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The Immediate Hazards of a Cracked Chimney Flue

Chimney flues have been identified as crucial safety features so much so that a fire safety expert once said it is near criminal not to have one. The important functions of a chimney liner are rendered ineffective, however, if it is damaged to even the smallest extent. Among the compelling reasons, leaders in fire safety recommend annual chimney inspections is to determine the condition of chimney liners. The following are dangers associated with a cracked chimney flue.

Leaking of Toxic Combustion Gases

Professional Chimney Inspectors in Ashland, VAWhen chimney liners operate the way they are supposed to, combustion gases are transported up and out of chimneys. If a flue liner is cracked, those toxic fumes enter the household. This exposes occupants of the home to deadly carbon monoxide.

Known as the “Silent Killer,” carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless, invisible, and non-irritating. It is essential to have an operational carbon monoxide detector so that household members can be warned in the event carbon monoxide is leaking into the home.

Pyrolysis and the Threat of Home Fires

If a cracked chimney liner goes undetected, combustible parts of the home are repeatedly exposed to high levels of heat. A process of pyrolysis can occur, which lowers the temperature at which wood and other combustible materials ignite. Eventually, the heat emitted from the chimney liner will cause those combustibles to ignite, resulting in a raging home fire that occupants don’t always have time to escape.

A test conducted in the 1940s by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) discovered that it can take as little as 3.5 hours for woodwork adjacent to an unlined chimney to ignite. It has only been since that revelation that flue liners have been required.

When damage in a chimney flue has been detected, the fireplace or stove should remain unused until certified chimney sweeps provide chimney liner repair or replacement services.

Structural Corrosion

In older chimneys that pre-date the requirement to be built with a liner, the acidity in flue gases penetrates brick and mortar. Rapid erosion of mortar joints exposes exterior masonry to the destructive effects of moisture. Unless repairs are made, chimneys begin leaning and are at risk of collapsing.

Chimney Inefficiency

A breach in a chimney liner affects the efficiency of the venting system. Drafting that pulls toxic gases outside through the chimney is less effective with a damaged chimney flue. The problem doesn’t have to be a breach in the liner, however. If a new fireplace or stove has been installed, ensuring that the appliance has a proper flue size is a vital issue with regard to ensuring optimal performance. Also, sluggish venting can cause excessive creosote buildup, which intensifies the risk of a dangerous chimney fire.

Chimney Liner Installations in Richmond, VAStainless Steel Chimney Liners

Most chimney experts recommend stainless steel chimney liner replacements. Stainless steel liners are often available with a lifetime warranty. Although aluminum is far more affordable, aluminum liners are only suitable for certain medium-efficiency gas heating appliances.

Contact Chimney Saver Solutions for a Chimney Flue Inspection

The certified chimney sweeps at Chimney Saver Solutions who serve the greater Richmond VA area have certifications with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Institute (NFI), as well as others.


Gain peace of mind by trusting our highly trained chimney sweeps with chimney inspections, chimney cleaning, chimney restoration, chimney liner repair and replacement, and other chimney services. Find out the current condition of your chimney flue. Contact Chimney Saver Solutions today by calling 804-440-5000 or click here to schedule an appointment.

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