Are gaps in the chimney flue really a big deal?

disturbedinwv

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
17
WV
Apologies for the lengthy thread. My wife and I just bought a home in June. It was built in 1940 and is two stories. There is a chimney with two flues. One goes to a fireplace, that now has an insert, in the main living area. The other flue goes to the basement. I know the previous owner or occupant was using the fireplace insert because there was still wood in there, and there is wood and kindling on the porch. We just had a cleaning and inspection today by our local chimney/fireplace/etc company.

He showed me pictures that he took from up top, looking down the flues. There are gaps in the flues between the clay liner sections where the mortar has fallen out. There isn't a cap on either flue at the moment, so water gets in there I'm sure, causing the mortar to deteriorate. They recommended that we have them install a stainless liner, and of course we would need a new fireplace insert because they wouldn't be able to connect the liner to this one. Installing the liner will cost about $2,000, but would be more if they cannot slide it in and have to bust out the porcelain. Also, I'd have to buy a new insert or whatnot. He said it wasn't so much of a problem with creosote building up but an ember getting into one of those cracks and causing a fire.

I feel like they have to issue this recommendation for liability purposes. I asked him how many chimney that he inspects in this town that have this same problem and he said basically all of them. I don't think they're being scammy, but I do feel like I would be alright to burn without installing a new liner. Of course I'm not an expert, and they are. My chimney is on a side wall of the house, and it is inset a bit if that makes sense. I can tell that the wall in front of the chimney in the house is not mortar. It is solid to hit. In my mind, I really don't see these gaps between flue pieces being a big deal. Those flue pieces are surrounded likely by concrete and brick. From what I can see in the attic and outside, the bricks and mortar are in good shape.

I guess my question is such: what is everyone's thoughts about gaps in the flue? There isn't cracking, just gaps in between. This is my first post but I've read this forum before. Thank you.
 

disturbedinwv

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
17
WV
Below is in the basement. The opening down there is parged in. Someone painted the brick and it's peeling.
20190726_165735 (1).jpg
Insert on the main level.
20190809_150934.jpg 20190809_150958.jpg 20190809_151214.jpg

This last one is in the attic. There is a little bit of deterioration here or maybe it was repaired at some point.

I am going to try to get the guy to send me the pics of the inside.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
80,791
South Puget Sound, WA
The sweep is correct and the liner needs to be insulated due to the chimney's multiple points of contact with wood. Was the estimate for an insulated liner? Did the sweep say what was the tile ID on the flue serving the insert?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,264
central pa
Below is in the basement. The opening down there is parged in. Someone painted the brick and it's peeling.
View attachment 246300
Insert on the main level.
View attachment 246301 View attachment 246302 View attachment 246303

This last one is in the attic. There is a little bit of deterioration here or maybe it was repaired at some point.

I am going to try to get the guy to send me the pics of the inside.
Your sweep is correct. There are many safety concerns with your setup. I can tell you the chimney does not have the required clearances to combustibles. Your insert is not positively connected to a liner. Your clay liner has gaps. You don't have enough floor protection in front of the insert. It is absolutely unsafe to use the way it is.
 
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disturbedinwv

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
17
WV
The flue liners are 9x13 I think. I should have taken pictures with the insert pulled out. I'm pretty sure its straight up without any offset.

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,264
central pa
The flue liners are 9x13 I think. I should have taken pictures with the insert pulled out. I'm pretty sure its straight up without any offset.

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They are probably 9x13 outside I have never seen any that were 9x13 inside
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,264
central pa
The inside dimensions and how straight it is will determine whether you need to remove the clay liners or not.
 

disturbedinwv

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
17
WV
Yes, the fireplace flue is straight up with no bends. I misunderstood your question.

He didnt really give me a quote but more or less said it starts at about 1800 to put a stainless liner in there. If they have to remove the clay, it could add a day or two which would equate to another couple thousand. And I would have to buy a new insert from them as they wouldn't be able to connect a liner to the existing insert.

It sounds like it will cost many thousands of dollars.

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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
3,454
Downeast Maine
Yes, the fireplace flue is straight up with no bends. I misunderstood your question.

He didnt really give me a quote but more or less said it starts at about 1800 to put a stainless liner in there. If they have to remove the clay, it could add a day or two which would equate to another couple thousand. And I would have to buy a new insert from them as they wouldn't be able to connect a liner to the existing insert.

It sounds like it will cost many thousands of dollars.

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This is the case with any heating system. Post some photos of the insert exhaust.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,154
Southeast CT
This will definitely cost you some money, but in the end, it’s an investment in home heating and will be well worth it once there is a safe and efficient new stove in there.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
80,791
South Puget Sound, WA
What is the goal? Will this be for nights and weekends mostly or 24/7 heating?
 

disturbedinwv

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
17
WV
We were planning on burning as a primary heat source. I was planning on picking up my old woodstove (Waterford 103 from Ireland) over the weekend and putting it in the basement to hook up to the second flue.

The other heat source in the home is electric baseboard.



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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
80,791
South Puget Sound, WA
If it is the primary heat source and the fuel savings is large, then it's worth the investment to do it right.

A modern stove is going to need dry wood to burn well. Oak needs 2-3 yrs to fully dry. Ash much less. It's hard to find fully seasoned wood, but maybe you have a good source.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
20,264
central pa
We were planning on burning as a primary heat source. I was planning on picking up my old woodstove (Waterford 103 from Ireland) over the weekend and putting it in the basement to hook up to the second flue.

The other heat source in the home is electric baseboard.



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The other flue should have an insulated liner as well. Especially due to the fact that it will be very oversized for any Waterford I have seen
 

disturbedinwv

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
17
WV
I wish I could just put my Waterford in place of the insert and run insulated steel pipe up the flue. I could build out the hearth to give clearance around the woodstove.

Is that a pipe dream? It would be cheaper. No more than ten three foot sections at even $100 per would be cheaper than what it would cost with Sunfire. I'd rather have my stove in here anyways.



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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
80,791
South Puget Sound, WA
Which model, Leprachaun? How high is the flue collar on the Waterford and how tall is the fireplace opening? Is there a mantel?
 
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disturbedinwv

New Member
Aug 9, 2019
17
WV
It is a Waterford 103, made in the 80's I think. I have the instruction manual if I could find it. I was using it with the exhaust out the top but I think it can be changed to a rear exhaust.

The top of the fireplace opening is about 3 feet. There is a mantle above. I dont have the stove here to measure. I still need to retrieve it from our former home.

92054e654283faa3e46cc340cf22224a.jpg
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
80,791
South Puget Sound, WA
If the fireplace opening height is 36" it might be able to top vent. That said, this is not a modern stove and it needs an 8" liner I think.