Chimney fires, lightning strikes and other traumas to the chimney can cause damage to the liner and, in some cases, to the masonry structure itself.Wood, coal and to a lesser degree, oil, fires combust fuel incompletely. The resultant smoke exits the chimney with these unburned particulates in suspension. As the smoke rises, it cools. When it reaches a certain temperature, condensation occurs and the particulates are deposited on the interior of the flue in the form of soot or creosote.Soot, from oil appliances, and creosote, from wood and coal appliances, are the chief culprits in chimney fires. Under the right conditions, these deposits will ignite, sometimes explosively, and burn at very hot temperatures.Terra cotta tile liners will withstand large amounts of heat, but not a rapid rise in temperature. If the rise is severe enough, the liner can crack and in some cases, even develop holes. While the chimney fire may be contained in the first instance, this damage needs to be repaired to be certain that fire protection and proper function are maintained.Lightning strikes can also be the cause of trauma to the chimney. Lightning may enter and exit at the top or travel all the way to the bottom. Again, a damaged tile liner needs to be repaired before the chimney can be considered safe for use.Earthquakes, downed trees and high wind are also documented causes of trauma to a chimney.
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