How to Tell if You Need a Chimney Liner

Could you Need a New Chimney Liner?

You may already have a chimney liner but how can you tell if you may need a new chimney liner? The most simplistic answer is that if your house was built before 1965, and you wish to use it for anything more than an open fire, then the odds are very good that you do in fact need a chimney liner. Older chimneys do degrade with time, with some degradation resulting in blocked chimneys. The simplest way of dealing with your concerns is to call out a certified chimney sweep to clean the chimney and advise you.  A competent chimney sweep, who is HETAS registered will have the knowledge base needed to advise you properly, and sweeping the chimney will enable him to tell you what state it is in as well as the chimney liner.  He will be able to tell you if you need a new chimney liner and advise on the most suitable liner.. There are a number of different types of relining systems on the market. All are different, and not all will suit your chimney. The sectional chimney liner is made from terracotta, ceramics or pumice (the best) however, these require a lot of space … Continue reading

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Let’s Talk Stove Installation!

So, let’s talk stove installation! This may seem like a strange thing to say and do in summer time, even though the rain has been relentless and it feels more like Spring. However, this is the ideal time of year to think about having a stove installation, so that if you decide you would like a stove as part of your home improvements, it is possible to have the stove installation carried out before burning season starts again and start reaping the rewards on fuel savings and heating your home efficiently when you need it most. Accounting for the time it takes to shop around for a stove, obtain estimates, establish your budget, decide on the make and model that’s best suitable for your home, preferred fuel type and what you’re looking to achieve with a stove installation along with then booking and confirming your stove installation and requirements, can take some time. Here we are aiming to give you a quick summary about stoves and a stove installation to help you if you are thinking about it or undecided. Well, to have a wood-burning stove installation in your house is the new ‘must have’, and not just from chasing … Continue reading

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Chimney and fireplace checks

Spring into action with these chimney and fireplace checks! Spring is finally upon us and although it’s been a mild winter, it’s great to see the daffodils spring to life (having had site of them over the winter months) and now the days are getting longer. Many of us will be coming out of our own winter hibernation, putting our fires out, dusting off our lawn mowers and turning our attentions to the garden or embarking on some home improvements in a quest to create our own ‘Grand Design’ having spent the winter months watching ‘George’s Amazing Spaces’ and ‘Restoration Man’! Before you forget about your chimney and fireplace for another season, just remember to carry out the following Spring chimney and fireplace checks so that come next Autumn and winter, your chimney and fireplace will be in top good working order and safe to use again: Keep an eye out for birds nesting in your chimney- Our feathered friends like nesting in our chimneys and can cause blockages which could result in a chimney fire Store any remaining fuel in a dry place  – Burning damp fuel is the main cause of soot and tar build up Inspect your … Continue reading

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What things fall down the chimney?

Have you ever wondered what things are that fall down the chimney? Things that go bump in the night – or day for that matter.  This article is all about what things can fall down the chimney, and why. Now the things that fall down the chimney can vary from the worrying to the horrific, and it helps to know what causes things to fall down the chimney.  So if you have had any problems with things that fall down the chimney, you have come to the right place. We will start with the Victorian chimneys and the things that go bump in the night!  I joke, but it can be very worrying to people who find lumps of mortar that fall down the chimney, as well as the odd brick.  Victorian chimneys shed like a dog, and this is down to the acidic flue gasses eating away at the cement mortar – they used both to construct their chimneys and line them.  (See our previous article on the subject).  Most usually, this shedding is in the form of a steady rain of grit and sand that is almost unnoticed, but sometimes the liner can blister, and then there is the … Continue reading

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The common problems with a chimney and its liner – Part 7

The common problems with a chimney and its liner – Part 7 Retro fitting! This is a continuation and final installment of a 7-part article on chimneys and their liner – giving a brief history of chimneys, their liners and the associated problems that can arise from them.  If you have any queries on your chimney or liner or should you wish to know more about any of these issues, get in contact with your certified chimney sweep, who will be delighted to advise you on this topic. In this final part we look at the retro fitting of a liner and the relining of older flues that really aren’t up to the job of serving a modern stove.  I say stove, because the relining of a flue is an expensive process when talking of a 6” diameter flue as needed by a stove.  You can line for an open fire, as long as it is a small one.  There are sectional rigid liners and you probably can get them for a large open fire, but the cost will be significantly higher as soon as you go over the 10” diameter liner.  Plus, a fireplace of any size, when served … Continue reading

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Chimneys, liners and their problems – Part 6

