Why Flue Tiles Crack & How to Prevent It
A fireplace is a beautiful feature for homeowners; however, it requires a little work and TLC to ensure it’s safe and efficient. A common chimney problem is cracks in the flue tiles, and in this post, we look at why this happens, how to fix it, and if there’s anything you can do to prevent it.
What Causes Flue Tile Cracks?
Chimney flues are exposed to extremely high temperatures, and if the heat isn’t evenly distributed, tiles expand, causing them to crack or split. Some tiles crack more easily than others; for example, clay tiles don’t absorb heat as well as other flue liners and are subject to wearing down quickly. Many experts recommend installing a metal or cast-in-place liner to replace clay tiles for durability and longevity.
Dangers of Cracked Flue Tiles
A damaged flue liner or cracked tiles creates potentially dangerous situations.
Research conducted by the National Bureau of Standards found that using a fireplace without a chimney liner put homeowners at a significantly greater risk of a house fire than those with adequately lined chimneys. Chimney liners protect the heat in the chimney from transferring to the home’s combustible materials like wood. Cracks in the liner expose your woodwork and other materials to high temperatures, putting you at greater risk of a fire.
Another reason to keep your flue line in good condition is to prevent toxic gases from seeping into your house. The most problematic gas is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, and many people don’t know they have a problem until they feel the physical effects, including dizziness, headache, and nausea. The danger of carbon monoxide is that even a small amount can negatively impact your health and lead to death in extreme cases.
We already discussed the high temperatures your chimney is exposed to every time you use your fireplace. Besides high heat, your chimney is exposed to the combustion byproducts of burning wood or gas. These byproducts can wear down your chimney’s masonry materials if the flue liner is cracked or missing. If this wear and tear go unchecked, it can lead to structural damage, causing the chimney to lean or fall apart.
Poor Fireplace Operation
Finally, a cracked flue liner can cause poor drafting, making your fireplace less efficient.
How to Prevent Flue Tiles From Cracking
Now that you know how vital your flue liner is to your safety and your fireplace’s operation, let’s look at how to prevent it from damage.
- Inspect your flue liner regularly and look for cracks or chips. If you see any damage, have it repaired as soon as possible.
- Make sure that your chimney is adequately ventilated. A lack of ventilation can cause the temperature inside the chimney to become too high, leading to cracking.
- If you do have a crack in your flue liner, don’t use your fireplace until it’s been repaired by a professional. Using the fireplace with a cracked liner can be extremely dangerous and could result in a fire.
How to Fix Cracked Flue Tiles
Most experts agree that if your chimney uses clay tiles, it’s best to replace the whole liner if they become damaged. Replacing a cracked clay tile with another may temporarily remedy the situation, but you’ll soon find yourself in the same boat in a few years. Replacing the liner with metal, like stainless steel, gives you security and peace of mind that your chimney is safe for as long as you use it.
Call the Chimney Experts
Fire N’ Stone is your local chimney and fireplace expert in central New Hampshire. Our technicians are certified, insured, and trained to handle any chimney or fireplace repair. Whether you need chimney cleaning, chimney liner repair or installation, or a chimney rebuild, you can trust us to do the job right the first time because we don’t subcontract out any of our work. And if you require custom stonework, we’ve got you covered.
Call our professionals today at 603-293-4040 or visit our 3,400 square foot showroom at 539 Laconia Rd, Tilton, NH and check out our over 60 built-in fireplaces, inserts, and stoves.