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Cracks in old chimney a problem if installing stainless liner?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by zan78, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. zan78

    zan78 New Member

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    Just got my chimney cleaned in newly purchased old house (1920s) - the company is saying that the chimney has cracks and they don't feel comfortable installing the insulated stainless steel liner until the cracks are fixed. They are saying they're not comfortable because 5 years down the road it could be a problem... is this even correct?

    They are however suggesting to rebuild the chimney for 5-7 grand. Not an option for me.

    I need to get this done and done right and I am digging all around online to learn more about chimney repair. They also mention that the bricks are 'backwards' ... ???

    They're saying some type of company that uses balloons or special devices to fill in the cracks within the inside of the chimney is what I need to go with, if I'm still set on making it safe to put the liner in. Also they are saying something within it looks rusted. They don't have any video cam to drop down in to see - and every company around me is charging $400-600 just for a video inspection.

    Safety is a huge concern but I don't intend to shell out a couple hundred or thousands either not knowing what I'm doing or if I'm just getting worked by these 'pros'.

    Or do I just scrap the whole thing and install a free standing wood stove somewhere else in my house? I'd imagine this would cost a couple grand (but the liner is 1500, so could be a trade off?)...

    Thanks so much for any thoughts, I will be doing more researching on my own but appreciate any input to guide me.

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The first clue that they are bullshitting you is that if you have a poured in place liner put in that chimney, what they are talking about with the balloon, is that you will not need for them to install the stainless liner after that is done.

    I will leave the other members to fill in in the rest of the blanks.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome zan. I agree. It sounds like some gold digging here. An insulated stainless liner is essentially a zero-clearance install that has almost no dependency on the chimney other than support at the top. Get a few more quotes.
  4. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    Do you have any pictures of these cracks? What is the chimney's footing like? Is it properly footed? My first impression is to agree with BB and BG. It's also interesting they don't have a video scanner. I would look for a second opinion.
  5. zan78

    zan78 New Member

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    Thanks for all the quick replies. I'll try and get some pics up shortly.

    I was always under the impression it'd be safe if lined correctly, like everyone is confirming here - so it's my understanding that there really is no danger if it is fully lined and insulated?

    We had most all the 3rd degree creosote removed when we had it cleaned out a few days ago, the chimney has no tile lining, and 'backwards' possibly uneven brick within - which I'm not sure what that means of if that adds any additional concern.

    We're considering a partially extruding insert (so we can cook sometimes on it) or a freestanding stove at this point. Going to go talk to someone at a local store today. Probably another grand to have either of those installed.

    I was told on the phone this morning that freestanding wood stoves come with coordinating 'all fuel' chimneys. I'm wondering now if I am jumping the gun trying to get my masonry chimney lined, and then finding that the insert or free standing stove is not compatible with the lining?

    I'm really concerned with the few quotes I've got, one never even mentioned insulating the liner (which seems to be an important step, correct?) I certainly don't want to be investing 3 grand and burn down my house because I'm relying on gold diggers doing a halfass job.
  6. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    My understanding is that a poured-in-place liner may help stabilize an unlined chimney, providing the chimney is basically sound. The drawback is that you are permanently confined to the new size of the flue, so there is no going back to a larger fireplace flue.
  7. zan78

    zan78 New Member

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    I believe its a liner that is insulated by wrapping something around it - he was explaining he lays the liner out, then wraps in insulation, then a wire type wrap around that. Should I be having something poured instead for insulation?
  8. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    Branchburner is correct. A poured in place liner will fill in any cracks, strengthen the chimney and is its own liner. It is, as branchburner says, permanent and non removable. There are two or three brsnds. Supaflu (ww.supaflu.com) is the only one I've had direct personal experience with. Lifetime transferrable warranty, quick installation. Wasn't much more expensive than a ss liner when I had it done a few years ago. Definitely worth checking into.
  9. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    I think you want to address these points, to determine the integrity of the chimney, before you weigh the options of a permanent poured-in liner vs. a removable insulated steel liner. Maybe consult a chimney/fireplace mason as well as a sweep.
  10. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    As far as stove - liner compatibility, if its lined with a standard 6 inch stainless liner it's going to work for about 95% of new stoves on the market.
  11. Yagminas Masonry and Wood-heat

    Yagminas Masonry and Wood-heat Member

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    All I can add is most liner manufacturers state that the chimney must meet code before installation of their product.. Read the fine print and take it from there.
  12. zan78

    zan78 New Member

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    Well the saga continues - he called me back and basically backed out of it needed reconstruction, said it was doable but the box *should* be reconstructed just for peace of mind. So he's out.


    He also wanted to install an 8" liner - which seems odd to me... afterall, aren't stoves all fit for 6", isn't there a compatibility issue? My insert right now is an old 'Grizzly brand' insert - seems in decent shape. Maybe that had something to do with his 8" choice. I recalled this after hanging up, or I would have just direcly asked him. Having someone else out tomorrow.


