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Does fireplace insert need chimney liner

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by TANSTAF1, Nov 29, 2009.

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  1. TANSTAF1

    TANSTAF1 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    South Shore MA
    We have never used our fireplace since we bought this house in 1984 because we thought it needed a liner. It was built in the early 1930's. We recently had a mason come out mainly because some bricks fell off the top of the second chimney for the furnace. He said we could have fire in the fireplace as is and did not need to add a liner.

    But what if we put a wood or hopefully multi wood, coal and pellet burning (if there is such a thing) insert into it?

    Do they burn hotter and produce more creosote and thus need a liner.

    Searching briefly for inserts I saw that some come with a steel inner chimney pipe. Are those required? Does it need to go all the way to the top of the chimney?

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  2. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5,000
    Loc:
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    A full SS liner will:
    1. Allow your insert (whatever fuel it burns) to draft better than it
    would by going from a standard 6" flue collar into a flue of a different cross-sectional area &
    2. Make your system easier to clean, because everything from the liner can
    be brushed down into the appliance & contained &
    3. Will allow you to keep more heat in your home via a block-off plate or insulation around
    the liner in both the damper area & under the cap.
    We can give you good advice, what you think of it & do with it is up to you.
    Your home - your call...
  3. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    An insert needs a smaller chimney than you probably have with your fireplace. They also work the best if they go all the way up to the top.
    If you don't use a liner you will have a very bad draw, very smoky fires and a hard chimney to clean.
  4. cycloxer

    cycloxer New Member

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    715
    Loc:
    Worcester County, MA
    Yes, put in a liner. You are a fool if you don't. It would be like buying a Porsche and then slapping cheap tires on it - yeah it will work, but you won't be able to unleash the full potential. The chimney system plays a very important role in the proper function of a wood stove. Read the manual for the stove you are considering and they will provide specific guidelines for the required chimney height & flue diameter.
  5. Being that old you probably need a liner.. unless you know it's perfect.. and if it's not perfect then you probably need an insulated liner..
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    South Puget Sound, WA
    If there isn't a tile liner in this chimney, get another mason.

    But even if there is a tile liner, you will need to know it's size. I'd plan on adding a liner to get better performance and easier cleaning of the insert. And a lot more peace of mind.
  7. TANSTAF1

    TANSTAF1 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    South Shore MA
    Perhaps I should add that I plan mainly to use this fireplace insert on rare occasions mainly for an aesthetic, not a heating effect, which I guess I could do as is without adding an insert.

    I heat with natural gas and in almost thirty years here have never been long without the electricity (as I am in a city) needed to run the furnace and circulating pumps. But there's always a first time.

    I have been deliberating between getting a generator and redoing the hot water circulating pumps and furnace controls to require less power versus other ways for emergency heat.

    If I do an insert, I do not plan on trying to supplant or replace the gas heating system except in an emergency, but merely use it on mostly on holidays or when we otherwise have company.

    I do not think a open fireplace would provide sufficient heat to keep my pipes from freezing. I am not even sure an insert would do it, as many pipes are in the basement and heat rises and while most of the basement is underground, the granite foundation walls are uninsulated.

    So does the intended infrequent use and as an emergency back up change any one's recommendation on a liner?

    What about if I just use it as an open fireplace and do not put an insert in it? So do I really need a liner? One mason says "no", (I did not mention to him that I might add a liner) - should I get additional opinions?

    What does a liner do? I thought it was mostly for safety with regard to creosote. But I guess it also enhances drafting. My only other experience is with a wood stove is at my summer place which is right on a large tidal bay facing west and gets a constant breeze from the southwest off the water so a good draft has never been a problem. I am also near a large tidal bay here in MA also, but I am one row of house off the shoreline.

    For either an open fireplace or an insert what are the advantages and disadvantages of a clay flue versus an SS single one or an insulated one?
  8. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    Welcome sir! Glad to have you here!

    Was he a mason or a sweep? The best thing I could suggest would be to call a certified sweep in and have him or her check it out.

    www.csia.org - you can search for one in your area there.

    Infrequency of use doesn't change your need for a liner if you need one.
  9. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Pittsburgh PA
    for your minimal use it sounds like you might as well just use it as fireplace. You can always add an insert later or you can add gas logs that don't even require a chimney. I have an insert and love it, but it is a commitment of funds that may be overkill for you now.
  10. cycloxer

    cycloxer New Member

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    If you have natural gas heat and you don't plan on using your insert regularly, then save your money. It's not worth the cost. I have natural gas heat as well, but I burn a fair amount of wood so a stove helps me out a bit. Burning natural gas is cheaper than burning wood right now unless you have access to free wood. A small generator will be sufficient to run the control system on your furnace and hot water heater.
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