How to Repair a Fireplace Flue? 

The best way to keep your home safe from the dangers of a fireplace fire is to inspect and repair your chimney flue. This will ensure that your fireplace is operating properly and safely for many years to come. Whether you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, regular maintenance is essential to avoid costly and dangerous repairs down the road. 

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Using the proper fuel types, allowing enough airflow, and removing soot and creosote regularly are the most important steps in maintaining a clean fireplace. If you’re not able to do these things, or if the chimney is old, damaged, poorly constructed, or improperly sized, it’s time to call in a professional to repair your fireplace flue. 

Inspecting the Damper

The damper is located inside of the flue about 1 to 2 feet above the fireplace opening and is used to suck smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide from your stove to prevent a chimney fire. You can easily check this by putting a lighted match or rolled-up newspaper near the top of your stove and watching if you can see flames and smoke being pulled up the chimney. If you can’t, you likely need to replace your damper. 

Remove the Damper

You’ll need to remove your flue damper by turning the bolts counterclockwise with a wrench. It may be necessary to spray the bolts with a rust-penetrating lubricant to get them free. Once they’re off, you can remove the damper by sliding it out of the flue. 

Inspecting the Tile or Metal Liner

If your flue is a clay tile, use a poker to scrape at the surface of the liner to find if it’s full of creosote. The flue needs to be cleaned if you have 1/8-inch or more of this buildup, otherwise, the creosote can cause your chimney to become too hot and cause a chimney fire. 

This is an especially important step for older, wood-burning chimneys that have been exposed to water and/or too much heat. The mortar joints between the tiles can erode and leave gaps that allow moisture and chemicals to enter the flue. This can also cause the tiles to crack or break. 

A professional service can either reline your existing flue or create a new one with poured-cement or metal flue liners. They can also repoint the chimney. 

Reconstructing a Clay Tile Floue

For older, wood-burning chimneys, it’s possible to rebuild a clay tile flue with new clay tiles and mortar joints. This approach is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to improve your chimney’s performance and longevity. It involves removing the top layer of flue tile, replacing the deteriorated mortar, and then placing a new flue liner over the old clay tiles. 

If the flue is too weakened to support a tile liner, a professional can create a new flue with poured-cement liners. This method requires more skill and experience than replacing a clay tile flue, but it can save you money in the long run.