Since most people don’t know much about chimneys, particularly fireplaces, they have left themselves wide open to scams occurring every day.

For potential home sales, a buyer may hire a chimney contractor who might suggest relining the fireplace flue or heating flue. This usually starts with a video inspection of the flue lining and close up pictures of the flue lining, after which a quote is submitted which can range anywhere from 5 to 6,000 well over 29,000, along with statements such as as “Don’t use this fireplace, it is a hazard or creosote will catch fire or flue lining is cracked and chimney need rebuilding,” etc. The home inspector may even recommend a contractor with whom he has a financial connection.

Our advice? Do not rely on inspectors or chimney contractors! This is where the scam commonly occurs – if something is working fine for 10 to 50 years, why all of a sudden is it a disaster? A little knowledge or understanding can go a long way.

  1. Terra Cotta flue linings have been manufactured the same way since 1900-1910. They come in 2 foot sections, one stacked on top of the other, as the chimney was originally built. They are used every day in new construction.
  2. This automatically means there is a joint crack every 2 feet. This entire flue lining is surrounded with 4″ of masonry.
  3. If I took a close up picture of the palm of your hand it would look like the Grand Canyon.
  4. When there are damaged or deteriorating flue lining, they will generally occur above the roof line because this is where the freeze thaw cycles occur, and freeze-thaw is what determines the life cycle of both masonry and concrete. Although I have seen it they generally do not deteriorate below the roof line and the scam artists do not tell you which part of the chimney has the problem.
  5. Relining generally consists of slipping a stainless steel liner down the existing flue lining to the top of the smoke chamber. This constricts the area of flue liner and, since when the chimney was built the flue size was determined by the fireplace opening (there is a proportion for this), the chimney may not draw the smoke out properly.
  6. Besides that, if you hold your hand on the outside of a piece of stainless steel pipe and I light a match inside, I guarantee you will not have your hand on that pipe in 5 seconds.
  7. There are many other issues concerning chimneys. For example, a realtor asked me the other day: if these chimneys have been working fine all these years, why does every fireplace and heating flue have to be relined now? You should ask this question yourself. The bottom line here is, is all this work really needed?

If you want additional information or have other questions, please give us a call. We may be able to help.