I have been researching chimney lining to determine whether this huge
expense is really necessary. (Most houses this is not a huge expense, for us
it is $2500 per chimney, plus everything ends up costing at least twice what
is originally quoted, so we are probably looking at $10K).
We have a house with two masonry chimneys. They were built or rebuilt
anytime between 1850 and 1994.They both burn wood. People were living in
this house from 1836 through 2004 and using the fireplaces without anyone
dying. Being that the house is 170 years old, it is not sealed like new
houses. We use radiated heat (not forced air). We moved the house in 2006
(jacked it up, put it on a truck moved it and placed it on a new foundation).
The chimneys are at least two courses of brick thick, maybe more.
What I am told is that:
1. The chimney could be leaking due to cracks in the mortar from the move,
or from the gases in the smoke eating away the mortar. It seems that this
can be determined by placing CO2 detectors all along and below the chimney
and building a fire. If the chimney is leaking, the detectors will pick it
2. The gases from the woodsmoke will eat away at the mortar and block the
flue and you will go to sleep and never wake up. This makes no sense to me
at all. Eating away at the mortar will not block the flue. Besides, if the
flu was blocked, you would know it right away when the house filled up with
smoke (just like when you make a fire without opening the damper). I can
see right up the chimney when the damper is open. There is no blockage (at
least not since i removed the debris from when they removed the chimney tops
for the house move).
I am looking for some realistic and practical advice. Paranoid statements
like "Do not use the fireplace or everyone in your house will die" are not
helpful. There are hundreds of houses of nearly the same age with unlined
chimneys in our area and no one has died from fireplace fumes, at least not
in the past 50 years.
We have smoke detectors in every room of the house and we are placing CO2
detectors all over the chimney as well as below the chimney 9in the basement
I suspect that CO2 may be heavier than air), and leaving them there. We also
will not leave fires burning at night.
My question is whether using CO2 detectors is a reasonably safe way to
determine whether there are any leaks and to monitor for the possibility of
leaks in the future.