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Does Your Chimney Liner Need Replacing?

Your chimney is made up of a number of different parts and components that work together to keep your fireplace burning safely and efficiently. However, many parts of the chimney are completely hidden from view; because of this, it can be difficult to know when they need maintenance.

One hidden – but extremely important – part of your chimney is the chimney liner. Chimney liners protect the building materials surrounding the chimney from smoke and heat; however, because of their location many homeowners do not know when their chimneys need to be relined.

Does Your Chimney Liner Need Replacing - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MI

What is a chimney liner?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America defines a chimney liner is defined as “A clay, ceramic, or metal conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.”

The inside of your chimney structure isn’t open; instead, a metal pipe called a flue connects the firebox to the top of the chimney. This narrow pipe helps smoke and gas vent up and out of your home. However, in order to protect the rest of your home from the heat and gas that passes up the flue, a chimney liner is needed.

Does my chimney need to be replaced?

Because the flue is hidden inside your chimney structure, it can be difficult to know if or when your chimney needs to be relined. Oftentimes, damage to a chimney liner is uncovered during an annual chimney inspection; because changes in effectiveness or efficiency may be hard for homeowners to notice, your chimney sweep may be the first to recognize a problem with the liner. To fully evaluate the damage to a chimney’s flue liner, technology such as closed circuit cameras may be used in order for the chimney sweep to look at the entire length of the flue.

Long term use, over exposure to heat, damage from animals, or lack of being swept can all cause chimney liners to chip or crack. When damaged, chimney liners expose the surrounding building materials to heat and gas; not only can this let gasses like carbon monoxide into your home’s air supply, but in some cases it can also lead to accidental house fires.

Chimneys also may need to be relined if a new insert or fireplace has been installed. Because different fireplaces have different venting requirements, the old flue may not be the right size for the new fireplace. Likewise, switching fuel sources may require your chimney to be relined. Burning different fuel sources creates different byproducts of combustion; while a wood burning fireplace may require a thicker liner in order to handle creosote accumulation, a gas burning fireplace needs a high efficiency liner that is resistant to acidic condensation.

Replacing your chimney’s liner can improve your fireplace efficiency – as well as safety. For more information on relining your chimney, contact the chimney experts at Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

Clear the Air!

Your Chimney And Improving Air Quality

When we talk about chimney and heating appliance safety, we all tend to focus mostly on fire — we can all easily see the danger that comes with improper handling of fire, and the damage that can result. But the truth is, we should be just as concerned with air quality when we’re talking about safer use of home heating appliances.

If a chimney is poorly designed, improperly installed/maintained or damaged, dangerous pollutants can leak into your living area, from small particles to irritating nitrogen dioxide or highly toxic carbon monoxide. Avoiding that is part of annual chimney inspections are so important.

The Effects Of Common Heating-related Pollutants

Indoor air pollution can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Indoor air pollution can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions.

You don’t want these pollutants in your air, and — via studies from the United States Environmental Protection Agency — here’s why:

Small Combustion Byproduct Particles

Burning fuel in your fireplace, stove or insert will create small particles that, in a well-built and well-maintained chimney, will be carried up the flue and out of the home. If those particles get into your living area and you breathe them in, you can end up with anything from respiratory irritation to damaged lung tissue.

Nitrogen Dioxide

If nitrogen dioxide leaks into your space, you can end up with trouble breathing or an irritated nose, eyes and throat. People with respiratory issues or asthma are a particular worry here.

Carbon Monoxide

Burning fuel produces this toxic gas, and since you can’t see it or smell it, chimney professionals make a point of bringing up how important it is to be aware of it. CO poisoning can lead to nausea and dizziness, headaches and other problems. At high concentrations, it can be deadly.

Limiting Your Exposure To Air Pollutant

The first step toward limiting your exposure to pollutants related to your heating appliance and chimney is to have your system inspected annually, and swept regularly. A clean chimney drafts better (to better remove those byproducts), and an inspection ensures that you — and Clean Sweeps of Michigan — can be on top of any problems or damage that need addressing.

A few other ways to minimize air pollutants:

Follow Smart Burning Practices

While Clean Sweeps can help a lot through annual maintenance and necessary repairs, ultimately, cleaner, smarter burning hinges on you, too. You’ll make a marked difference in air quality if you focus on using your appliance the right way. Always make sure your damper is wide open when you’re starting a fire. Only burn seasoned or kiln-dried firewood in your wood-burning appliance. Clean out ash regularly, and never throw trash (or anything else that isn’t seasoned cordwood) into your fire.

Consider Cleaner Burning Appliances

Older stoves and fireplaces can be beautiful, but they’re not always super efficient or clean-burning. Newer appliances on the market — in particular, EPA-approved and -certified fireplaces, stoves and inserts — are designed to burn cleaner, more efficiently and to help improve air quality. If you’re using an old, inefficient heating appliance, we can introduce you to a new unit that can improve your air and save you money on fuel!

Install And Maintain Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Since carbon monoxide can’t be seen or smelled, a CO detector can be the only way you’ll be aware of a leak. Make sure you have a detector on every floor, and check the batteries regularly (changing them once a year is a worthwhile plan).

Cleaner air is as important to Clean Sweeps of Michigan as it is to you. If there’s anything we can do to help, give us a call!

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