Chimney & Fireplaces/Flue Problem

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QUESTION: We live in a 35 year old condo which has 27 Units arranged as 9 stacks with 3 units in a stack. Each unit has a  fireplace. The 3 fireplaces in a stack share a common flue. The flues are damaged and so the fireplaces can't be used.

We would like to close off the existing flue so the existing fireplaces can't be used  and put in gas or wood burning fireplace inserts in every unit. However, we have been told that our insurance company requires that the existing flue be totally removed. This by people who have pushed for replacing the flues, a long, messy and costly job.

We would like to know if  total removal is really a requirement for getting insurance or is shutting off the existing flues really satisfactory.

Is there some alternative that could be done, for example at each fireplace, that might well satisfy the fire safety requirements of the insurance company

If total removal is required, then how can we best remove the existing flues?

ANSWER: Hello Milt, not sure what you have there, but it sounds like the Fireplace Chimney are damaged and if so they can not be used for "Gas logs or inserts", find out exactly what your Insurance is requiring then I would have a local Certified Chimney Sweep www.csia.org, (there you can look up by zip code to find one near you) take a first hand look at what you have, they should be able to help determine exactly what you have, need and how to get there, but in most cases, "Pre Fab Fireplaces" like those in 95% of condos have a 25-30 year life, so they might all need replacing.
Hope this helps
James


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: James,

3 fireplaces in a stack share a common damaged flue. They have been checked by experts with cameras. Is it OK to close off flue to assure safety and that it can't be used or must flue be removed?

Is there some alternative that could be done, for example at each fireplace, that might well satisfy the fire safety requirements of the insurance company

If total removal is required, then how can we best remove the existing flues?

Thanks for your help.

Milt

Answer
ok maybe I am not under standing your terminology, a Flue is an air channel that the smoke goes up, I am assuming a Stack is the Chimney the Metal flues run up inside a chimney, a Damper is what you open and close to adjust the air and smoke that goes up the flue.
so if the Stack (exterior chimney) is damaged then maybe a builder/mason can help, if the flue is damaged then a Chimney sweep might be able to change the flue and fireplace unit out (if they are Pre Fab fireplaces and flues as in most condos are) you can only use original replace ement parts but unlikely you could find them for a 35 year old system.
hope this helped
James  

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James Ball

Expertise

I am a chimney sweep with over 22 years of experience, CSIA certified and member of the NCSG, I can answer questions about smoky fire places, wood stoves, and heating units (boiler and furnace chimneys) do you need a relining? A cap? And much more

Experience

over 22 years

Organizations
Chimney Safety Institute of America, National Chimney Sweep Guild

Education/Credentials
CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certified

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