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Do I Need a Flue Liner for My Chimney?

Do I Need a Flue Liner for My Chimney?

It is one of the first questions anyone asks when they start thinking about installing a wood-burning stove: do I need to line my chimney?

There are three main reasons for fitting a flue liner. The first relates directly to health and safety. If you opt for a short run of flue running through a register plate (the plate used to seal the bottom of an open chimney), you are reliant on the quality of brickwork inside your open chimney.

Homes with and without Chimneys

Gas leaks

If there are gaps in the brickwork or problems with the pointing, there is a danger that gases, including deadly carbon monoxide, could leak into rooms adjoining the chimney and the loft.

This is less likely in properties built from the mid-1960s onwards as these should have a concrete or clay liner already in place in the chimney.

The second reason for lining your chimney also has a safety element, but relates to the aesthetics of your home, too.

Creosote build-up

Wood burns at a lower temperature than the coal for which your chimney was probably intended. The gases released when you burn wood are more likely to cool and condense in an open chimney. This can cause build-ups of creosote in your chimney, which can lead to unsightly stains spreading onto the chimney breast inside your rooms. A build-up of creosote also increases the chance of a chimney fire.

It's worth pointing out that everything we've mentioned so far is very much a worst-case scenario, but they are probably worth filing under 'better safe than sorry'.

Better draw

The third reason for installing a flue liner is to improve the draw. This is the airflow through the flue that encourages your stove to light and burn. A relatively narrow flue pipe encourages a better draw, which is likely to mean your stove heats up more quickly and burns more efficiently.

It is also important to investigate whether your insurance company requires that a flue liner is fitted. It is probably not worth the risk of losing a pay-out in the case of a chimney fire if your policy says you need one.

So, it is not compulsory to line your chimney, but it's probably not a risk that we would be willing to take, and particularly not in older properties. If you decide you don't need a flue liner we would still recommend:

  • Getting a HETAS-registered expert out to inspect your chimney and make sure there is no obvious damage that could lead to problems.
  • Getting your chimney swept regularly. This will help to avoid a build-up of creosote.
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