Part 6.  The arrival of the modern chimney, and no, it isn’t all good news. This is a continuation of the article dealing with the chimneys and liners of previous eras.  Starting with the inglenook and the Georgian chimney we have dealt at length with the problems of the Victorian chimneys, because they are many and serious.  As always, should you be concerned that your chimney may be displaying any of these anti-social habits, the best person to discuss it with is your certified chimney sweep.  He will have a good grounding in the subject and is best placed to advise you. The 60s.  Peace, love, flowers and a legacy of bad design.  The concept of the modern house, disconnected from the old fashioned fire meant that they forgot the important lessons of chimney design bequeathed to them by the Victorians. All kidding aside, there was a gap after the banning of the Victorian-style chimneys in 1965 in which the concept of the open fire burning solid fuel was relegated to the past while electricity, gas and oil would provide a modern, sophisticated way of heating the house. Of course it didn’t work out like that and before too long … Continue reading

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Chimney liners and their problems – Acid Attack!

Part 5.  The internal consequences of acid attack. This is a continuation of the article on chimney liners and their problems, stretching from the inglenook to the modern chimneys and the retrofit liners we have at our disposal today. This part focusses on the internal damages from acid attack to the cement mortar.  Remember, if you think your chimney may be suffering from these problems, and you wish to discuss it with someone, your certified chimney sweep is the best person to advise you, as his entire business life revolves around chimneys, their problems and their cures. As explained earlier, the acid in the flue gases attacks the cement.  This causes the individual cement grains to puff up and expand, which disrupts the texture of the cement causing it to lose all strength and expand.  This causes the original mortar to expand and fall off, sometimes in quite large lumps exposing the mortar between the bricks which then crumbles and expands.  This can get so bad that breaches are made between two flues, allowing flue gases to flow through into unused flues where they can fall down into the living space. Also, when the acids attack the cement they cause … Continue reading

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Common problems with Victorian chimneys

Part 4.  The consequences of the Victorian chimneys. In the previous parts of this article we dealt with the older types of chimneys and their liners and the problems they caused.  While the inglenooks and the Georgian styles of construction are still remarkably trouble free, even today, the same cannot be said for the Victorian chimneys.  This was down to their use of cement instead of the lime putty favoured by the Georgians, and its vulnerability to acid attack.  Having explained the chemistry behind the problem we would now like to show how this has devastated so many chimneys. One point.  Many people on reading this will recognise that their chimneys do suffer from one or more of the problems listed in these articles, and will want to know just how badly their chimney is affected and what they should do about it.  The best thing to do is to call in a certified chimney sweep.  Get him to sweep the flue and ask him to advise you.  Certified chimney sweeps aren’t just good chimney sweeps, they also have an excellent knowledge base, so make sure you tap into that. At first glance, acid attack seems no biggie.  So the … Continue reading

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Could your chimney be leaking smoke into your home?

Could your chimney be leaking smoke into your home? Did you know that chimneys in the CB1 and CB4 area tend to have the worst deterioration rate within a 25-mile radius of Cambridge? Chimneys over time disintegrate and can cause smoke to leak into your home, typically into bedrooms which is downright dangerous. Our 35 years’ experience maintaining chimneys within this area has enabled us to see first-hand local chimney trends and we’ve found in recent years that the deterioration of chimneys in the CB1 and CB4 area is much worse than other areas. Why do chimneys deteriorate? The soot, tar and creosote produced from burning wood or coal has acid in it.  This acid attacks the cement which hold the bricks together in the chimney stack and over time the cement disintegrates.  This leaves hundreds, if not thousands, of miniscule holes up and down your chimney.  If you look at the diagram, you can see that the partition wall in between the two flues is at most risk because it is being attacked on both sides by acid erosion.  This is why the inside of your chimney can be in poor condition while the outside is in good condition. … Continue reading

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Chimneys and their liners – The Victorian Era

Part 3.  Chimneys and their liners – The Victorian catastrophe This is the third episode in our article on chimneys and their liners.  The first and second dealt with the older inglenooks and the Georgian style chimneys, and we touched on the Victorians and their basic points.  In this article (and possibly the next) we will look at what it was that the Victorians did that caused so many problems for the modern day owner of their houses in terms of their chimneys and their liners.  Remember that in the context of chimneys, Victorian refers to the method of construction which was finally outlawed in 1965, which shows just how long it took for a bad idea to die. The other point I always make is that you should always use a certified chimney sweep.  Such a chimney sweep will not just be good at his job, he will also have an excellent knowledge base, so if you are heir to any of the problems we illustrate here you can discuss it with him. So, enough waiting.  What was it that the Victorians did with the chimneys and their liners that really set the rot into all the chimneys they … Continue reading

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