Chimney Liner Installation
How much does it cost to install a chimney liner?
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Chimney Liner Installation Cost Guide
Updated: 26 Jan 2022
Chimney Liner Installation
Updated: Jul 29, 2021
Reviewed by Adam Graham remodeling expert. Written by Fixr.com.
For decades, federal and professional safety organizations have recommended installing a liner in your chimney as a protective measure. Chimney liners provide an extra layer of fire protection and reduce corrosion on the chimney walls. As an extra benefit, they also improve the efficiency of appliances to reduce utility costs.
The national average cost to install a chimney liner ranges from $1,800 to $4,000, with most homeowners paying around $2,500 for a flexible double-wall stainless-steel chimney liner. Costs can be as low as $625 to install a rigid single-wall aluminum chimney liner. However, homeowners can expect to pay as much as $7,000 for a cast-in-place liner.
Chimney Liner Costs
|Chimney Liner Installation Cost|
|National average cost||$2,500|
Single vs Double-Wall Chimney Liner Prices
Every chimney needs a liner. Without it, hazardous gases or even fire can enter your home. The most popular way to build a new chimney or repair an existing one is to install a stainless steel or aluminum liner. When it comes to stainless-steel and aluminum liners, homeowners have two options: single- or double-wall. Double- and single-wall options are only available in metal liners as the other materials do not have insulating properties. The cost ranges from $20 for single-wall versions to $90 for double-wall varieties.
|Type||Cost per Foot (Materials Only)|
|Single-Wall||$20 - $40|
|Double-Wall||$40 - $90|
You can expect to pay between $20 and $40 per foot for a single-wall liner. These are considered a very economical choice when selecting a new liner. They are often made of stainless steel and are flexible enough to install easily by fitting past the damper. Single-wall liners are more difficult to clean and are considered less durable. They also have a similar price point as rigid options.
Double-wall liners usually cost between $40 and $90 per foot. A double-wall liner has a smooth inner wall and a corrugated outer wall. They tend to have less creosote build-up and increase drafts by approximately 20 percent. These models provide improved appliance efficiency. Single-wall versions are less expensive and fairly strong. However, a double-wall version has additional strength and creates less build-up since the temperatures do not fluctuate as much with this material due to the extra layer of insulation.
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Chimney Liner Cost by Type
When a professional installs a chimney liner, they have several options to fit your chimney and your wallet. Each type is best suited for particular fireplaces and has specific advantages and disadvantages. When choosing which model to install, be sure that you understand what each type means for your chimney’s long-term care and cost. Rigid liners are made for straight flues, connect via 1 to 4 foot pieces, and are 3 to 10 inches in diameter. Flexible versions adjust to the shape of a flue, come in a single piece, and range from 2 to 10 inches in diameter. They cost as little as $5 to $200 per foot, depending on the material used and whether it is rigid or flexible.
|Type||Cost per Foot (Materials Only)|
|Rigid||$5 - $200|
|Flexible||$15 - $120|
Rigid Chimney Liner
Rigid liners cost between $5 and $200 per foot. They are usually less expensive than other types. However, they have their limitations and challenges. They can only be installed in straight flues because they can’t be bent or manipulated to accommodate offsets or bends in the structure. Because they’re immovable, leaks and breaks at the joints are possible over time. You can purchase rigid liners for flue diameters of 3” to 10”. Upon installation, the professional connects multiple one- to four-foot pieces to create the full liner.
Flexible Flue Liner
You should expect to pay between $15 and $120 per foot for a flexible liner. Depending on the height of your flue, these may be slightly more expensive than rigid types. However, this cost might be necessary (and well worth it) if your chimney has offsets and/or bends when you consider the long-term cost of your liner. Unlike rigid models, a flexible type is installed as one long piece of material that fits the shape of your flue. Because there are no joints and seams from connecting pieces, leaks or breaks are less likely. They can be purchased in diameters between 2” to 10”.
