New Designer Fireplace in Historic Irvington District

New Designer Fireplace in Historic Irvington District

The state of this chimney and fireplace was too severely damaged to repair. The chimney suffered from saturation decay and the masonry below grade was severely deteriorated from the gas emissions of the furnace. There was no liner, causing gas emissions to vent through the chimney which could potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The chimney had to be completed removed and replaced. The chimney has now been rebuilt, reinforced with rebar and tied to the structure of the house at the joist using chimney straps. 

Salvaging the existing fireplace tile surround would be tricky, the customers decided to have the fireplace tile re done at this time as well. They selected this gorgeous custom tile from Pratt & Larson. 

Take a look at the the before and after photos. 

Our customers are very happy! They now have a structurally sound, functional and BEAUTIFUL fireplace to enjoy for the holidays and many many years to come!

Thinking of remodeling your fireplace? Give us a call for an estimate. We would be happy to make your dreams come true! 503-758-4710.

Fireplace BEFORE remodel.
Chimney BEFORE remodel.
Chimney AFTER rebuild.
Fireplace AFTER remodel.

Chimney Liner Options Explained for the Homeowner

Homeowners often get confused when they hear that their chimney needs to be relined.

The first thought that may come to mind is, “What the heck does that mean?”  This writer will attempt to explain – in laymen’s terms – what relining is, why it may be needed, and all of the options available so that you can make an informed decision about your chimney repair.

Simply put, relining means installation of a new flue liner.  However, the process is far from a simple undertaking and requires a professional to do the installation work.

If you have been told that your chimney needs to be relined, the reason may be that the flue liner is damaged, misaligned, missing mortar joints, it is sized incorrectly, or that there is no flue liner at all.

Flue liners have been required since 1927 by code to serve two purposes: First, to allow for the smooth passage of smoke and toxic flue gasses to exit the home without restriction, and second, to reduce the exterior temperature of the chimney during use.

Flue liner damage may, and often does, occur during a chimney fire, lightning strike, foundation movement, or piering (moving the chimney back into position and installing piers to hold it in place).

Over time, flue mortar joints exposed to rain and acidic flue gasses deteriorate and disappear altogether. Gaps in the liner due to any of these damages can be a serious hazard.

After a qualified professional chimney contractor has evaluated your particular chimney, s/he will offer one of the following methods for relining:


Vitreous Clay Tile Chimney Flue Liners

These have been used since the 1900’s and are a readily available and relatively inexpensive construction material. Tile flue chimney liners crack when there is a temperature differential of 500 degrees (as during a chimney fire), and will eventually soften and spall especially if exposed to condensation in a gas flue.

At the time of original construction, the mason installs the tiles ahead of the masonry surrounding them which allows him to make certain that the tiles are straight and the joints are smooth.

Relining with tile is difficult, if not impossible, to do except for very short sections.  For this reason, very few contractors will offer this option. If the option is offered be sure to ask how they are going to do the installation, what equipment is used, and how much masonry will need to be removed from your chimney in order to access the interior.

In some cases, it is impossible to reline with tile without tearing down all or part of the chimney, and that is why most chimney technicians offer to reline with steel instead.


Stainless Steel Chimney Liner

Stainless Steel chimney flue liners are a more modern product.  All stainless steel flue liners are U.L. listed or tested to U.L. 1777 Standards, which means that they have been subjected to a series of tests including three 10-minute 2100-degree burns.

Steel flue liners will withstand exposure to a chimney fire of short duration, but can become damaged in long-burning fires. Steel liners come as rigid or flexible, and in different grades i.e. 304 grade stainless, which is very heavy, or 361 Titanium/stainless steel, which is lightweight, yet sturdy.  Your chimney technician will know which type is best for your particular application.

Most flexible steel liners can be custom-shaped to fit the flue as well.

Most also require the addition of insulation in the form of foil-faced ceramic wool blanket or Thermix insulation. This keeps the liner warmer and reduces heat transfer to surrounding masonry. With the proper amount of insulation a “zero clearance” installation can be achieved.  This is important if combustible materials nearby do not have proper clearances.

Removal of the original tile flue liner is often necessary in order to gain the necessary room for a properly sized flue liner.  Anytime a liner is inserted inside the old liner it is “downsized,” or smaller than the old liner.

The interior dimensions of the flue liner are critical to the operation of a fireplace or wood or gas appliance, and if too small or too large will not draft or function properly.

The International Residential Code indicates specific liner sizes which must be adhered to.

Unfortunately, not all chimney technicians have the equipment needed to remove tile flue liners, so it is important to check the liner size before it is installed.

The typical flue liner serving an open wood-burning fireplace should be 1/10th the size of the fireplace opening dimensions. In most cases, stainless steel will be the first, or only option offered due to its popularity.


Cast-in-Place or Ceramic Chimney Flue Liners

Cast-in-Place or Ceramic Chimney Flue Liners are the best, and consequently the most expensive liners available today.  Cast liners are listed or tested to U.L. 1777 Standards and for zero-clearance applications.

The benefits of this type of liner are that it can be sized exactly to the appliance it will be serving, can be used for multiple-flues in the same chimney, and actually strengthens the chimney.

