Do I need a flue in my chimney?

When’s the last time you replaced your chimney liner? Keep reading to know the signs of a damaged or outdated chimney liner

What Does a Chimney Liner Do?

As your fireplace burns wood, smoke collects in your chimney, creating soot. Too much soot buildup can become a fire hazard. That’s where chimney liners come in handy.

A chimney, or flue, liner is a flexible tube made of terracotta or stainless steel that directs chimney smoke out of your home. Its thin, straight design gives smoke a clear path to exit safely.

Without a chimney liner, soot buildup causes your chimney walls to chip and deteriorate, which can let toxins and smoke into your home.

When Do I Need a Chimney Liner?

Your chimney could need a liner for several reasons:

Ripped or Eroded Chimney Liner

The average insulated chimney liner has a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Your liner is likely eroded if it’s older than that. 

Over time, torn liners resist friction, stopping smoke from being drawn up the chimney. Have a professional replace your outdated liner with a new, flexible chimney liner so air can properly flow out of your fireplace.

Cold Chimneys

When your chimney is too cold, smoke doesn’t rise correctly through it, leaving tar and condensation on the wall of your chimney. Tar buildup can bleed through the walls of your home and cause expensive damage.

To prevent this issue:

  • Always burn dry wood to keep your chimney at the proper temperature
  • Hire a chimney sweep to sweep your liner every six to 12 months
  • Make sure your liner isn’t blocking any airflow

Do you need a chimney inspection or sweep to maintain your liner?

Meeting Chimney Fire Code

Chimneys have a strict fire code to prevent hazards and keep you safe while using them. To meet this code, you must have a well-kept chimney liner.

If your flue liner is outdated or damaged, or if you don’t have a liner, your chimney doesn’t meet fire code requirements. To meet fire code standards, hire a chimney inspector for regular sweeps, upkeep, or chimney liner installation.

Incorrect Size of Existing Liner

When moving into a new place, ensure the liner of your chimney fits it correctly. Many old buildings didn’t have the same safety requirements of today’s chimney fire code. This means your chimney liner might be the wrong size, which can cause your fireplace to lose heat.

Large chimneys over 200mm sometimes need a smaller flue liner to retain heat. Have a chimney technician check your liner to ensure it’s the right size.

What Are My Options for Lining a Chimney?

Chimney liners are versatile and customized to your home’s needs. There are three material options for flue liners:

Clay Tile Liners

Use clay tile liners with a wood-burning fireplace. Initially used for masonry chimneys, clay tile liners keep your home safe from wood heat and fumes.

While these liners are a traditional option, they must be replaced often and require more repair. If well-kept, clay tile liners can last 30 to 50 years.

Cast-in-Place Liners

Cast-in-place liners are best for chimneys with structural issues or cracking clay liners. These insulated liners:

  • Fill eroded mortar joints and cracks
  • Keep heat from leaking out of the chimney
  • Consume creosote buildup, soot, and combustive gases
  • Create a safer flue
  • Burn all fuel types

Cast-in-place flue liners last for 30 to 50 years and are about the same price as clay tile liners.

Stainless Steel Chimney Liners

Stainless steel chimney liners are versatile metal liners. They can be solid or flexible and built to fit any size chimney. Metal liners are also inexpensive to install and maintain.

To restore your original flue, you can place metal liners over clay tile liners. Other benefits of stainless steel liners include:

  • They burn any type of fuel
  • Often come with lifetime warranties
  • Easy to install
  • Average lifespan of 15 years