chimney With Your Chimney Relining Needs
Who doesn’t love the distinct smell and crackling sounds of a wood stove or fireplace in the home? It’s hard not to. There is something so inherently comforting about winding down in front of a warm and cozy fire after a long day. However, despite their seemingly simple structure and function, there is actually a lot that goes into making sure your chimney system operates efficiently and optimally.
Case in point: the chimney liner. An element only deemed necessary less than 100 years ago, chimney liners help to protect the inner walls of your chimney from the harsh temperatures and corrosive fumes created when you burn a fire.
There are numerous of reasons why you might be due for a chimney relining: you live in an old home with a system that was built before liners were required by code, you’ve noticed (or been informed by a professional chimney sweep) that your existing liner is cracked, your chimney isn’t ventilating the smoke as efficiently as it once was… the list continues. The one thing these things all have in common is the need for swift chimney repair and relining services.
Fortunately, for homeowners in Greene County, MO, Benton County, AR, and countless towns and cities in the area, Ozark Stove & Chimney is here for all your chimney relining needs. Schedule your service today by calling us at 417-201-6585 or reaching out through our site.
What Is a Chimney Liner?
Contrary to their visually simplistic appearance, chimneys are actually rather intricately designed. So, while it might appear that the smoke leaving your fire simply travels up and out via the central open cavity above your firebox or wood stove, this is not exactly the case.
Created in different ways/materials (which you’ll read about further down the page), flue liners act as a barrier between the walls of your chimney and the exhaust, fumes, and noxious gases naturally produced in any kind of fire. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) states the following as the top three functions of a chimney liner:
- Liners protect your home from excessive heat transfer. In tests performed by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) – now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – first in the 1940s and again in the ‘80s, it was found that the heat production caused by a fire in an unlined chimney traveled so quickly that nearby woodwork could catch fire in roughly three-and-a-half hours. A chimney liner helps to maintain and localize that heat in an effort to protect your home and reduce the risk of chimney-caused fires.
- Chimney liners prevent excessive damage to the chimney itself. Fire combustion naturally creates some harsh and volatile byproducts. Just as they would wreak havoc on other seemingly strong and durable areas of a home, these fumes and gases take a toll on a chimney’s longevity. Fire gases are naturally acidic and over time, if a system is unlined, the inner walls that are directly exposed to the toxic fumes get slowly eaten away and begin to deteriorate. If the chimney begins to erode, its durability is compromised and the heat from the smoke can move rapidly to surrounding areas, increasing the risk of chimney fires. Not to mention that this also makes it much easier for dangerous and deadly gases, like carbon monoxide, to seep, undetected, into your home.
- They optimize function and efficiency by creating the appropriate flue size. Not all wood stove, fireplaces, or furnaces are created equally and, thus, not all chimneys (or their flues) are, either. Again, though from the outside (and perhaps your own assumption) it appears that your chimney is all just one open cavity providing the smoke a clean exit from your home, it’s actually a bit more convoluted. Did you know that your chimney actually serves two purposes? One is to be the escape route for fire smoke, of course, but the other is to actually assist in the fire production by allowing the right amount of air in to spark a fire. A properly-sized flue liner ensures that your chimney is performing both duties optimally.
All that to say, chimney liners really are a vital part of your appliance and, just like the entirety of the system, must be inspected and well-maintained to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
Is It Ok Not To Have a Chimney Liner?
Here’s the thing: we wish we could tell you that it is “ok” to operate (or even simply possess) a chimney without a liner. However, it’s just not. As we went over in the previous sections, chimney liners serve a multitude of purposes – some of which have little to do with the operationality of the chimney. The liner protects the system (whether it is prefab, masonry, or another heating appliance) from natural wear and tear, in addition to protecting against the extreme heat and fumes naturally produced.
Actually, in the same tests that were performed by the NBS (now the NIST) mentioned above, researchers analyzed the data and claimed that constructing a chimney without a liner was so dangerous that it was “little less than criminal.” Yikes.
Fortunately, even if your system was built pre-1940s and thus doesn’t have a liner, companies like ours provide a variety of relining services so you don’t have to start from scratch. We’ll cover the different types of chimney liners and all the relining services we administer here at Ozark Stove & Chimney on this page, but if you’re ready to get on our books, give us a call to learn more or you can book online today.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Chimney Liner?
If you don’t have a chimney liner, you should not be using your appliance. Plain and simple. Without a liner, the materials that make up your chimney system will be directly exposed to all the harsh, noxious, dangerous fumes and gases naturally produced during combustion. This means that, regardless of the material, the structure will begin to crack, crumble, and erode – which can ultimately lead to a host of other dangers.
