The Rumford Store
Metal Chimneys
"Twice the expense and half the value of real masonry chimneys"

Metal chimneys are not always more expensive than masonry chimneys but, in the large sizes, they tend to be. When installed within a wooden chase, metal chimneys take up more room, invite maintenance problems, don't look as good and don't last as long as masonry chimneys. No matter what you do to camouflage a metal chimney, it's still perceived as a fake chimney in the words of architect, Jeremiah Eck. And you can't add a Clay Chimney Pot or an unlisted Decorative Shroud on top of a metal chimney.

So, why would anyone use a metal chimney to vent a masonry fireplace?

There are only two - well three - legitimate reasons we can think of.

  • Didn't plan ahead and have to support the weight of the fireplace and chimney on the third floor without having built a proper masonry foundation.

  • Have to offset the chimney fourteen feet and, again, haven't constructed a masonry foundation to support the chimney.

  • Really like the high-tech look of a bare stainless steel chimney. (There's no accounting for taste.)
Other reasons for specifying metal chimneys are usually based on false assumptions. Here are some facts:
  • Masonry chimneys are often less expensive than large metal chimneys in wooden chases.
  • Masonry chimneys last 100 years longer than metal chimneys.
  • Masonry chimneys are permitted by code and perform well in seismic areas (see "Seismic Issues And Masonry chimneys")
  • Masonry chimneys take up less space and are easier to squeeze into smaller spaces.*

    *Generally, metal chimneys are not as "flexible" as masonry chimneys. That may sound oxymoronic but you can slope a masonry chimney at any angle up to the code limit of 30 degrees whereas metal chimneys are generally limited to 15 deg and 30 deg angles. And you can build a masonry chimney smaller in one direction by building it larger in the other - for example, if a 16"x16" flue (24"x24" chimney) won't fit between trusses on 24" centers, you could build a 20" by 28" chimney that would fit with a 12" by 20" flue made from two 12"x12" flues with the sides cut out to make a single, two-part liner.

    Add to that "flexibility" the fact that masonry generally costs less than large metal chimneys and it lasts 100 years instead of 20 years, and you have a clear choice in favor of masonry.

  • And finally, you can't add a Clay Chimney Pot or an unlisted Decorative Shroud on top of a metal chimney.
Call 360 385 9974 or email buckley@rumford.com to discuss these issues as they relate to your job.

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