Collapsing metalbestos insulated chimney (C) Daniel Friedman Class A Metal Chimney & Flue Inspection, Diagnosis, Cleaning & Repair Guide
     

  • CLASS A CHIMNEYS, MetalBestos™ - CONTENTS: Class A Metal Chimney & Flue Inspection, Diagnosis, Cleaning & Repair Guide. Insulated Double Wall MetalBestos™ type chimney inspection & repair. Detailed Inspection & Photo Guide to chimney defects. Chimney cleaning & repair advice. Do I need to replace a metal chimney after a chimney fire has occurred? Signs of damage to a metal chimney after a chimney fire. Role of pyrolysis in increasing future fire hazard after a chimney fire
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about Class A Metal Chimneys & Flues
  • REFERENCES

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This article describes how to select, install, and inspect Class-A insulated metal chimneys such as the Insulated Double Wall MetalBestos™ manufactured metal chimney, also called a zero clearance chimney.

These articles on chimneys and chimney safety provide detailed suggestions describing how to perform a thorough visual inspection of chimneys for safety and other defects. Chimney inspection methods and chimney repair methods are also discussed.

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Class A Chimneys - Insulated Double Wall MetalBestos™ type

Collapsing metalbestos insulated chimney (C) Daniel Friedman Metalbestos insulated chimney end view (C) Daniel Friedman

Improper metal chimney installation: As you can see from our photo ( above left), even this superb product can be reduced to shambles when installed by an idiot. The chimney in this photo was not supported, is falling and is unsafe.
See Chimney Collapse Hazards & Chimney Support & Bracing Requirements.

This unfortunate collapsing Class-A type metal chimney was the replacement for the abandoned masonry chimney under the corrugated metal roof we show
at ABANDONED CHIMNEYS, OUTDOORS
and that whose remains we showed
at ABANDONED CHIMNEYS. It looks as if more than one generation of inexpert chimney installers worked in Dover, NY.

Our photo at above right shows an end view of a section of Metalbestos SS All Fuel Chimney™. The fiberglass insulation is not part of the product and was just left stuffed in that opening.

Class-A Insulated double wall all-fuel chimneys such as the MetalBestos model SS All-Fuel Chimney™ are constructed of double walled stainless steel (usually) and include an insulating material (originally asbestos) between the two metal layers. Class A chimneys have been replaced in some jurisdictions with Super Chimneys
or SUPER CHIMNEYS, 629 CHIMNEYS (also called Type 650 C chimneys) which we discuss below.

Class A Chimney sketch (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Carson Dunlop's sketch at left shows a Class "A" chimney, of which our photos are an example.

Metalbestos™ type chimneys are available in different diameters, lengths, and with elbows, caps, and supporting base kits. These chimneys are used often to vent oil fired heating equipment as well as woodstoves and zero-clearance or built-in fireplaces. Our photograph at above left shows an installation leaving the insulated metal chimney exposed on the home exterior.

While these insulated chimneys may be rated for zero clearance from combustibles by the manufacturer, many building codes require at least a one-inch clearance between the chimney and any combustible materials.

Our photo at CHIMNEY CHASE CONSTRUCTION hows a wood-framed chimney chase that might enclose an insulated metal chimney or a Type-B Gas vent chimney.

Class A Chimney Height Requirements

Complete details about chimney height requirements on buildings including Class A Chimneys are now located
at CHIMNEY HEIGHT & CLEARANCE CODE

Class A Chimney Fire Clearance Details

Complete details about Class-A chimney fire clearances indoors can now be read
at FIRE CLEARANCES, METAL CHIMNEYS

Should an Insulated or "Air Cooled" Metal Chimney Be Replaced After a Chimney Fire has Occurred?

Question: What Kind of Inspection Is Required After a Metal Chimney Fire?

I was looking for information on chimney fires, specifically, on how to inspect double wall pipe after such an event. The outside of the outer pipe had paper stickers on it that were not burnt or discolored, so I am assuming the pipe did its job. However the top of the chimney run did catch on fire, presumably from the heat generated from the chimney fire. Anyway, I was looking for a category on how to inspect double wall pipe after a fire. - K.M.