If you don’t have a chimney liner, you are at risk for things like:
- Excessive creosote, soot, and other buildup
- Chimney fires extending into the structure of the home
- Carbon monoxide and other harmful gas poisoning
- Ineffective/inefficient fireplace, wood stove, or heating system performance
- Other issues with your home heating appliance (such as hard time lighting/staying lit)
Especially considering the research, it is better to be safe than dangerously sorry. We’d be happy to schedule a time to visit your home and inspect your chimney – not just to investigate the state of your liner, but to give the whole system a once over. It’s best to do this before the burning season as our schedules are a bit more open and thus we have the time to ensure your system is checked, set, and ready to roll when the breeze begins to cool. Call us to set something up – we’d love to see how we can serve you.
Are Chimney Liners Worth It?
By now, you might be thinking, “…but what if I have a brick chimney? How can a masonry chimney just catch on fire?”
Well, for starters, normal “common bricks” (usually red in appearance and what one pictures when they think of the material) are a low-heat product. This means that, though they are commonly used to build chimneys, homes, and other durable and sturdy structures, they are not actually meant to withstand direct contact with the flames and high heat of a fire.
Fun fact: The bricks that comprise the firebox – the part of your system that houses the fuel and subsequently where the fire takes place – are different from the ones constructing your chimney – these are called fire bricks.
Another hazard that you likely wouldn’t think about is the presence of combustible materials that might have direct exposure to extreme heat or flame. For example, if your brick chimney was not carefully built, there could be accidentally forgotten paper products or other combustible items left within the walls of the chimney during construction. Even if common bricks were built to withstand the high temperatures and noxious gases in and of themselves, you can never be too sure what else might catch fire and spread to other areas.
All that to say, regardless of the type of chimney you have, chimney liners are not only “worth it,” they’re absolutely crucial to ensure your appliance is venting as properly and efficiently as possible.
Before & After HeatShield
What Are the Main Types of Chimney Liners?
Okay, so now that we know why chimney liners are a vital component in the foundation and structural integrity of your chimney, let’s go over the various types out there. Technically, there are three different types of chimney liners:
- terra cotta/clay tiles
- metal (stainless steel or aluminum)
However, cast-in-place liners are usually quite labor intensive and cost prohibitive, so many homeowners choose to stick with either the clay or metal variety.
How Long Do Clay Chimney Liners Last?
Of the three, terra cotta tiles – also known as a clay liner – are the most common chimney liner. Created in a variety of elongated, hollow shapes, from circles to ovals, squares to rectangles, clay liners are fused together with mortar joints and encased within the chimney, running from the smoke shelf (found right above the firebox) or the thimble all the way up and out of the top of the chimney. The hollow, tubular, terra cotta tiles create a smooth passageway that aids the smoke’s exit from the system, as well as protects the masonry from the acids, gases, and other vaporous byproducts inherently created during high heat combustion.
While they are designed to endure higher temperatures and direct contact with fire smoke, they are not meant to withstand direct contact with the actual flames or deal with any rapid change in temperature, such as what might occur in a chimney fire. Terra cotta is a material that has elastic properties and elongates when heated. When this happens, the mortar joints holding the structure together can loosen and separate, creating an opening in your liner for the heat and gases to escape into the rest of your chimney – rather than out through the flue the way they are designed to.
In terms of longevity, it just really depends. Because clay liners are not meant to withstand the rapid heat of direct fire contact, not only can they separate at the mortar joints, they can also fracture and crack within an individual tile, too. That said, the lifespan of your chimney liner can depend on many different circumstances, like how often you use your system, the level of attention and maintenance it receives, natural wear and tear, and other factors.
This is one of the many reasons we recommend getting your chimney inspected every year; a chimney sweep will come out and investigate your entire chimney system (inside and out) in order to provide a professionally sound recommendation on what you can do to ensure your structure is suitable and as safe as possible. If you’re a homeowner in Southwest Missouri or Northwest Arkansas, trust Ozark Stove & Chimney for all your chimney needs.
Are Stainless Steel Chimney Liners Reliable?
When it comes to chimney liner replacement, stainless steel is a popular choice. Generally speaking, there are two different types of metal used to construct a chimney liner: stainless steel and aluminum. In both cases, the liner is usually constructed as one long, semi-flexible tube that is installed from the top of the chimney. A solid option both for prefabricated and masonry chimney relining services, metal liners are reliable, durable, and strong. However, the type of metal matters a great deal when it comes to longevity.
Gas appliance chimneys are often relined with an aluminum liner and are a more attractive option to homeowners because the upfront cost is significantly lower when compared to that of stainless steel. It is important to keep in mind, though, that because aluminum is a weaker metal, a chimney liner made of such material will likely require more maintenance or even replacement down the line.