Average Cost of a Chimney Liner by Material
Compare materials before choosing the best type of liner for your home. Although less expensive choices are available, some models have prolonged lifespans with higher upfront costs. Some liners vary in price based on the material used. For instance, ceramic liners are more expensive in terms of materials. However, they also tend to last up to 50 years. On the other hand, clay is inexpensive but can be costly to repair.
|Material||Rigid Liner Cost per Foot (Materials Only)||Flexible Liner Cost per Foot (Materials Only)|
|Aluminum||$5 - $20||$15 - $30|
|Clay / Terracotta||$6 - $15||N/A|
|Stainless Steel||$20 - $40||$40 - $90|
|Cast-in-Place||$25 - $250||N/A|
|Ceramic||$50 - $200||N/A|
Aluminum Chimney Liner
An aluminum chimney liner is a budget-friendly material to install with the aluminum material costing between $5 and $20 for rigid versions and $15 to $30 for flexible options. The material is lightweight. The labor costs do not require a professional to remove any old liners tile by tile. While it’s an inexpensive option, it can only be used for medium heat gas appliances. This material has a lifespan of about five years since they tend to rust much quicker than stainless steel.
Clay Chimney Liner
Clay or terracotta is one of the least expensive materials used to make chimney liners. The materials themselves are rigid and cost between $6 and $15 per foot. The pros of choosing terracotta are that it doesn’t corrode or conduct heat and requires minimal annual cleaning maintenance. However, in addition to the high labor costs, clay has several cons, including the tendency to crack and deteriorate under extremely high heat. Cracks in any liner are potentially dangerous because they can cause house fires or leak carbon monoxide into a home.
Stainless Steel Chimney Liner
Stainless steel chimney liner prices range between $20 and $40 for rigid materials and $40 to $90 for flexible liners per foot for the material alone. Most professional companies recommend stainless-steel for your liner because the material is compatible with any appliance. They come in a variety of types to accommodate most homes. The shape of your flue determines whether a professional recommends a rigid or a flexible model. Rigid types can only be used in straight flues. If your professional recommends a flexible stainless steel option, that means that your chimney has at least one bend or off-set.
Whether you’re relining an old flue or upgrading an existing liner, stainless-steel delivers a long-term solution for most chimneys. When properly cleaned and maintained, it will last between 15 and 20 years.
Cast-in-Place Chimney Liner
Cast-in-place lasts more than 50 years as a rigid liner and costs between $25 and $250 per foot for materials only. A cast-in-place liner is a permanent solution for chimneys that require restoration because of structural problems. The process requires a professional to pump in liquid mortar around an inflatable rubber tube inserted into the flue. When the mortar dries, the tube is removed, leaving a smooth and seamless flue liner. The high cost of installation is the only con to this permanent solution. They accommodate any structure without the need for joints or seals that could leak or break over time. They prevent the build-up of heat and condensation. The labor process seals any existing cracks in the chimney while also improving its overall structure. Finally, this liner makes the entire flue burn cleaner and more energy-efficient.
Ceramic Chimney Liner
A ceramic liner is rigid and costs between $50 and $200 per foot. If your current liner only needs minor repairs, or if you want to retrofit your chimney to convert to natural gas, you can do this without replacing the entire liner. The installation of ceramic liners (Thermocrete is the most well-known brand) is a repair technique that professionals use to seal cracks in an existing liner to extend its lifetime. When you have a Thermocrete session, a technician lowers a machine into your flue and sprays a liquid ceramic layer over your liner. When it dries, any minor surface damage will be erased. This solution is only for flues with existing liners that are structurally sound but cosmetically imperfect. It’s a labor-intensive process.
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Labor Cost to Line a Chimney
Due to the complexities of installing a flue liner, the work is best done by a professional. Chimney sweeps, chimney service companies, and fireplace service companies are usually the professionals used to install new liners.
Professionals assess your chimney and note any repairs or structural issues that need addressing before installation. Based on the chimney’s age and current condition, a professional can outline what types of liners work best for your chimney and the benefits you can expect after installation. Talk to the installer about warranty coverage for the new liner and ask about maintenance recommendations. Although a follow-up visit may not be required, the installer may need to return if there’s an issue with fit or accessibility during installation. The installer charges an hourly rate of $75 to $150 per hour for return visits.
The average labor cost for a chimney liner installation is between $500 and $1,500. Most of these installations can be done in a day for a single-family home with a straight flue and a single appliance connection. The project takes longer for chimneys set on very tall buildings or homes with a steep roof. If the chimney liner is being insulated or repairs are required, this increases the time.
Cost Factors to Install a Chimney Liner
Different factors determine the final cost of a chimney liner installation project. The type of liner needed is the largest determinant. Costs vary if you have a chimney that isn’t a standard size and shape or reside in a multi-level home. You can also expect costs to vary based on the number of flues used for a chimney and how easy it is to reach the roof. Other factors that contribute to the final installation cost include the size, amount of insulation, type, material, and location-dependent labor costs.
