Switching Fireplace Fuel Type Can Lead to Spalling of the Flue
If you have decided to change your traditional fireplace, you may have also decided to switch out the appliance for one that burns a different fuel. Many homeowners today are having gas-fueled fireplaces installed. Gas fireplaces are popular primarily because they are incredibly convenient to get started when you’re ready for a fire. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) cautions homeowners that there is a potential danger to switching the fuel used in a fireplace. The most common problem that occurs when a wood-burning fireplace is changed to a gas-fueled fireplace is that corrosion leads to spalling of the flue liner. Spalling is when stone, rock, brick, or concrete breaks off in fragments.
Chimney Flue Corrosion
The operation of a gas fireplace is quite different from a wood-burning fireplace, and part of the difference is how the chimney is affected. Gases are produced by gas appliances, and those gases can create corrosion in the flue lining. The corrosion eats away at chimney linings, although there are usually no visible signs of the damage for a long while.
Part of the problem is that the flue is too large for the appliance. During the combustion process, water vapor is produced. If the flue of an appliance is too large, the water vapor fails to exit the chimney quickly because there is a lack of heat that is needed for a proper draft.
When the heat isn’t sufficient to remove the water vapor from the flue lining, the moisture condenses and form acids. The condensation is acidic and can cause a flue to crack and begin to crumble. The debris created by a damaged liner can obstruct the chimney, which creates a carbon monoxide hazard. Carbon monoxide is referred to as the “silent killer” because it is odorless, invisible, and deadly, if a person is exposed to the poisonous fumes for too long. Toxic carbon monoxide can leak into the home through gaps and cracks in the liner.
Draft problems with the chimney increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning because combustion is incomplete, which is what produces the toxic fumes.
Avoiding Flue Corrosion
The potential problem of corrosion in your flue can be avoided if you have your new appliance installed by one of our chimney professionals. Our technicians understand the importance of ensuring that specific venting requirements of a gas fireplace be met. When a flue is too large for an appliance, the best solution is to have a new stainless steel chimney liner installed that is the appropriate size for the appliance. By installing a liner that is the proper size, you are assured that the appliance can vent properly and the issue of corrosion caused by condensation is eliminated.
Gas Fireplace Insert
Installing a gas fireplace insert in your traditional fireplace is an upgrade that will help you cut the costs of heating in winter. If you are considering an upgrade, contact our professionals for help selecting your new gas fireplace insert. Have your new appliance professionally installed, to avoid spalling and other problems associated with a poor draft and acidic condensation in your flue liner.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110