Saving My Fireplace

My wife and I just bought an older farm house (circa 1901) and we've been enjoying nightly fires. About a week ago we noticed smoke starting to accumulate in the living room and got nervous. I had installed a roof top damper weeks earlier, but we had many fires without incident after I installed it.
With the lights off and using a flashlight, I realized smoke was belching out from behind the mantel and along the brick trim all the way down to floor level. I realize this is a potentially deadly problem. My theory is that smoke is escaping through the old mortar joints in the flue tiles, leaking down around the flue inside the brick chimney above the firebox, and ultimately into the house (and who knows where else).
Given that we definitely want to enjoy the open fireplace (we just bought 7 cord of mixed hardwood!), is relining the chimney with a flexible liner an option? I have read some warnings about the danger of using a round liner and the resulting impact on flue diameter reduction. We are on a tight budget, but the fireplace is one of the few luxuries we allow ourselves! The existing flue is in the neighborhood of 12" x 12" and is not a straight shot (one bend). Looking down the chimney from the top I can see a number of misaligned tiles. I have researched "squarized" liners (their grammar...not mine) and the cost is steep.
Is there any economical way for me to attack this problem? I have a fair amount of construction experience, but I don't know one wit about flue sizing, etc. My concerns are that I will put in a flue, only to find that (a) it's undersized, or (b) smoke is escaping the smoke chamber below the flue itself and I'm no further ahead.
We have guests arriving in three weeks and I would really like to have this taken care of so we can enjoy our new home with family.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Greg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
hard to say from here , you could call a chimney sweep . personally i would consider lining it and installing an insert you would get much better heat from the wood youve purchased and not have a pnuemonia hole when you dont have a fire going
better yet install an airtight wood stove using the existing masonry chimney to run your stove pipe out
did you have this inspected before you purchased the home ?
snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Get an EPA certfied insert, with a stainless liner to the top (and a little more). You'll quit sucking all the house heat up the chimney, you'll get a lot of heat into the house, and you'll produce a lot less polution. With the glass doors, you also have the visual aspect of the fire.
Another advantage of this combo is that it is easier to clean the round liner than an old chimney. On mine, I take out some metal supportd and a few bricks from the top of the stove, line the bottom of the stove with paper, then run the bruch down from the roof. Most of the crud ends up on the paper to be wadded up and disposed.
I found a used insert and the stainless pipe for $350 on craigslist. It was worth every penny. The blower on mine significantly increases the heat output.
Bob
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

concrete liner is way to go, with that old a home theres no liner just brick and the mortar joints are failing......
DONT use fireplace till this has been fixed severe fire hazard!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.