The Warning Signs That It’s Time for Chimney Repair Oxford

Chimney problems and some warning signs that you need your chimney repaired

A chimney is an integral feature of most properties, particularly older ones.  In years gone by, the chimney was one of the most important parts of a property because it facilitated the generation of heat for warmth and cooking. Nowadays, chimneys in the UK are mostly used for wood-burning or gas stoves or open fires as back up heat in the winter months and to provide a welcoming ambience in a room. Also, in many properties, they are left unused, or taken down if no longer used. A chimney, as part of a property, has to be maintained and looked after correctly whether it is being used or not. If a chimney is being used with a stove or open fire, it needs to be regularly maintained.  A regular sweeping is an important part of a good chimney maintenance programme. For expert chimney repair Oxford advice, please call Turner Baker on 01865 236763.

It is recommended that you have your chimney swept at the following intervals for the different fuel types shown:

  • Smokeless fuel: At least once a year
  • Wood – Quarterly when in use
  • Bituminous coal – Quarterly when in use
  • Oil – Once a year
  • Gas – Once a year

Chimneys and flues can deteriorate or get damaged over time just like any other part of your property.  Below are some signs that you need chimney repair Oxford.

Common Chimney Problems

When you light your fire or stove, you can smell smoke in adjoining rooms

If you can smell smoke in other rooms when your fire is lit, it is likely that your flue, which is the pipe running up inside the chimney, is leaking.  It is important to remember that the inside of your chimney is liable to degrade with age and use in much the same way as the external structure does.

The main solution to protecting the internal structure of your chimney or flue and to ensure that it is safe to use is to have it professionally lined.

You’ve had a chimney fire

Some people have a chimney fire in their property and know nothing about it at all.  Slow burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or fuel to be dramatic or visible but they can still cause substantial damage.

Temperatures can reach 1,100 degrees Celsius during a chimney fire.  The effect of this is that heat is radiated through walls and any sparks could ignite flammable materials, such as wooden beams, that may be nearby.

Even if you can’t see any damage on the chimney breast, it is highly likely that damage will have occurred inside the chimney following a chimney fire.  If you have a stainless steel flue liner in your chimney, the liner will need to be replaced as the crystalline structure of the steel changes and it will corrode very quickly if you continue to try and use it.  Stainless steel is also prone to buckling and changing shape when exposed to very high temperatures.

Other liners such as a concrete, pumice or Furanflex liner would need to be thoroughly checked with a CCTV inspection carried out by a professional before being used again following a chimney fire.

You have bits of masonry falling into the fireplace

Where a chimney is constructed from brick, the bricks may degrade and crumble over time and it is likely that the mortar in between the bricks will degrade as well.  Any sign of degradation of the internal brickwork means that the chimney will have to be lined.

This is because the flue may leak smoke into another room in the property.  Also, smoke will travel most efficiently through a smooth flue, so to get the best performance from your open fire or multi fuel stove or wood burner the smoke needs to exit via the flue as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Any lumps and bumps caused by the uneven bricks on the way up through the flue will slow down the flow of the smoke; the smoke will cool and leave deposits on the side of the flue.  This is not good.  A build up will quickly occur and increase the risk of a chimney fire.

Smoke billows down into the room instead of being drawn up into the flue

There could be a blockage in the chimney.  The first thing to do is to get the chimney swept by a Guild of Master Sweeps or NACS accredited chimney sweep.  Chimneys need to allow the free passage of hot flue gasses containing dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere at a higher elevation.  Regular sweeping will remove soot, birds’ nests, cobwebs and any other blockages,  which will help to prevent chimney fires.

Any blockage in a gas flue could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.  Whilst gas flues are often smaller and do not attract the attention of birds for example, it is not unusual for something as small as a spiders web to cause a significant blockage. It is therefore important that gas flues are swept at least once a year.

Structural damage to the chimney stack

Smoke contains acidic compounds which, when deposited onto the masonry of the flue, can attack the mortar and masonry weakening the structure of the whole chimney.

This, combined with water penetration from the weather and fracturing from frosts, can leave a chimney stack in a very unstable state. The result could be either damage to the faces of some of the brickwork, the loosening of a few bricks, or the collapse of the entire chimney stack.

