Chimney Sweep

Ask the Remodeler: Does your chimney want a metallic liner?

Tools forming a house with energy efficiency chimneyGino Santa Maria – stock.adobe.c

Q. Our house was built in 1965 and has an interior chimney with three flues, each with clay liners. One flue is unused and was probably installed for a connection to a furnace that was not needed; the home was built with electric heat. The other flues go to fireplaces on the first floor and in the basement. About 40 years ago we had wood stoves installed. The installer removed the dampers and fabricated panels to block off the top of the fireplace, putting the stove pipe through those panels. The chimney has a simplistic cap to stop the entry of most rainwater.

My wife and I used to do the chimney cleaning and resealing, but two years ago we hired someone. When we could not reach that sweep last year, we hired another company, but they said they would not do the work because our chimney does not have a metal liner and is not up to code. They took measurements and promised to send a quote for adding the metal liner. My wife and I cleaned it instead.

Are we required to retrofit our chimney to bring it up to code in order to get it cleaned? We understand that we would need to do the work if we were selling the house, but we are not. Most of the homes in our neighborhood are being torn down and replaced with houses three times their size.


A. As long as the clay liners are in good shape, you do not need metal liners. If I am reading this correctly, you have only wood stoves, so having clay liners is fine. If you had an oil- or gas-burning appliance going into one, you would need a metal liner. One suggestion would be to call a qualified chimney sweep and have a chimney scan done with a camera just to ensure the liners are in good shape. Assuming the clay liners are in good shape, you will not need to do anything but maintain them.

Q. I have 13 9-by-2-foot wooden front porch screens that need to be replaced. I hope I can save the screens, but the frames are in tough shape. I can find only aluminum replacements, which don’t appeal to me. Do you have any suggestions?


A. I would try local mill shops. There are many in the Boston area that do custom windows and trim for older houses. That is who we would use if we were incorporating them into a project.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to Questions are subject to editing. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.

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