Chimney liner installation
May 18, 2005 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever installed stainless steel chimney liner themselves? I've been quoted amounts ranging from expensive to outrageous to have it done professionally.

I've found multiple not-so-dear sources for the liner itself and related components. Can a reasonably handy person reasonably expect to do it himself? And is insulation around the liner necessary (the house has lasted for 110+ years with neither liner nor insulation and one of the pro quotes was, I believe, for installing liner alone). I plan on installing 5 or 6" liner for an oil-fired furnace (and perhaps 4" liner as well for future gas appliances if I'm already going to the trouble and expense and can fit both liners in the chimney - which will be tough if I insulate both liners).
posted by TimeFactor to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
I had a crew of professionals install liners and insulation in two 110+ year old chimneys. It was pretty amazing to watch these guys basically rebuild two crumbling piles of bricks from the inside out. Since both chimneys had been used to vent coal, wood, heating oil, and natural gas, it was a nasty, stinky, filthy project with black sticky dust billowing from the thoroughly sealed fireplaces. Frankly, I was happy to pay for it to be someone else's mess, so I guess I'm really not much help to you.

However... yes, under some circumstances you don't have to insulate. Check your local building codes carefully though. You really don't want a chimney fire.
posted by Alylex at 1:00 AM on May 19, 2005

I opened the International Residential Code (I am not sure if this is applicable to your locale) to read about chimneys and liners. I don't have much time this morning to really look into this but I would not do this work myself. I too am relatively handy (but perhaps more cautious than you -- who can say) and if I were doing this work in something like my workshop I would not hesitate. In my home though, I would hesitate.

What I did see is that an uninsulated liner appears at first to be acceptable but I did not read all of the details so take that for what its worth -- little -- and as Alylex notes, local codes apply.

Do you mind saying what the range of quotes is? How tall is the chimney from where the flue enters? Is it exposed on one side to the exterior?
posted by Dick Paris at 4:27 AM on May 19, 2005

I am a former chimney sweep, and have done this more times than I care to remember. It's sticky, nasty, smelly, greasy, sweaty filthy work, but well within the range of anyone who is handy around the house. Check your local code regarding insulation. In most cases when venting a gas or fuel oil appliance it's not required.
Wear good eye protection, breathing protection, a do-rag for your hair, gloves, and a delightful black ensemble that you won't mind tossing afterwards, 'cuz it will never be clean again.
It'll take three weeks of hard scrubbing to get the soot off your hands, even if you wear gloves.
Me? I'd hire it done.
posted by Floydd at 6:36 AM on May 19, 2005

The quotes range from $2800 for two liners without insulation (as I recall) to $3600 for one liner with insulation. The quotes do not incluce chimney repair - just lining. The top of the chimney is ~30' from the existing flue. The chimney is completely inside the house; I noticed its crappy condition when I exposed some of it while doing demo for some remodeling. I bet codes for new construction require some separation between wood framing and chimney masonry but there isn't any now (and the house hasn't burnt down yet and I expect lining, insulated or not, only to make that possibility more remote). I believe the house had a coal furnace at one time and wouldn't be surprised if wood stoves had also been vented to the same chimney.

On preview - thanks Floydd for your info.
posted by TimeFactor at 6:40 AM on May 19, 2005

we just had this done last week in fact -- liner, no insulation, and firebricking of the fireplace itself (a different situation than yours, as we were just working with a wood-burning fireplace). it looked like hell on earth to do, but overall, it's not rocket science, though i'm sure i could have screwed it up (especially the attachment cement work inside the fireplace).

i also think a wood-burning fireplace is a MUCH different proposal than dealing with an oil-burning furnace, certainly in terms of building code.

i don't think you need to do any repair to the chimney itself if the liner is properly installed, which is the best part. our chimney is 100 years old or so and mightily crumbly.

definitely do some homework on the size of the liner you want to use -- it's going to make a big difference in draw, for starters. there's surely a formula of sorts regarding this.

i also think it's definitely a 2-person job -- bringing the liner down the chimney involves lots of shouting between the fireplace and the roof, for starters. in the end? we were thrilled to pay.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:54 AM on May 19, 2005

Followup: We went with two uninsulated liners and had it done professionally. Insulation was not required by code and only the guy who wanted to charge a lot of money to install it thought it necessary. The second 4" liner became an important factor and it seemed too difficult to get fit both liners in as a DIY project. It was a very messy job and we were glad to have someone else do it.
posted by TimeFactor at 4:33 PM on April 23, 2006

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