flue lining, chimney lining.

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Topic: flue lining, chimney lining.

Chimney and Fireplace October 7, 2011 at 11:31 pm

flue lining, chimney lining.

We have an 1860 brownstone.  The flue from the garden level fireplace was never lined.  When our tenants recently had a fire, our upper duplex filled with smoke.  We have had several different firms come and give estimates, but I’m not sure who to go with.  Also, what size liner to get:  7″, 8″ or 9″.  The fireplace/firebox is apparently larger than normal and a couple people said 9″ is the way to go, but that would likely mean moving or removing the wall of the unused flue next to the one in question, and a huge mess and a lot of work.  Also, what’s the best material?  Double-wall?  Smooth wall?  Should it be insulated?  We’re in Park Slope.  Would greatly appreciate any comments from personal experience.  Oh, the opening at the roof is about 9″ x 9″ but if you look down, the flue gets smaller, and then bends to the right.  The other idea someone had was to just put a 6″ liner in, and have a fan on the roof.  The fan costs $1500 – $2000, and increases the cost of the job significantly.  But, it would likely be far less of a mess to run such a small tube down the flue.  I’m disinclined to go the fan route because it’s just something else to break and worry about, and what if the tenants forget to use it or it breaks mid-fire?  I want the fireplace to be idiot-proof.  Thanks for your input.

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Why not just close up the fireplace and tell the tenants they can’t have fires?  Or put in a fireplace insert to make the fireplace smaller (and thus a smaller flue).  Or a wood stove.  

Thanks for your ideas. Tenants are new, were excited about the fireplace, and pay good rent. They’d likely want a rent reduction equivalent to what it would cost to repair it over the life of the lease. I think in that case it makes sense to do the work and improve the value of the house, as painful as the whole thing is. And if I do it, I just want to make sure I’m doing it right…

You need to consult a contractor who is specialized. All the brownstones I’ve seen here in Brooklyn, were set up for a gas stove inside the fireplace, not a wood burning fireplace. You need a larger flue to burn wood. If it’s not done correct you can cause a fire in the old flue and burn your house down or possibly your neighbors. I have seen this happen. ( New homeowners thought their fireplace was fine but in reality the liner was old and it failed in a few spots and their neighbors top floor caught on fire. ) So you have a lot to consider, risk, expense and a mess to get it installed right.  I once cosidered it for my house however, giving a tenent a fireplace was way too risky for me. 

A pre-Civil War house might not have gas fireplaces, but they still might be intended for cannel coal and require extensive modification for burning wood.

I second what Rick says and strongly advise you to get professional advice. For your own and your tenants’ safety you need to get this right. Try Andre at A&A Chimneys who advertizes on this site. He rebuilt two of our fireplaces with completely new terracotta flues. Even though he did a great job, we only burn fires ocassionally and still get some smoke escaping into the room when we do (there’s only so much a chimney mason can do about the fact that these fireplaces will never be the ideal dimensions for wood-burning). We are also very careful not to let a fire get too fierce since wood burns hotter than coal. Frankly, I would be too nervous to let my tenants use a wbf.

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