Professional and federal safety organizations have recommended that homeowners install a liner inside their chimney as an additional protective measure, and this makes people wonder about a chimney liner cost if they don’t have one currently. These liners work to protect any masonry or brick chimneys from creosote build-up and decay. They can also work to improve how energy-efficient your appliances are that use the chimney, and this can help lower your utility costs each time you use it.
The liner will run the length of your flue and it provides ventilation for your wood stove or fireplace. However, older chimneys usually don’t have this liner in place since it wasn’t common back then, and safety wasn’t such a big issue. If you currently don’t have one, you should consider the chimney liner cost and budget for it so you can have one put in your current setup. If you have a liner but it’s in poor condition, you may have to replace it to make your chimney as safe as possible.
The average chimney liner cost starts at $1,800 and goes up to $4,000. A lot of homeowners will pay right around $2,500 for their chimney liner cost to install a stainless steel one with a six-inch diameter. If you want an aluminum liner with a six-inch diameter, the chimney liner cost can drop to as low as $600. You could also choose to go with a cast-in-place option, but this will increase your chimney liner cost to $7,000.
It’s important to note that the $600 estimate is for a DIY option where you don’t call in a professional. The higher costs include professional installation, and this is best since the liner performs such a vital function for your chimney. If you’re trying to narrow down your chimney liner cost, this is for you. We’ll go over the biggest considerations you want to keep in mind to ensure that you can come up with a working budget and complete this project without breaking your bank.
Allowing your chimney to fall in disrepair and have a damaged liner is one fast way to increase your chances of a fire or issues with fumes coming into your home. Installing a new liner or having your current one inspected is a necessary step to take to keep your home safe. Chimneys by Barb / CC BY 2.0
How Material Impacts Your Chimney Liner Costs
One of the first things you have to do is pick out a material for your liner because this will directly impact your overall chimney liner cost. Some liners come at higher upfront costs, but they make up for it by having longer lifespans. For those on a budget, there are materials that can help you keep your chimney liner costs down. The most popular choices include:
If you’re trying to control your chimney liner cost and already have a roof replacement project going, you may consider aluminum. This is a lightweight and budget-friendly material. You won’t have to pay someone to remove any old liners piece by piece, and aluminum will run between $5.00 and $30.00 a foot. When you include installation in your chimney liner cost, you can expect to pay between $600 and $2,250.
Even though this is a more budget-friendly option, you can only use this type of liner for medium heat gas appliances. Also, they only last about five years before you need to replace them because they rust much quicker than other materials.
This is a permanent style of chimney liner that is a great option if your chimney has structural problems that you want to restore. A professional will come to your home and pump liquid mortar around an inflatable rubber tube that runs through your chimney. The mortar will dry before they pull out the tube to leave behind a seamless and smooth liner in your flue.
It can last more than 50 years, but the materials alone will increase your chimney liner cost budget by $40.00 to $120 a square foot. When you add insulation, your prices jump to $2,000 to $7,000. The higher installation cost can be a drawback, but it can easily accommodate any chimney structure without seals or joints.
These liners will also work to prevent condensation or heat build up, and it can improve your chimney’s overall structure because it’ll seal any existing chips or cracks. Finally, you’ll get an excellent layer of insulation that makes your flue more energy-efficient while helping it burn cleaner.
If you container garden, you may have heard of terracotta clay as being an important material for your containers. However, it also works very well as a chimney liner. The materials will run between $6.00 and $15.00 a foot, and this makes you think that you can keep your chimney liner cost low. However, the labor aspect is more involved because the old tiles have to come off piece by piece. This is why this project has a price range of $2,000 to $3,500.
Clay tiles won’t corrode, and they also conduct heat very well to make everything more energy-efficient. They require very little in the way of maintenance or cleaning to keep them working, and this can help you justify the higher upfront cost. However, they can deteriorate or crack with extremely hot temperatures, and cracks can lead to fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Finally, we have a stainless steel liner, and many contractors will recommend this option because it works with any appliance you have. You can get several types to accommodate different homes, and your chimney’s shape will dictate whether you have a flexible or rigid liner. Rigid liners only work in straight chimneys, and the flexible option works best if your chimney has at least one off-set or bend to it.
