Ask the Renovator: Does Your Chimney Need a Metal Liner?

Tools forming an energy efficient chimney houseGino Santa Maria – stock.adobe.c

Q Our house was built in 1965 and has a three-pipe indoor chimney, each with terracotta liners. A conduit is unused and was probably installed for a connection to a furnace that was not necessary; the house was built with electric heating. The other pipes go to the first floor and basement chimneys. About 40 years ago, we had wood stoves installed. The installer removed the dampers and fabricated panels to block the top of the fireplace, running the stove pipe through these panels. The chimney has a simplistic cap to stop the entry of most rainwater.

My wife and I used to sweep and seal the chimney, but two years ago we hired someone. When we couldn’t achieve this sweeping last year, we hired another company, but they said they wouldn’t do the job because our chimney doesn’t have a metal liner and isn’t code compliant. They took measurements and promised to send a quote for adding the metal liner. My wife and I cleaned it instead.

Do we have to modernize our chimney to bring it up to code in order to clean it? We understand that we would need to do the work if we sold the house, but we don’t. Most of the houses in our neighborhood are being demolished and replaced with houses three times the size.


A. As long as the clay liners are in good condition, you don’t need metal liners. If I understand correctly, you only have wood stoves, so having clay liners is fine. If you had an oil or gas appliance, you would need a metal liner. A suggestion would be to call a qualified chimney sweep and have the chimney scanned with a camera just to make sure the liners are in good condition. Assuming the clay liners are in good condition, you won’t have to do anything except maintain them.

Q I have 13 9ft x 2ft wooden porch screens that need to be replaced. I hope I can save the screens, but the frames are in bad shape. I can only find aluminum replacements, which I don’t like. Do you have any suggestions?


A. I would try the local outlet stores. There are many in the Boston area that do custom windows and trim for older homes. This is who we would use if we incorporated them into a project.

Mark Philben is Project Development Manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions are subject to change. Subscribe to The Globe’s free property newsletter – our weekly digest on buying, selling and designing – at Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @globehomes.