The pitch, height, shape, and age of the roof impact the cost, as can the number of vented appliances that use the chimney. Roofs that are challenging to access require more labor for this type of installation. Chimneys that have not been maintained well may also be more expensive to add liners because a rebuild may be required. If it has more bends and offsets than normal, this drives the price up to some degree.
Cost to Replace a Chimney Liner
Chimney relining costs, on average, between $1,200 and $4,600. This labor cost accounts for removing the old liner and installing a new one. You should expect to pay more depending on the material of the old and new liners. For instance, installing a new clay tile liner will be on the higher end of the spectrum because a professional must remove the old clay liner tile by tile. An old aluminum or flexible stainless steel liner can simply be pulled out in one piece. If an old liner needs to be removed, professionals charge an hourly rate to do so, usually between $75 and $150 an hour. This cost will be added to the labor and material cost to install the new liner.
When to Replace a Chimney Liner
Your liner extends the life of your chimney and flue and helps to protect your home from fires. Homeowners should know the material of their current liner. This is one factor for determining when to consider a replacement. An aluminum model should be replaced at least every five years. On the other hand, a cast-in-place one might not need to be replaced for more than 50 years. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should replace your liner every 15 to 20 years.
However, clear signs might indicate that you need to replace it sooner. These include cracks and other visible deterioration inside your flue. You can check for these by shining a flashlight into your chimney. You might also notice condensation, drafting, or soot issues. If you observe smoke not leaving home efficiently, you might need to replace your liner. Unusual smells from your fireplace are also an indication of potential problems. If your flue is lined with clay, pay attention to white powder on the inside of the fireplace. This is a sign that the liner is crumbling. Rust on the inside of the fireplace or any indication of water infiltration around the chimney lets you know that your liner may need replacing.
Before installing a new liner, your installer is likely to provide a few recommendations. Most importantly, homeowners should schedule a chimney inspection and sweep before the installation date. Keep in mind that, depending on what type of inspection you have done, a basic sweep may be included in the cost. The average cost of a Level 2 inspection with basic sweep averages about $400. This inspection includes a visual assessment of the chimney and surrounding areas. Video equipment is used to evaluate the flue and the structural integrity of the chimney’s internal areas. Before the chimney is inspected, it is swept from the roof down. All debris is vacuumed away to allow for easy scanning.
After a new liner is installed, inspections are recommended within six months. Homeowners should arrange to have at least a Level 2 inspection performed.
It is recommended to add insulation to maximize fireplace and chimney efficiency. Insulation improves the performance of the chimney and protects masonry work. It controls the release of hot gases to benefit the home. While non-insulated flues may do a good job in most situations, issues can crop up when the air is extremely cold. This makes the liner colder and creates condensation, impacting how efficiently hot gases are released from the chimney.
Three types of insulation are available. These include a mix containing vermiculite that is poured between the liner and chimney, an insulation blanket, or pre-insulation installed in the liner before it is moved into a chimney. Keep in mind that additional insulation can only be installed in metal models.
When insulation is added, liners are wrapped before installation, or the insulation is poured down the chimney after installation into the space between the flue and liner. Foil insulation is commonly used along with retractable mesh. Clamps secure the insulation at the top and bottom of the chimney. The cost to install insulation for a stainless-steel chimney liner will be around $300 to $800.
Chimney liners improve efficiency by decreasing creosote buildup and reducing cold drafts. Hotter gases draw better than cold gases. A better draw improves combustion rates and, in turn, increases heating efficiency. They are also insulating, which increases the appliance’s efficiency since they provide an extra layer of protection and prevent moisture build-up.
They also require less fuel to produce the same amount of heat. That goes for wood or gas fuel sources. Fuel burns hotter, smoke escapes efficiently, and less fuel gives you the same amount of heat. To get the best efficiency, make sure it was tested with and designed for your unit.
How to Size a Chimney Liner
Standard liners are sold at prices quoted per foot. Measurements needed to purchase the right size are usually the diameter and length. Six to eight inches is the standard diameter for most round chimney openings. To calculate the length, measure from the chimney crown to the thimble where the liner would enter the wall to connect to an appliance. You never want it to be smaller than the appliance exhaust hole. You also don’t want it to be more than three times (in diameter) the size of the appliance exhaust hole. If it is, smoke will escape into your house.
