Author – Todd Woofenden
There are advantages and limitations to each kind of chimney:
- Masonry chimneys incorporate traditional beauty that many homeowners want.
- Factory-built chimneys offer a non-masonry option that often proves easier to install, at a lower price.
- Some types of chimneys are designed only for appliances that burn certain fuels.
To understand what type of chimney is best, begin by getting a complete picture of the specific appliances (fireplaces, wood stoves, furnaces, etc.) that the chimney must serve, and the specific venting requirements for those appliances.
For example, factory-built fireplaces often require specific types of factory-built chimneys, while most wood stoves can be connected to either a masonry chimney or certain types of factory-built chimneys.
If you plan to have a new chimney installed, first find out what type of chimney you need for your appliance. Check the owner’s manual for wood stoves or factory-built fireplaces. Chimney requirements should be spelled out pretty clearly.
If you plan to install a new (or used) appliance into an existing chimney, you need to do the same thing. It could be disastrous, for example, to connect a wood stove into a chimney that is designed only for a certain type of fireplace. Don’t assume that you have the right type of chimney. Find out for certain.
Even if your chimney looks solid on the outside, it could be hiding any number of problems on the inside.
Cracked, broken or missing flue tiles, broken or missing bricks, and deteriorating mortar should be replaced. A harmless looking hairline crack in a section of tile flue liner may open up when exposed to high temperatures. Escaping heat or flame could set your house on fire!
Flakes and chunks from deteriorating masonry or rusting metal inside or on top of the chimney may accumulate in a bend or elbow in the flue passageway and block the exhaust of smoke and dangerous gases.
Birds can block the flue with their nests. Animals such as raccoons, squirrels or snakes may be taking shelter in your chimney. Your chimney may need a cap to keep out birds, animals, leaves, rain and snow.
Often a chimney flue is not the appropriate size for the best performance of the fireplace, stove or furnace it is venting. Many chimneys do not have an adequate liner.
~ Todd Woofenden