Did you know that stainless steel chimney liners come in different sizes and alloys in order to accommodate the type of fuel used in the system? While a liner made of stainless steel can be used in wood, oil, and gas-fueled chimney systems, the specific grade of the metal used is very important. The alloys are each designed according to the heat, gases, vapors, and other byproducts created by the different fuel types. For instance, a steel chimney liner for wood-burning fireplaces can handle the fumes and gases created in a wood-fueled fire, but that same exact liner would not hold up if used in a system fueled by oil or gas. The acid in the smoke would eat right through the liner and compromise both your system and your safety.
So, yes, stainless steel chimney liners are an excellent choice when investigating your chimney relining options. However, it is important to be aware that the type of fuel your system uses matters – especially if/when you switch fuel types. Unless your system is lined with clay tiles and has been inspected for any damages and/or recently resurfaced (which we will get to a bit later on), know that if you are changing the type of fuel you use, you must also expect to change out your chimney liner.
What Is a Cast-in-Place Chimney Liner?
Rarely used anymore, cast in place liners are created by inflating a large cylindrical balloon-type structure according to the dimensions of the firebox and dropping it down the top of the chimney. While still inflated, a slurry mix of concrete is poured around this balloon and, once hardened, the balloon is deflated and removed, leaving a flue space of an appropriate size.
Alternatively, a cast-in-place liner may be installed by using a slip-form technique where a vibrating bell is attached to a pulley and, as it is drawn up and out, the vibrations pack in the surrounding concrete. …but like we mentioned a bit earlier, both of these options, while very good and effective, are hardly used anymore. They require a lot of work and a lot of money. It’s a much better use of both time and funds to reline your chimney with a stainless steel liner or, if applicable, have it repaired and restored by using HeatShield.
What Is HeatShield for Chimneys?
A system/relining repair solution first developed in Europe several decades ago, HeatShield is a sealant system created from a hybrid of ceramic and refractory (material resistant to decomposition from elements like heat and pressure) materials – the result of which is appropriately named “Cerfractory.” Only available as a relining/repair solution for terra cotta/clay tile liners, this Cerfractory sealant has three separate application methods, depending on the state and severity of damage.
Here at Ozark Stove & Chimney, we’re proud to offer HeatShield services to restore and reline your existing structure. We recognize how much of a hassle it can feel when researching and weighing your options for chimney relining products and services, which is why we utilize HeatShield products.
What are the different HeatShield repair systems?
The way in which we move forward with any HeatShield product is determined by the damage sustained by the existing flue liner. This way, even more intense destruction from events like chimney fires or water damage can be appropriately treated, repaired, and preserved for future use.
- Joint Repair: As the name suggests, this method only works to repair the mortar joints – not any other cracks or fractures within the actual tiles. The way we achieve this is by utilizing a dimension-specific applicator tool to fill in the damaged mortar fillings between liner tiles.
- Resurfacing: For chimneys that have endured a bit more trauma and thus require a more intensive job, we can resurface the whole system. Before applying the actual sealant (much in the same way that we do for joint repairs with the applicator working its way up the chimney via a pulley system), we go through with a substance designed to prime for the HeatShield, as well as clean up any existing dust and debris. Following the application, we go in with a camera to ensure everything was done properly and your chimney is once again ready to do its job.
- CeCure Sleeve Relining: Our most intense chimney repair/reline option, this method utilizes a customized, thin, stainless steel-enforced, ceramic-insulated sleeve coated with the HeatShield Cerfractory Sealant on both sides. After the chimney is prepared similarly to the first two methods, this sleeve is lowered in from the top of the chimney before being coated again with the sealant. Once again, we follow up with a camera to ensure everything was applied accurately and effectively.
How Do I Know if My Chimney Needs a New Liner?
To be honest, this can be hard to know. Along with other structural integrity issues, it’s not always obvious when your chimney needs to be serviced. Regular, annual chimney inspections are the perfect opportunity to learn all about the state and soundness of your chimney both in structure and function. Even still, if you notice things like excessive soot or creosote buildup, your system not working as efficiently as it once was, or bits of brick or clay in or around your fireplace, stove, or furnace, you may need to have your current chimney liner resurfaced or, alternatively, have a new one installed.
If you’re not sure when the last time you had your chimney system inspected was, it might be time to give us a call. Servicing homes in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas, Ozark Stove & Chimney is reliable and trustworthy – see what we can do for you!
Problems With Your Chimney Liners? Ozark Stove & Chimney Is Here for You
Like you, we’re big fans of the cozy vibes provided by the presence of a home fire. Fortunately, we’re also a company made up of CSIA-certified chimney technicians with boatloads of information and big hearts passionate about serving our community. From routine maintenance like annual chimney cleanings to intensive rebuilds and repairs, we’re qualified to handle it all.
For more information or if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at 417-201-6585 or schedule a service online to learn why our customers keep coming back.