Additionally, it is important to remember that the inside of your chimney is liable to degrade with age and use in much the same way as the external structure does.  If your chimney and flue is very old and has been used to burn coal in the past it may also have issues with salt deposits, which continue to wear away at the brickwork long after being deposited.

More information on different types of chimney problem can be found here.

Chimney Repair Oxford

Solutions for Chimney Problems

The main solution to protecting the internal structure of your chimney or flue and to ensure that it is safe to use is to have it professionally lined.

A flue liner is, in simple terms a tube that fits down inside an existing chimney or even an existing flue in an older property.  Flue liners are available in many different materials including stainless steel, pumice, silica polymer and thermosetting resin.

Flue liners are obligatory for new build properties in accordance with building regulations Document J.  This means that if you are building a new property with a chimney that you intend to use for heating purposes then it must be suitably lined.

Flue Liners 

Furanflex liners from Turner Baker

A relative newcomer to the market is the Furanflex thermosetting resin lining system.  In laymen’s terms this refers to a liner that is supplied as a soft malleable material which can be inserted into a chimney and which is then steamed or ‘cured’ into a hardened structure that is resistant to heat and high temperatures. The Furanflex liner was introduced to the UK in 2010 following a rigorous testing programme to ensure that the product met UK standards. The product has been certified by BBA (British Board of Agreement see website here

There are many benefits to using a Furanflex lining system.   Firstly, the product is installed as a flexible tube.  For properties with chimneys that have bends in them – and this is certainly the case for a lot of older properties – this is a great benefit. The liner can be installed freestanding and it can mould to take the existing shape of the chimney which maximises the cross-sectional area of the flue.   Various other lining systems are a set shape and may reduce the size of the flue which in turn affects performance. Additionally, the Furanflex liner doesn’t adhere itself to the chimney and can therefore be removed if necessary.  This makes it an ideal option for heritage properties with listing restrictions which won’t allow for permanent changes to the structure.

The Furanflex lining system is guaranteed for 25 years.  In the event of a chimney fire – systems such as stainless steel will need to be replaced before a flue can be used again.  The Furanflex system is able to withstand very high temperatures – and in theory should be able to withstand a chimney fire.  However, any flue that has suffered from a chimney fire should always be inspected along its length prior to being reused.

Stainless steel flue liners from Turner Baker

The entry point into chimney and flue linings is stainless steel.

Stainless steel can be available in either a flexible format (to accommodate bends in the chimney or flue) or as a rigid piece. Flexible stainless steel liners are supplied as one long piece whereas rigid stainless steel is supplied in sections which are slotted together.

Flexible stainless steel flue liners are available from Turner Baker Ltd for either multi fuel stoves or for gas and oil appliances.

The Positives and Negatives of Stainless Steel Liners


  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Can be installed as  a freestanding unit either on the inside or outside of a property
  • Can be used to refurbish existing flues


  • Short lifespan – many stainless steel liners are only guaranteed for 10 years
  • Will not withstand any chimney fire
  • Can corrode rapidly with the use of certain fuels
  • Easy to damage on installation

Pumice Flue Liners from Turner Baker         

Isokern Flue Pumice is a natural insulator. This is the unique property that separates pumice from all other chimney materials.

The insulating properties of Pumice allow the flue gases in the chimney to quickly reach their optimum temperature enabling the heating appliance to reach its optimum performance shortly after lighting.

It also keeps the chimney warmer longer as the heat output of the appliance decreases – once again aiding performance and reducing the likelihood of condensation and soot build-up.


The Isokern Double Module block system is a high quality chimney system, used extensively in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. The double wall system maintains flue gas temperatures while preventing heat transference to the outer casing. The separation of the inner and outer components also allows for thermal movement, reducing the risk of cracking and subsequent leaking or staining. It is simple and quick to build. The Double Module is available in 3 outer casing sizes and is ideally suited to new builds and constructing entirely new flues and chimney stacks.


The Isokern flue liner range consists of over 17 different sizes. They can be used for new build, extensions and relining existing chimneys.

Please call Turner Baker Ltd on 01865 236763 if you are interested in any of these lining products and we will be happy to advise you on the system that is right for you.

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