    This is such a joke, each bidder has a completely different story, one says lining is important, another says not necessary and it'll rip when they shove it down and on and on.

    I apologize on the quality, these are video captured, I will try and get some better shots tomorrow. As you can see, I think it looks in descent shape. Thoughts on the insert are welcome - I know its atleast 15 years old and the fan sounds like a race car runway (and there is no viewing the fire - its solid across the front) - I'm hoping its still in good enough condition to try it - not sure the efficiency (the guy said 30%), hoping he's wrong about that too.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  13. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    Is a free standing stove and modern Class A chimney system out of the question? Sounds like it could well be time to retire the block chimney.
  14. zan78

    zan78 New Member

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    we are considering that, (perhaps a jotul F 3 CB) the only issue is that if what we have works, it seems a shame not to use it - since it has an insert already in place (albeit an old one) and has been cleaned now.
  15. I would run a chimney liner down there.. what are your dimensions.. that all depends on how much insulation if any you can put in
  16. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Looks like what they call an old slammer install, where the insert is slid into the fireplace without any kind of liner and it just vents into the exsisting chimney. Since your chimney isn't lined it isn't safe as is. Get rid of the old inefficient insert, reline with an insulated 6" liner and either install a new insert or hearth stove.
  17. zan78

    zan78 New Member

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    My best option is to hook a 6" liner up to this old insert, unless the verdict is that its incredibly inefficient. The company went out of business mid 90s so its atleast 15 years old (I spoke with a rep today that sold the last of their models when the owner retired).

    1. Is it worth trying or a waste??


    I am planning on doing the liner one way or another anyways - just need to find someone thats not gold digging to do it. I think despite cracks that the chimney is sound enough to run a liner through. I don't think it's necessary to make a completely new all fuel line in another part of my house, but please correct me if you think otherwise.


    2. Should I be worrying about whether the liner is insulated or not???


    I'm undecided whether to have the liner installed to hook up to this insert, to a new insert (which seem more $ for some reason than stoves), or to get a free standing stove hooked through the chimney (or through a hole in the mantel, which I'd hate to do). I guess this all depends on the functionality of the insert present.


    I don't want to over extend my questioning here, I appreciate all the help that's been given. I think these last few questions are about it, I hope to get the rest answered through more research and talking with contracters. Thank you for all the thoughts and advice.
  18. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    If you want to try the old insert your going to have to remove the surrounds or slide it out and see what size your insert exhaust is, could be 8" or even a rectangled flue. You want to reline with the same size as stove. Insulation is required for your liner since you have an old unlined brick chimney.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The old insert may not be designed for a 6" flue. Put the old stove out to pasture and get a new one with the new liner. It will pay for itself in a few years with reduced wood consumption, cleaner burning and better heat output.
  20. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    +1 on what BeGreen said. I updated and it was incredible the difference. Your old unit may be more btu but a lot of it is going up the chimney...
  21. So if his chimney was not built with the proper clearance to combustibles then a stainless liner will not be acceptable?

    Around here chimneys must be brought up to current codes whenever a new appliance is added. Often there is framing too close to the chimney and Supa-flu is a good solution -- the last I knew they could provide a zero clearance solution with there pour in place liner.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That confuses me as well. I can maybe see the requirement for a chimney to be up to code for an uninsulated liner, particularly when maintaining 1" clearance is a problem. But I thought that the intent of the insulated liner was to bring the flue system up to code and UL1777 spec.

    Read through the Duraliner installation manual and I did not find anything about the chimney needing to be up to code first. I did find this statement:

    Attached Files:

  23. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    You mentioned a 30% efficiency estimate for your Grizzly. That's probably about right for an old "smoke dragon." That estimate is for the stove itself. Mounted in an exterior chimney, the stove loses heat through the masonry, which acts like a big heat sink / cooling tower. The efficiency of the whole system may be 20%. Modern stove efficiencies run 60-70%. If you want to minimize heat loss and maximize overall efficiency, don't mount a stove inside of an exterior fireplace/chimney. I'd get a new stove and mount it out on the hearth (standard hearth.com advice, as you've read.) If your taxes allow you to take the 30% tax credit, it's almost a no-brainer. Buy a new stove and get 30% back on the stove and everything required for a safe installation: liner, hearth mods, and labor if you pay for the installation rather than DIY. I would imagine that this would include any repairs your chimney might require for a safe install. If you keep the inefficient Grizzly, you can't get 30% back on the chimney lining job.
  24. zan78

    zan78 New Member

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    The contracter out today was much better, and basically was in agreement with everything posted here as well, from the way he answered my questions. We're going to get rid of the old insert, its just too inefficient like you have all voiced and install a new one with new 6" liner through the chimney.


    He's suggesting to stick with avalon, jotul, country (lennox) and lopi in our shopping and get back to him. Hoping we can stay within 2,000-2500 price range, can't afford much more, tax credit does help though.


    This has been suprisingly quite the task but looks like we're all squared away now to move forward, and have learned so much in the process. I truly appreciate all the help here - so glad to have found this forum.

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