How Long Should Well-Built Chimneys Last?

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If you have a home with a fireplace, then you know the comfort and joy it can bring, especially on cold winter nights. There is nothing quite like a cozy, roaring fire to help cut the chill out and make a house feel like a home.

The problem with fireplaces and chimneys, though, is that they don’t last forever. Knowing whether or not it’s time to consider replacing an old chimney depends first and foremost on the type of chimney you are dealing with and knowing what to look for.

Prefabricated Fireplaces

Most modern fireplaces are prefabricated models that consist of a firebox and a chimney that is metallic on the inside. 

Even when built well, these prefabricated models do not last as long as brick and mortar chimneys. At best, you can expect one of these chimneys to last a couple of decades. Sometimes, maybe even up to 30 years if properly maintained. Considering the fact that this style of a chimney first became a popular construction choice in the 1980s, it’s possible that you are living with an old and worn-down chimney and just are not aware of it.

Brick and Mortar Fireplaces

Just because prefab models are used often now, traditional brick and mortar chimneys are still used, and we prefer them. When built right they are more durable and longer-lasting than their prefabricated cousins. Even though brick can last for generations, mortar does eventually erode and wear away over time, especially in chimneys that are much more open to the elements and the cold. Another factor is that material quality does change over time but knowing what materials are good and what aren’t, can help avoid some costly mistakes. All in all, a well built chimney should last decades and if you keep up on the maintenance along the way you could have your chimney for 50+ years!

How to Tell the Difference

If you don’t know what type of fireplace you have, it is easy to check. While the inside of a prefab fireplace is often made to simulate brick and mortar, touching this or a closer look at it can show you. Also, a quick glance up above the damper is enough to see if the flue is a metal tube. This metal tubing and a metal firebox is a sign you are dealing with a prefabricated chimney. A brick and mortar chimney will be bricks all the way up to a clay flue liner in the firebox. Sometimes you will see a metal liner if the clay liners were damaged at some point but often you see the clay flue liners.

Performing Proper Maintenance

Regardless of the type of chimney you have, proper maintenance is crucial. Getting a chimney inspection annually is the best and easiest way to make sure you are staying safe. When the inspection detects enough buildup, you should also schedule a chimney cleaning by a professional.

An old, run-down fireplace is a serious health hazard that, if not taken care of, can result in serious injury, loss of your house, or even death.

If you’re not sure about the condition of your fireplace and would like to know more about your options moving forward, we are ready to help you. Call Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting at 440-834-8252 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free quote.