Chimneys come in different shapes, but many have a round flue. There are different-shaped models available to fit the exact shape of your flue—including round, square, oval, and rectangular liners. Companies are starting to make flexible-shaped varieties that work with flues that are both standard and non-standard shapes. However, you should always consult with an installer before choosing the shape of your liner. Even if you have an oval flue, a round liner may still work. Installers prefer them due to ease of installation and cost-effectiveness.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Chimney liner maintenance prolongs its lifespan. With proper care, a liner can last decades. The most important part of maintenance is annual cleanings and inspections. Hire a chimney sweep at least once a year to remove creosote and check for any signs of damage. This costs an average of $100 to $500 each visit. If there are any cracks or holes in the liner, repairs may be needed. Although once a year is adequate for professional inspections, homeowners should check for creosote buildup every two months during the heating season. Use a flashlight to check for signs of creosote buildup.
Another part of maintenance is having it inspected before installing a new appliance. The inspector can let you know if it is appropriate for use with the new appliance. Some liners won’t fit correctly into the appliance and may need additional connections to work.
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Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Chimney Cap Installation
The average cost to install a chimney cap is $300 to $600. This is a protective cover on top of the chimney. It can be made in various styles and is created from copper or steel mesh. The mesh is covered by a ring that protects against wind and rain. The main purpose is to reduce the amount of moisture in your home, which is important if you are in a wet location. It is recommended to install a cap with a liner since water in the chimney can damage the liner, dampers, and joints in the mortar. Lack of a cap can also lead to mildew and mold or make your home overly humid.
The top plate of a chimney is used to help secure the liner, so it stays in the appropriate place. If a flexible model is used, an inner band clamp is used with the top plate for better security. A rain cap can also be added to the collar of the top plate for help when the weather is bad. Many top plates are available, and some homeowners choose a premium or more aesthetically-pleasing option. Installing a top plate ranges from about $175 to $1,200. The design, size, and intricacy of the plate affects the final cost.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits. Your local or state government may require a permit before having a new chimney liner installed. Your installer can submit applications on your behalf. Permit applications typically have a fee of at least $25.
- DIY. This type of installation is not a DIY project. The roof will need to be accessed to install a chimney liner, which poses a safety hazard. Installations done by inexperienced installers could lead to potential hazards such as fires and carbon monoxide exposure.
- Old units. Older chimneys may not have previously had a liner installed. However, for safety reasons, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends all chimneys now install one to optimize performance and safety.
- Warranty. Warranty coverage of the chimney typically depends on what type of material was used. As an example, aluminum models usually have a very short timeframe of just two years. Stainless steel options have a warranty period of ten years or more, as long as regular inspections and cleanings are performed.
- Before installation. To prepare for an installation appointment, you should also clear out any potential items that block access to any appliances connected to the chimney. Installers need to move freely around the appliances to install the liner and any fittings. Although they are not usually installed in the colder months, remove any leaves, ice, or snow from the roof if they are present.
- Do I need a chimney liner?
To reduce chimney fire risk and improve heating efficiency, it is highly recommended. The liner helps limit heat transfer and reduces overall creosote buildup. Masonry work inside the flue is also protected through the liner.
- How much does it cost to reline a chimney?
On average, it costs between $1,200 and $4,600 to reline a chimney. This labor cost accounts for removing the old liner and installing a new one.
- How long does it take to install a chimney liner?
For one flue, the installation process can take up to eight hours. For multiple flues, you should expect a multi-day project.
- How long will a stainless-steel chimney liner last?
With proper care and maintenance, it will last between 15 and 20 years.
- What is a chimney liner?
A flue liner is a protective layer inside your chimney made from materials such as metal, clay, or ceramics. They are meant to act as a conduit for the heat traveling through the chimney to assist with the release of combustibles into the outdoors. Chimney liners also protect the inner walls of the flue from corrosion and structural damage.
- How is a chimney liner installed?
The process of installing a chimney liner depends on the type used. Some liners are fed up through the flue and then secured with sealants and clamps. Other types are poured in like cement or ceramic. The installation process will affect the final cost.
- How much does it cost to install a chimney liner?
Stainless steel is the most popular material used for chimney liners and they cost around $1,800 to $4,000.
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