Popular around the 1980’s, the metal surround can be seen throughout Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Some of these systems are still operational and one potential hazard of the metal surround is its tendency to trap combustibles around the flue termination, something that can be a huge potential fire hazard.
A typical metal surround:
Now for a look inside the surround:
This is what I typically see around the surround, keep in mind this is a high heat area where the flue gases terminate. Here is where it gets a little more complicated.. some surrounds have exposed outer flue liners so if you try to clean the surround out without dismantling the upper section, you can push debris into the liner where it drops down towards the interior fireplace and is now stuck between the liners!
Another potential issue that comes up with this design is they do not come with a flame arrestor, allowing possible animal intrusion or even the worst case scenario, a small animal getting trapped down between flue liners and causing a stink!
If you have this type of exterior chimney, always make sure that the termination area is professionally inspected, cleaned, and consider updating the type of metal surround that you currently have. Newer style surrounds have a standard chase cover and chimney cap, preventing debris and animal entry.