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How to Know When to Replace Your Chimney Liner

Most people don’t ever see their chimney liner, so it’s impossible for them to know its exact condition at any moment in time. However, there are signs that a liner is beginning to fail, and you can watch for them.

Felgemacher Fireplace Shop of Buffalo, NY, would like to share a few tips on figuring out when it’s time to replace your older or damaged chimney liner.

chimney liner installations in Hilton NYChimney liners 101

Chimney liners typically are made from one of three materials:

  1. Stainless steel
  2. A poured-in-place compound
  3. Clay tiles

A quality liner that hasn’t been directly damaged should last 15 to 20 years. A clay tile liner made from inferior materials may only last five years before problems begin.

Common signs of a damaged chimney liner

Since you can’t see your liner, you have to watch for clues. Here are the most common.

For clay tile and poured-in-place liners

Watch for chips and pieces of the liner in the firebox. As liners decay and break, small chunks will fall away.

For all liners

If your carbon monoxide monitor is going off, the gas may be spilling out of cracks in the liner. Additionally, smoke and combustion gases can back up because of a blockage caused by creosote building up on rough or broken areas of the liner.

Chimney liner inspections

Unfortunately, clues won’t always be present with every type of chimney liner problem, particularly in the early stages. For this reason, it’s a smart idea to have your liner inspected once a year by a licensed chimney technician.

What can damage a chimney liner?

Many things can cause a chimney liner to fail. They include:

  • Chimney fires
  • Damage from intruding water and excess moisture
  • Acidic creosote remaining on the liner’s surfaces for extended periods
  • Poor-quality materials used to build the liner (clay tile and poured-in-place)
  • Old age

The two primary dangers


A compromised chimney liner can set the stage for a major house fire. It’s now the law in most jurisdictions that new chimneys be built with an appropriate liner to contain high heat and flames. If you have an older or historic chimney without a liner, get one installed.


Carbon monoxide leaking from a chimney liner can be potentially fatal to people and animals inside the home. This poisonous gas is invisible and odorless, so the only way you’ll know that it’s present is with a working carbon monoxide monitor.

Don’t take the risk. Have your chimney liner inspected, and get it replaced when it’s time.

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If you’re moving into a new home

When you move into a home with an active fireplace and chimney, it’s a good idea to schedule a complete chimney inspection before using the fireplace. The inspection will not only cover the chimney liner, but also all other parts and components of the system. Never take the home inspector’s word for it – bring in a chimney professional.

Chimney liner solutions

Felgemacher Fireplace Shop knows the importance of a sturdy chimney liner. Our field division, Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney, installs new stainless-steel replacement liners throughout the Buffalo and Rochester regions of New York.

If it’s time for an inspection, or if you’ve noticed signs of chimney liner damage, call us at (716) 482-1820. You can also get in touch through our handy contact form.