Brick chimney without a flue?

I dont think I have encountered this before. A chimney with no flue liner, only a short clay liner out the top. The brick is in bad shape, with cracked mortar and even loose brick. Triple chimney, 1 for furnace, the other 2 for wood burning fireplaces. Customer is concerned he may have to replace the entire chimney. Is is possible/recommended to repair the brick, and line chimney?

See them all the time here. Yes a liner is needed. And yes, corrective action is in order. What needs to be done? You know the drill… Report it & let the chimney professional determine corrective options.

Yup, what Josh said…


I agree with Joshua, we have them here all the time . seen them with out mortar left .
Liners are available. but should be checked for support and so on.

I seen plenty like that. Usually in old homes.

Not good.

This was a 1974 ish home. Was this a “lets do it quickly and get done today” practice, or was this just common practice of the day?
I do intend to call it out, just a first for me.

Lets do it quickly i would say . Mostly found on homes 50’s and later here. they should have known better in the 70’s Perhaps the builder was toking lol

It may very well be that the chimney needs replacing, especially the wood burning fireplaces. I haven’t seen a liner dropped down and connected to a masonry wood burning fireplace. I’m envisioning the damper area and how the transition might be made from the throat of the firebox to the new liner…seems problematic, but I haven’t seen it all.

With adequate repairs and a liner, a fireplace insert may be more possible. Qualified professionals will have additional options.

The way it’s repaired is that they put an inflatable sausage-shaped tube down the chimney and then pump grout around it, which fills in all the holes you describe.

Now why does that sound so dirty lolol

Mortar may be okay. Recommend a Level II inspection. repair can be as Nick described with pumped concrete or a steel liner )depending on configuration). If the chimney is structurally sound, a liner would do the trick. 'Round these parts, around $5k or so.

This is going to need three liners…and they will not be separated by a wythe of brick. Looks like a re-build!!

In Canada, each fireplace must have its own flue.

They are very common all over Michigan and Ohio. I did a fire investigation in Michigan that started at a 1980s vintage masonry chimney. An ember escaped into an interior wall through a gap in the chimney mortar. The house was a total loss. I don’t investigate chimney fires but the the C&O investigator noticed a section of missing NM cable in the upstairs bedroom, directly above the fireplace so he called me in. I quickly ruled out electrical. He found the cause while I was still on the scene. The chimney remained standing but everything around it was destroyed.

See it all the time in Kansas City / Usually in older homes (1900-1950).

Refer them to masonry specialist or chimney specialist for recommendations for repair, relining, etc and keep moving.

Also observe the quality of flashing installation at chimney/roof deck. Water intrusion can deteriorate non-visible mortar.

Neighbors chimney…my house…Tuesday. They’re getting a new roof/tear-off done by “friends” (unlicensed roofers).

Dan, same here.

It is really amazing that home inspectors have yet to learn to observe, document, refer, present, let the buyer decide. Most all inspectors try to be experts at everything, which may be OK, however most buyers do not need to know how to fix something. When you explain how to fix something, contractors may want to do it differently; then that is where you get the grief, phone calls, and time wasted.

In the last 18 months, I have never received a call for a question about a defect that I found. I have received calls about lenders wanting receipts. That is all. And calls from Dan B.

Level II inspections involve chim-cams after the chimney has been thoroughly swept.

With a 360 degree rotation and descent and acsent, the camera and experienced operator will detect gaps in mortar, cracks in flues, spalled bricks, and a myriad of other defects.

THAT is why I put the following in each and every inspection report I prepare:



Thanks Joe, for clearing that up. Great examples.

Inspectors are looking for a competitive edge these days, but trying to explain how to fix something in detail to the home buyer is not where it is at, IMHO. Getting a call to assist the buyer in a contractor choice after several estimates of the defect are received shows to you that you are a true professional, over and above contractors. I try to play it that way.

Remember we are all generalists (general doctors) and not specialists (heart doctors).


You mean like this… (also in my reports)



Joe these are all some great examples you gave, I may have to “borrow” them if it is ok.