Fireplaces are a hot commodity, and often one of the more desirable aspects of a home for buyers. If you have a fireplace in your home, or you're planning to purchase on that does, you're probably wondering about the maintenance required to keep it in safe working order.
Homeowners should consider several safety and maintenance aspects of fireplaces and chimneys, including whether having a chimney liner is necessary for their home, as keeping on top of this can save a lot of trouble and expense in the long term.
Here are the answers to five frequently asked questions regarding chimney liners, and whether you need one.
What is a chimney liner?
A chimney liner is a protective barrier that insulates heat moving through the chimney. They are typically made from metal or ceramic and protect flammable areas of your home's structure. They can also help guard against cracks in flue masonry due to expansion from frequent heating and cooling.
How important is a chimney liner?
Homes built before the 1940s often lack chimney liners, making house fires much more commonplace than they are today. With more stringent building safety regulations and the education of homeowners, chimney liners are now a lot more popular.
A chimney liner is essential, as it provides added protection to the structure and interior of the chimney. They also help to guide harmful gases and particles up and out of the home.
Do you need a chimney liner for a gas furnace?
Yes, if your gas furnace drafts its flue gasses out of the home through a chimney, it is a good idea to have a chimney liner installed. Lining a chimney is a crucial safety precaution, and can help to ensure that your chimney structure is protected from gases and corrosive substances.
Do you need a chimney liner for my woodstove?
Yes, if your home has a wood-burning stove, your chimney should be lined for optimum performance and protection of its structure. Most homes built with a wood-burning stove in the last 50 years have some sort of chimney liner, so it is essential to have it cleaned and inspected yearly for damages.
How do I know if my chimney needs a liner?
If you suspect that your chimney may need a liner, seek the advice of a qualified chimney inspector. An inspector will be able to thoroughly inspect the structure for damage and creosote build-up and advise you accordingly,
Typically, if you have, or plan to install, a wood-burning fireplace insert or a free-standing wood stove, you should also install a steel liner. Similarly, if smoke is coming back into your house from the chimney or if you have experienced a chimney fire that damaged your chimney interior extensively, you will likely need to have a chimney liner installed.
What are the different types of chimney liners?
There are three main options for chimney liners: metal liners, clay tile liners, and cast-in-place liners. All three options are effective at protecting the chimney and roof structure and making the use of your fireplace safer.
Metal flue liners are suitable for almost every chimney and type of home and are usually made out of a stainless steel alloy. Metal liners are an ideal option for existing chimneys that do not currently have a liner or need a new one due to failure.
Simple and relatively cheap to install, metal flue liners provide almost all of the same benefits of other liners; however, they do tend to corrode more quickly due to condensation build-up in the flue.
Clay tile liners are incredibly durable and long lasting and can withstand extremely high temperatures. Clay tile chimney liners are typically installed during the construction of a home, and although the materials are relatively inexpensive, the labor and installation can be costly.
Cast-in-place chimney liners work to reinforce the existing chimney structure. They provide a sturdy and practical liner and are similar to clay flues, in the sense that they can withstand high temperatures well.
Cast-in-place liners also provide effective insulation value and higher temperatures within the chimney, reducing the amount of creosote build-up in the flue.
How much does a chimney liner cost?
The cost of a chimney liner depends on the material you opt for. According to Home Advisor, you can expect to pay anywhere from $625 to $7000 for a chimney liner, with most homeowners paying an average of $2,500.
Easy-to-install materials, like aluminum, cost much less than expensive chimney lining methods such as the use of clay tile. The total cost of a chimney liner will also be dependent on the height and diameter of your flue and whether you need insulation. Often insulation is required for a stainless steel liner and therefore increases the cost.
If you're thinking about purchasing a home with a useable chimney, or selling your existing home, it may be wise to have a chimney inspector come out and take a look before you take the plunge. A local real estate agent, such as a Clever Partner Agent, can connect you with a suitable professional to ensure that your chimney is in safe and working order.