It’s not always easy or possible to find out if it had oil heat in the past. However, if you do know that the house had oil before and is heated by gas today, the chimney should be a concern; if you’re buying a home or own one and don’t know whether the chimney has been relined properly, this is also a concern for you.
Years ago when people converted from oil to gas heat they didn’t worry about the chimney. They just changed their heating system and left it at that. This is the problem.
Oil heat produces sulfur deposits inside the chimney while gas heat produces water vapor. Remember high school chemistry? When you mix water with sulfur you create acid and that acid is very caustic. It’s corrosive action over the years can severely damage a chimney and this can become a very unsafe condition.
Today regulations are in place that require a conversion from oil to gas to include relining the chimney; a while ago no such regulations existed. As a result, a large number of oil to gas heat conversions never included chimney relining. Correcting this damage can be more than a little expensive.
Here’s what to do –
Have an excellent chimney contractor do a thorough inspection as a follow up to your home inspection when buying a house and if you own a home and haven’t done this, do it now (unless, of course, the chimney has been properly relined already). You might be shocked by what you discover.
Craig Sharf of HomeTeam Inspections (201-297-4460) advised a buyer of mine to do a follow up chimney inspection on a colonial in River Edge. While Craig found the exterior to be in great shape his visual inspection of the inside concerned him. He advised us to call in Advanced Chimney Their inspection showed that the entire interior needed to be rebuilt; together with a new liner; the cost exceeded $7,000. Relining the chimney was only $1,700.
So be pro active – discuss getting a follow up chimney inspection with your home inspector when buying a home and if you own a home and don’t know for sure that your chimney has been properly relined and maintained, have a good contractor inspect it.