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Newly installed steam boiler/chimney liner requirements


I live in a condo that is part of a 3 unit 1895 stone row house. There is also a basement and attic - and a number of chimneys - some of which are tied into the adjoining building. We just had our steam boiler replaced since the previous one was cracked. The heating company had the town inspector look over the finished installment. The town inspector said the chimney that the boiler is venting to would need to be certified by a chimney company as "safe." We had 8 chimney folks come in - all said it would need to be lined to be safe, but that this particular chimney cannot be lined - because it's too narrow with a number of twists and turns. One very well rated chimney company said they can route the exhaust pipe to a different chimney (about 6 feet away) which runs from the roof to the basement and does not seem to have anything else feeding off of it  - also it's a straight shot. They said they can run a 7" liner all the way to the basement and re-route the piping from the boiler to this other chimney. All the other chimney guys confirmed that a 7" liner would be needed. I had the heating guy confirm verbally with the town inspector that this would be sufficient to sign off on the project. BUT one of the three owners is wanting to get a signed statement from someone - thinking that if we pay the $$$ to have it lined and then for some reason that same inspector decides it's not sufficient, we'll have some recourse... I think she is being extreme, and am getting desperate with the situation as it's been dragging on and winter is approaching. I don't know the BTUs of the boiler and hot water heater that would vent into this, but can anyone weigh in on whether this seems like overkill - to get a heating/HVAC engineer to sign a document stating it's okay, after all (with the exception of one) chimney folks, plus the heating system installer, plus the town inspector have stated verbally that a 7 inch liner is sufficient? The home is in Brookline Massachusetts - in case anyone has any experience in that particular neck of the woods.... Thanks for any help!!!!!


  • Bob HarperBob Harper Posts: 797Member
    No "certification"

    There is no such thing as a chimney "certification" that is recognized by any national standards. There are a lot of contractors foolish enough to sign off on a form stating a chimney is "safe", which is an impossible goal. NOTHING can be totally 100% 'safe'.

    You need a qualified chimney inspector to present a Level II inspection report based upon NFPA 211, chapter 14 which will determine the suitability of the chimneys for the intended application, the need for a liner, type, alloy of stainless steel, sizing, connector configuration, etc. The heating contractor who installed the boiler should be ashamed for doing the installation without the inspection first so you may have recourse against them. The code requirements for the liner sizing should be sufficient. The bldg. owners have to meet the codes, standards and local ordinances-period. No letter is warranted. They would not have recourse against the municipality so the only recourse would be against a contractor and they should not agree to sign any statement of suitability. If it passes the municipal inspection, meets the mfrs.requirements for the heaters, and works, meaning no backdrafting then there is no problem. I would insist upon a certified contractor perform combustion analysis to prove suitable functioning for commissioning. If you common vent a water heater, insist upon modifying it to include a spill switch off a double acting barometric damper. Also confirm adequate makeup air.
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