Reply: Inspect for visible flue damage, color changes, movement, cracks; but to be safe: in our opinion you should replace the chimney

After a chimney fire (such as from igniting creosote in a metal flue), a competent onsite chimney inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem. That said, we add the following opinion:

In sum: in our opinion after a chimney fire in an insulated metal chimney or an air-insulated metal chimney the chimney should be replaced entirely in order to be safe and to assure that maximum fire protection for the building is maintained. In addition you should inspect for heat or fire damage to surrounding building components. Details follow.

Some chimney repair companies and building codes cite that "metal chimneys must be inspected after a fire for possible need for replacement". We speculate that the chimney inspector will look for deformed, cracked, metal components, movement, color changes in the stainless steel, or signs of overheating or damage to surrounding building components.

If the metal chimney liner and metal exterior of a multi-wall insulated metal chimney are undamaged, one might think that the internal chimney insulation of a multi-wall insulated metal chimney or flue was intact. But that may not be true. In addition there may be subtle damage to surrounding building components such as pyrolysis that could lower the combustion point and increase the risk of a future fire in nearby wood materials.
See FIRE STOPPING in BUILDINGS

Some sources point out that

Stainless Steel turns blue at 900 degrees causing the chemical makeup of chromium carbide to migrate. After this, the stainless steel will rust and cause corrosion. Stainless Steel really should be replaced after chimney fires over 900 degrees. - REFERENCES

We have observed steel flues that turned blue and also black after a fire.

A "be safe" approach requires that insulated chimneys are replaced after a fire.

We believe that this makes sense because because during a chimney fire the internal temperatures can be extremely high and thus can damage the flue in both obvious and less obvious ways that may not be visible and no one wants to take a chance.

Furthermore, the "after 900 degrees" rule is impractical: - who is actually measuring chimney temperature during a fire? The 900 degF number in our OPINION is not helpful.

Most chimney sources point out that it's common for a chimney fire to reach 2000 degF! Who wants to risk an unsafe flue after a fire when a new fire could still occur and could meet less protection.

A similar example is with earthquake-resistant construction: the construction is designed to keep the building from collapsing and killing the occupants, but it is not expected to prevent any damage whatsoever to the building. So after a quake repairs are going to be needed.

Chimney Safety References:

  • NFPA 211 - Standards for Chimneys & Fireplaces, NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances, 2006 Edition (older editions and standards are found at the same bookstore)
  • NFPA #211-3.1 1988 - Specific to chimneys, fireplaces, vents and solid fuel burning appliances.
  • NFPA # 54-7.1 1992 - Specific to venting of equipment with fan-assisted combustion systems.
  • GAMA - Gas Appliance Manufacturers' Association has prepared venting tables for Category I draft hood equipped central furnaces as well as fan-assisted combustion system central furnaces.
  • National Fuel Gas Code, an American National Standard, 4th ed. 1988 (newer edition is available) Secretariats, American Gas Association (AGA), 1515 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA22209, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Batterymarch Park, Quincy MA 02269. ANSI Z223.1-1988 - NFPA 54-1988. WARNING: be sure to check clearances and other safety guidelines in the latest edition of these standards.
  • Fire Inspector Guidebook, A Correlation of Fire Safety Requirements Contained in the 1987 BOCA National Codes, (newer edition available), Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), Country Club HIlls, IL 60478 312-799-2300 4th ed. Note: this document is reissued every four years. Be sure to obtain the latest edition.
  • Uniform Mechanical Code - UMC 1991, Sec 913 (a.) Masonry Chimneys, refers to Chapters 23, 29, and 37 of the Building Code.
  • New York 1984 Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, Article 10, Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Requirements
  • New York 1979 Uniform Fire Prevention & Building Code, The "requirement" for 8" of solid masonry OR for use of a flue liner was listed in the One and Two Family Dwelling Code for New York, in 1979, in Chapter 9, Chimneys and Fireplaces, New York 1979 Building and Fire Prevention Code:

 

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Or see MANUFACTURED CHIMNEYS

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CLASS A CHIMNEYS, MetalBestos™ at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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