Chimney Relining

Chimney venting a gas furnace with terra cotta flues

When chimneys get old or are not maintained properly they can deteriorate and create hazardous conditions. Cracked tiles and deteriorating masonry can allow hazardous gases or even fire to enter your house. In order to remedy these situations there are two things that can be done. The entire existing chimney can be torn down and rebuilt, or you can reline your chimney with a stainless steel chimney liner. To tear down and rebuild a chimney is not a small job. It’s very labor intensive and can cost quite a bit of money. Sometimes it can be next to impossible, for example if the chimney runs up through the center of the house. The easiest and most cost effective way to repair a chimney is to reline it with a flexible chimney liner.

Many chimneys have jogs or offsets as they rise to the top of a structure, so a rigid pipe is not always the best solution. In the event of the absence of a straight chimney a flexible chimney liner can be used.  A flexible chimney liner can come in two forms.  The first type is a smooth inner wall chimney liner.  This type provides the best draft possible in a flexible chimney liner. The second type is corrugated single wall chimney liner.  These are never recommended for a solid burning appliance such as wood or coal.  Both types of chimney liners are light flexible stainless steel liners.  Most light weight flexible liners are made of 316ti stainless steel.  Aluminum liners are never recommended.

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Are you wondering what the “ti” stands for in 316ti? The answer, titanium. It adds a bit more protection against high heat and corrosion. It’s not necessary but it doesn’t hurt to have it. The flexible liners are built to withstand extremely high heat, in case of a chimney fire. They are said to last a lifetime, but they haven’t been around long enough to prove it. However they have gone through extensive testing at Underwriter Laboratories and other testing agencies and have passed. Flex King chimney liners have been UL listed.

What’s involved in a chimney relining job?
Installation begins with clearing any obstructions that may be inside the chimney. A visual check of chimney is needed to make sure the chimney is clear. A thorough cleaning of the chimney is not necessary because the new liner will provide a brand new flue for the chimney. It’s best to install the correct size liner for the best draft.  If you install a stainless steel chimney liner too large or too small it will decrease your draft.

Almost all stainless steel chimney liners will be installed from the top during a chimney relining.  Sometimes it may have trouble going down.  One trick is to never try to force it down by pushing.  Usually just spinning it back and forth and all the way around will work.  Sometimes, especially around bends you may need more help with a pulling nose cone.  You can attach this to the end of the chimney liner with a rope and have someone on the bottom pulling as you are on the top spinning.  This will always work.

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Once installed the liner should be insulated. This is a step that is often avoided, but is a good idea. An insulated chimney liner will allow for the liner to get heated properly allowing for a better draft and reducing the amount of creosote. There are two types of common insulating methods. The first is a vermiculite and concrete mixture that is poured down the chimney and dries in place. The other is a foiled faced wrap insulation.  If you have enough room in your chimney the wrap insulation can be the easiest method.  The insulation is sold in a complete kit with everything you need.

In order to insulate with the warp insulation you must wrap the liner before it is inserted into the chimney. You start by laying out the insulation on a flat surface. Then the stainless liner is placed in the center of the insulation. The insulation is then wrapped around the liner held in place with a adhesive spray and metal tape on the seems.  The wire mesh sock is then slid over the chimney liner.  This covers over the liner and the insulation to help protect the insulation as its installed down the chimney. A stainless wire is then spiraled around the mesh just to add a little more strength. The mesh is then held in place on both ends by large hose clamps.   Video Instructions.


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Are all Chimney Liners the same?
Most flexible stainless steel liners are the same from manufacturer to manufacturer. They may vary slightly in their steel makeup, some leaving out the Titanium. They are very closely related in their design. Some manufacturers make the “hills and valleys” of the liner a little steeper claiming greater flexibility and strength.

Most people are impressed with the strength of the leading manufacturer’s liner. Does the liner need to be to withstand the weight of a 300lb man? No, it doesn’t. When the liner is placed in your chimney there is no weight pushing on it’s sides. So this is something that is not really necessary, however, it may give people some added peace of mind.

A job only for the pros?
It is possible for a do-it-yourselfer to tackle the job. If you do decide to do it yourself, make sure to do your research and then carefully select the products you need in order to complete the job.  If you have no idea where to start, START HERE.