Stainless steel is a long-term solution that can last between 15 and 20 years with proper cleaning and maintenance. You’ll pay between $20.00 and $90.00 a foot for materials, and installation will increase your chimney liner cost by $900 to $3,800.
Insulation Level Price Points
Your chimney needs a liner, and it doesn’t matter if you’re running a new gas line in preparation for installing a new fireplace or if you want to start using your current setup more frequently. Without this liner, fire or hazardous gasses can leak into your home.
You want to insulate this liner if you choose a material like stainless steel or aluminum to make it more energy-efficient. You get two options when it comes to your insulation that will drive your overall chimney liner cost, and the insulation will help protect against excessive heat and ensure smoke expulsion.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you choose to add insulation to your liner to help improve the chimney’s performance while protecting the masonry work. The insulation can get poured down your chimney after the flue and liner are in, or the liner can get wrapped in insulation before it gets installed.
Retractable mesh with foil insulation are popular choices, and clamps hold the insulation in place. This will add to your chimney liner cost by $500 to $1,500, depending on which type of insulation you choose.
This is a very economical choice when you’re picking out your new liner and monitoring your chimney liner costs. They typically use stainless steel and are flexible enough to fit past your damper. They’re usually more difficult to clean and less durable, and you can expect to pay between $20.00 and $40.00 per foot for this style chimney liner cost.
This type of liner comes with a corrugated outer wall with a smooth inner liner. They give you less buildup with creosote, and they can increase the drafts by as much as 20%. However, they can make your appliances very efficient each time you use them, and they will increase your chimney liner cost by $40.00 to $90.00 a foot to install.
Scheduling routine inspections of your chimney is one way to be on the lookout for damage and correct it early. Doing so will help reduce the time and money you spend fixing or outright replacing worn out parts to keep your chimney running in peak shape. Man on the Roof by Astrid Westvang / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Flexible or Rigid Liner Cost
If you decide to have a professional install your liner, they can tailor your choice to fit your budget. You do want to understand what a rigid and flexible liner will mean for your chimney’s ongoing care, routine maintenance, and the overall chimney liner cost.
Flexible liners can be more expensive than rigid liners, but this will depend on your flue’s height. If your chimney has bends or offsets, having a flexible liner will be well worth the increased chimney liner cost. This liner gets installed as a single long piece of material that will fit your flue’s shape. There are no seams or joints, and this reduces your risks of breaks or leaks. You can purchase flexible liners in diameters starting at two-inches and going up to ten-inches. Per foot, you’ll pay between $20.00 and $90.00.
This is usually a more cost-effective choice, but it has limitations with it. For example, you can’t manipulate or bend them to accommodate any bends or offsets in your chimney, so it has to be 100% straight. They have joints that can leak or break with normal wear and tear, and they work in flue diameters starting at three-inches and going up to ten-inches. The contractor will connect several one to four-foot sections to create your liner, and this can increase your chimney liner cost by $30.00 and $50.00 a foot.
The contractor you work with will most likely have recommendations you want to consider before you proceed with the installation. One of the biggest things you’ll have to do is install a chimney inspection and hire a chimney sweep to come in and clean it before they’ll start the installation process.
Depending on the level of chimney inspection you need, some contractors will include a basic inspection in the original chimney liner cost quote. On average, you should expect to pay around $450 for a level-two chimney inspection and a very basic sweep. The inspector will perform a visual assessment of the surrounding area and the chimney itself. They’ll send video equipment down the flue to look at the internal areas and the chimney’s structural integrity.
The chimney sweep will come in and sweep your chimney from the roof down to get rid of debris and vacuum them away. Then the inspector will come in and send the equipment inside the chimney. This will make it easy to scan. Once you get your new liner installed, you want to budget another inspection within six months into your chimney liner cost. You want at least a level two inspection.
Chimney Liner Cost for Installation and Labor
Since installation of a chimney liner can be so complex, it’s best that you call in a professional company to perform this project for you. Fireplace service companies, chimney service companies, and chimney sweeps are all options you can look into to find the correct professional to install your new liner.
One of the first things any company will do is inspect your chimney for any structural issues or repairs you may need like a damaged chimney breast. They’ll have to address these issues before the installation process begins, and this can add onto your total chimney liner cost.
