As a source of warmth and coziness in winter months, no other feature of a home ranks as high as a fireplace. The simplicity of a fireplace only adds to its appeal. When most people think of a fireplace, they picture the two main features of the system: a hearth inside your home and a chimney to funnel smoke safely outside.
Yet, a fireplace relies just as heavily on a third structural component: the chimney liner. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to appreciate the importance of their chimney liner, let alone the problems that can ensue if their liner falls into disrepair. This article seeks to improve your knowledge of fireplace systems by providing a useful overview of chimney liners.
Chimney Liner Purposes
As its name implies, a chimney liner consists of a narrower flue pipe that sits within the masonry that makes up the chimney. This interior lining plays three key roles. First, it protects your home from the heat of the smoke passing out through your chimney. Without a liner, the bricks of your chimney absorb this heat.
If your fire continues to burn long enough, then your chimney may heat up enough to cause adjacent flammable materials to catch on fire. A liner soaks up much of this heat, allowing your chimney to remain within a safe temperature range, no matter how long you let your fire burn.
Second, the liner shields your chimney's vulnerable mortar from combustion gases. When you burn wood in your fireplace, the resulting exhaust and gases tend to be highly acidic in nature. These acids quickly begin attacking the mortar between your chimney bricks. Structural degradation and increased heat transfer soon ensue.
Finally, liners allow for optimal airflow out of your home. This ensures that fireplace exhaust does not linger inside of your hearth - a problem that can happen if a chimney has too wide of a diameter. Of course, to provide this benefit, a trained professional must properly size the chimney liner.
Chimney Liner Materials
Most chimney liners fall into one of three categories: clay tile, cast-in-place, or metal. Traditionally, most liners consisted of clay tiles. Even with the various of options available today, clay tile liners present many advantages. First and foremost, they possess excellent heat and corrosion resistance.
This resistance allows clay tile liners to enjoy lifespans of around 50 years. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of a clay tile liner has to do with the installation process. Simply put, installing a new clay tile liner in an existing chimney tends to be an invasive and labor-intense process. In most cases, portions of the chimney will have to be broken or dismantled to install the new tiles.
When it comes to retrofitting an old or degraded liner, cast-in-place liners tend to be a better choice. A cast-in-place liner offers most of the same structural benefits as a clay tile liner. However, instead of installing pre-formed clay tiles, contractors pour fresh cement around an inflatable form placed inside of your chimney.
This process tends to be much less invasive. That doesn't necessarily mean that you'll end up paying less, however. The cost of the project will vary depending on the particular length and dimensions of your chimney.
Metal flue liners tend to be even less labor intensive to install than cast-in-place liners. As its name suggests, a metal flue liner consists of a circular sheet-metal tube inserted into your chimney. Many variations exist within the world of metal flue liners, and careful consideration is necessary to get the best results.
For more information about choosing the right type of chimney liner for your home, please contact the experts at R & R Fireplace And Chimney.