It has been US code that masonry chimneys have flue tile liners for over 90 years now, but in spite of this long-standing code requirement, many chimneys were built with no liner during the last 90 years!
Chimney relining is a common practice with masonry fireplaces. When it is determined that a chimney has no liner, or that the liner is in disrepair, it is common practice to re-line that chimney with a stainless steel tube. This is a safety and health requirement where the chimney is used to contain the byproducts of combustion from a furnace or boiler or wood stove insert. The harmful smoke, CO2, and CO Monoxide poisoning is still a very real danger in older homes with active chimneys which are compromised.
Relining is also used to reline factory built fireplaces which have a modern pellet or wood burning insert installed inside of them. The objective of an intact flue is to contain the smoke and gases of the fireplace. When a masonry flue is compromised through years of exposure to acid rain (because no chimney cap was installed) or earthquake (as in California and the western states) or sulfuric compounds from high efficiency home furnaces or boilers being vented inside of the flue, the best option is to have a stainless steel liner tube dropped down from top to bottom and connected to the appliance creating the exhaust. This new tube is called a liner, and the process in total is commonly referred to as “relining a chimney.”
It is not surprising that many chimney service people are in the business of relining chimneys for profit. After all who knows more about chimneys and fireplaces than chimney professionals? The consumer protection advocacy groups will warn any consumer against hiring a contractor to perform a large and expensive repair, like relining a chimney, who just showed up to your house to do some other chimney related service like an annual chimney sweep. Many businesses coach their employees in upselling, and most of the time it is a win-win. But when upselling training gets greedy and technicians are paid on huge commissions, we will caution you against the integrity of the service provider.
Ask for Proof. Simply ask the technician to prove to you the necessity of the repair. All professional chimney sweeps have a chimney scanning camera on every service van. The camera will expose the cracks and broken flue tiles or missing mortar that is of concern. You should be able to see the picture and see the crack, missing mortar, etc. If the chimney professional does not own or possess a camera for looking inside your chimney flue, then he is not qualified to execute a Level II sweep and inspect and cannot recommend that you need a chimney relining done. If you don’t understand the problem, and the technician cannot help you understand the problem, then wait until you get more information. You should always get 3 bids on all large home service projects. especially chimney relining projects that may be thousands of dollars. Many of these “chimney scammers” have been exposed on TV shows and in newspaper articles. As first line of defense, select a Certified Chimney Professional to review your fireplace needs, and select a company with good online reviews and integrity of their website
The basics of protecting yourself are just that- common sense. If the professional is missing any of the following, be warned.
We hope this article has been helpful to you as you evaluate your chimney service company.