Broken flue due to new oil burner installation?

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Old 04-03-17, 02:18 PM
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Broken flue due to new oil burner installation?

I'm helping a friend with her chimney problem.

She hired a contractor in December (5 months ago) to replace her home oil burner. I noticed yesterday during a visit that there was efflorescence on chalky material on the outside of the chimney, as well as a lot of multi-colored wet runoff on the basement wall below the oil burner pipe connection. These are dramatic changes since December, when I saw it and it was normal. See photo below.

The chimney has an 8x8 inch original flue with no liner that serves the oil burner. The chimney cap is complete with no cracks, and the flues both have raincaps. The chimney to roof flashing was redone when the roof was replaced 5 years ago, and it looks correct. The replaced oil burner was the original when the house was built in 1980.

So it's obvious that the flue is broken (or could it be that perhaps the new oil burner pipe is not properly attached to the flue behind the basement wall?).

Questions:
1. Where is the water coming from? Some spots on the basement wall are wet to the touch! Could the new oil burner put more water vapor in the flue gas? Or did the humidity level of the flue gas stay same but the water coming from condensation as the flue gas excapes from the broken flue and hits the cold chimney bricks?

2. Should I blame this breakage on oil burner installation team?

Thanks! Andy

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Old 04-03-17, 05:06 PM
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More photos

Here are two more photos:
- Looking down the flue from the roof
- Exterior of chimney

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Old 04-03-17, 06:15 PM
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It looks to me like the chimney is just plain old. New furnaces run at a much lower exhaust temperature than did those from the 50's. The effervescence you see is likely due to condensing flue gasses. If the oil burner is going into an unlined chimney, it certainly should not but if the photo is the flue into which the oil burner goes, it is lined. Without seeing how the pipe enters the chimney, there's no way to tell if it is installed correctly or not. BTW, it is not unusual to see liner sections not perfectly aligned.
 
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Old 04-03-17, 07:55 PM
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I see an ash cleanout hatch which means a double chimney.
Were you looking down the oil burner side ?

It may be best to call a chimney guy in to look over the chimney.
 
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Old 04-03-17, 09:01 PM
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Thanks to Grady and Pete

Grady and Pete, thanks for your replies!

In answer to your questions, there are two flues, and the second is a fireplace flue with the cleanout door that appears in the photo. No issues with that flue, and I wrote about just the oil burner flue. My picture looking down from the top is of the oil burner flue.

I wrote that the oil burner is “unlined”, but I didn't use the right words. What I meant was that it has no stainless steel insert liner. It was built in 1980 and has the standard 2-foot ceramic liner sections. As to looking “just plain old”, I'm guessing that the 1980 mason bought used bricks or perhaps “purposefully old looking” bricks.

Grady, thanks for your comment that the mis-aligned liner sections are typical. Yikes!

My plan:
  • Research this a little more with you guys, so that I really understand what happened and what I need to do!
  • Ask the oil burner installation contractor to look at it. And ask a chimney expert to look at it (as you suggest, Pete).
  • Install a stainless steel liner (with a town permit).
  • Pressure wash the interior basement wall and chimney exterior spots.
  • Repoint brick joints that show cracks or where efflorescence appeared.
  • Ask the oil burner company to re-set the mixture, what with different airflow with the SS liner.
Questions:
  • Is this the right plan? Am I missing anything?
  • Should I blame the oil burner installer? Or was this a completely separate event that happened to occur just after the new burner was installed?
  • Should I lower a 6-inch diameter object down the flue to assure it will fit, due to the mis-aligned flue sections, before I buy the SS insert? How do you guys normally figure what diameter will fit?
  • Should the SS insert liner be "insulated"?
  • Will a SS insert liner solve the condensation problem? i.e. will there be no further drainage down the interior basement wall?
 
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Old 04-04-17, 01:37 PM
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Sorry, when I first read the initial post, I thought the house was built in the 50's not 80's. The chimney is not "old".

I would get the furnace installer back to look at the pipe installation. No need to point any blame fingers at this point. A stainless liner can't hurt & should help. I don't know if insulated stainless is available or not. I don't remember seeing any.
 
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Old 04-05-17, 01:25 PM
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Thanks and will update again

Thanks, Grady. I'll update again, after I meet with the furnace installer.
 
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