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Lack of chimney lining could be fire hazard

Combustion danger greater in older home

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Q: Not long ago you answered a question from a reader about fireplace chimneys. You talked at length about dampers, but you did not mention the need for a chimney liner. My house is 1906 vintage, and a chimney sweep recently told me that I had a serious hazard because of not having a lining. Evidently buildings constructed before 1924 did not have them. Any comments? A: In the early part of the past century, fireplaces were really heaters. The fuel was usually coal, but these fireboxes would support a small wood fire. The next time an opportunity presents itself, take a good look at a firebox in a Victorian-era building. What you'll see is a shallow firebox with an angled back wall. The heat produced by a small coal or wood fire was deflected into the room rather than up the chimney, as would be the case with a deeper firebox. We're not surprised that a 1906 home is equipped with an unlined masonry chimney. Widespread use of flue liners did not occur until later. The lack of a lin...