Cast liners are installed by using a heavy rubber tube which is inflated inside the chimney.  A mix is poured around the tube and left to cure overnight. While the mix is poured it seeps into holes or cracks in the chimney which strengthens the structure. The next day, the tube is deflated and removed, leaving a hard, ceramic flue liner.

No matter what type of flue liner you decide to use, if you do not feel comfortable with the liner option offered by your chimney technician, get a second opinion.

Be sure to do your research on the company you take advice from and check their website for information on their years in business, methods of relining offered, and their training, certifications, and licensing.

For more details on each type of flue liner see my other articles on


NFPA Level 2 Inspection and Cleaning

Hire a certified chimney inspector from Portland Fireplace and Chimney to perform an NFPA Level 2 inspection and cleaning on your fireplace and chimney. This is a 24 point inspection complete with photos of your system, a resultant condition report of your system and an estimate for repairs if there are any needed. Once the inspection is complete, you will know the exact status of your fireplace and chimney and can make an informed decision on the best course of action to have a safe and functioning fireplace for you and your family to enjoy.

Portland Fireplace and Chimney Inc. Commercial

Protect your home and investment with quality craftsmanship from Portland Fireplace and Chimney Inc. We take a “fix it right the first time” approach. Select an established chimney professional that knows the fireplace and chimney building and safety codes.

Are you looking for a reputable, locally owned company with a history of professional service and customer satisfaction? Portland Fireplace and Chimney Inc. provides outstanding service to thousands of customers every year. We have been serving the Portland-Vancouver area since 2007.

Portland Fireplace and Chimney Inc services the greater Portland metro area. We are your one stop shop contractor for everything fireplace. We start by performing NFPA 211 inspections and cleaning service. Then we take the time to educate you about the history of your home related to your fireplace. We provide the highest quality inspections by getting in the attic, crawlspace and taking at least 25-30 high resolution photos and a video camera inspection of the interior firewall as necessary. All to ensure your education of three vital aspects of a chimney in the PNW.

Signs your chimney needs cleaning

We do cleaning as part of a NFPA Level 2 24 point inspection complete with photos of your system, a resultant condition report of your system, and an estimate for repairs if there are any needed. This way you know the exact status and can make an informed decision regarding what is needed to be able to have a safe and functioning fireplace.

Call us today at 503-758-4710 to schedule a inspection and cleaning.

Unreinforced Masonry: Christchurch 2011

We would like to share this video on unreinforced masonry. The sad truth is that this information also applies to all of our customers living in older homes with unreinforced masonry chimney’s and unreinforced masonry veneer.  You could be at hight risk if you are living underneath a unreinforced masonry veneer or unreinforced masonry chimney.

Call us today at  503-758-4710 to have your masonry reinforced with rebar to meet seismic codes and protect your home, loved ones and those around you.


Hearth and Chimney Safety

Chimney fires are a serious matter, and can cause hundreds, if not thousands, of
dollars in property damage. In the last three years, approximately 72,500 chimney fires
occurred in the United States, causing about $92 million in property damage and
resulting in 30 deaths.

Louisa County Chase Fire



In November of 2013, a chimney fire damaged a home in Louisa County.  The fire was not catastrophic only because some residents were home and awake. This fire was caused by a wood stove being placed too close to combustibles (OSB, Oriented strand board … similar to particle board). The
combustibles were behind a stone facing, which is a common problem. Many people
think stone acts as a heat barrier. In fact, stone is a very good conductor of heat and the
heat was simply transferred to the board underneath, which spontaneously caught fire
after a process called pyrolysis lowered the combustion temperature of the wood.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure proper clearances! When a
manufacturer refers to a “heat shield” or “protected surface” it means a noncombustible
material with a 1″ air space between the combustible and the heat shield — it must be
open on 3 sides or at the top and the bottom allow air to freely circulate behind the heat

While there are many possible factors contributing to any chimney fire, the most
common is the buildup of creosote, whether glazed or powdery, which results from
incomplete combustion of a wood fire. In addition to burning well-seasoned wood in a
responsible fashion, it’s important for homeowners to make sure to have the chimney
and fireplace cleaned and inspected each year by a certified hearth professional. Not
only will the sweep make sure that the chimney is clear of creosote and other buildup,
but he or she can provide information about any damage (loose pipes, damaged
masonry, etc) which may interfere with the safe, efficient operation of wood-burning

Laurelwood Condominium Fire


Damage to the three units was catastrophic. All three had to be completely gutted and
rebuilt. In early February of 2012, several units in the Laurelwood Condominiums at
Wintergreen Resort were damaged by what initially appeared to be a chimney fire.
Investigators later determined the fire to have been the result of sparks coming from the
firebox and getting into a gap between the firebox and hearth extension in one of the
units. A protective metal strip was not installed as required by code and the
manufacturer. Wooden Sun has been retroactively removing the hearth and installing
the missing metal strips, a costly but necessary repair.

Installing fireplaces safely is important! Make sure to check the required clearances to
combustibles for your wood-burning appliance, use adequate hearth protection
(insulated hearth pad, stone hearth, etc), and never leave an open fire unattended.
Additionally, a spark guard or screen door can keep burning embers in your fireplace where they belong, rather than on your carpet or furniture. Finally, always remove fireplace ash to a metal container, rather than plastic or wood, and never place the container on a combustible floor after removing ashes. Embers can remain hot for days, and any ashes should be treated as though they had burning embers in them.

Thanks to