Based on your chimney’s current condition and age, the company can also help you narrow down what liners will work best and any benefits that come after they finish the installation process. Make sure you ask about warranty coverage for your liner, and make note of any recommendations they offer about routine maintenance needs.
They may not need to come back, but they might have to come back if they run into a problem with accessibility or fit during the installation process. You’ll pay your installer between $75.00 and $150 an hour for any return visits.
Your chimney liner cost will also depend on the labor, and it typically falls between $500 and $1,500 for the project. For a single-family home, it’s usually a single day project to install a new liner in a straight flue with one appliance connection point.
If your home has a steep roof or you have a very tall building, this makes the project take longer to complete. The same goes for any repairs or insulation you want or need. The installers usually charge an hourly rate that starts at $75.00 and goes up to $150. Your location will play a big factor in this hourly price.
The labor is a huge part of your installation costs because most contractors will charge by the hour. More complicated projects tend to take much longer, and this can increase your final project total. Your roof height and pitch also factor in. Chimney Work by Head Harbour Lightstation / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Additionally Installation Cost Factors
Unfortunately, your chimney liner cost for the installation process comes with several different factors that can make it fluctuate. The type of liner is arguably one of the biggest factors, but your costs can vary if your chimney is an odd shape or size or if it’s in a multi-level home. Other cost factors include:
Age and Chimney Condition
Your installer will take note of your chimney’s condition before they install the new liner. The chimney has to be structurally sound to avoid issues during the installation process. So, if you have a crown on your chimney that has a lot of damage, you could pay around $900 more to apply sealants and fill the cracks. You may also need to factor for a full or partial rebuild, and this can run upwards of $2,800.
Unless you’re replacing your roof and chimney at the same time, your roof height will contribute to your chimney liner cost. If the chimney has a difficult access point due to a higher roof, you may end up paying for heavy equipment rentals to help the company reach the area. If you end up renting a lift, this can increase your chimney liner cost by $350 a day.
The pitch of your roof plays a role in the total project cost as well. If your roof has a very steep pitch to it, the company will have to bring in safety gear and take more precautions to protect their staff, and this increases how long the project takes. Instead of blocking off four or six hours, it can take as long as eight. This will increase your labor costs by $150 to $300.
If your chimney has offsets or beds, it’ll increase your chimney liner cost more than a straight one will. Non-straight chimneys need a cast-in mortar liner, and this liner gets installed by way of an inflatable rubber bladder. This is a permanent liner option that can accommodate oddly-shaped chimneys, and it can also improve the chimney’s overall structural integrity. However, the materials are very expensive, and you should expect this to increase your chimney liner cost by $40.00 to $120 a foot.
Total Number of Appliances
How many vented or gas appliances do you plan to use with your chimney? This number will affect how much your chimney liner cost ends up being. Every appliance that you attach to your chimney’s flue should get fitted and sealed after they install the liner. This will take more labor hours to complete, and you’ll also use more materials. If you have several connections for appliances, it can boost your total cost by over $400.
How Much it Can Cost to Replace Your Chimney Liner
Your liner will extend your flue and chimney’s life while protecting your home from fires. It’s a good idea to know which material your liner is because this will be the biggest factor in deciding what to use when it comes time to replace it and how often you have to replace it. If you have an aluminum liner, you want to replace it once every five years. However, a cast-in-place liner can easily last 50 years or more. As a general rule, you could plan on replacing your liner every 15 or 20 years.
There could be clear signs that it’s time to replace your liner much sooner. Maybe you have visible deterioration or cracks in your flue. If so, you can check by shining a flashlight into your chimney. Look for soot issues, drafting, or condensation. Having an unusual smell could also indicate a problem. If you have clay lining the flue, look for white powder as it’s a sign your liner is starting to crumble. Seeing rust is a good indication that there is water leaking around the chimney too.
On average, you can expect your chimney liner cost for replacement to fall between $1,200 and $4,600. There are labor costs involved here too since a contractor will have to remove the old liner before they can install a new one. Choosing a clay tile liner is more expensive because they have to peel the old liner off tile by tile, and this can take hours.
An old flexible stainless steel or aluminum liner can get lifted and pulled out of your chimney in a single piece. Most companies will charge an hourly rate to remove this old liner before replacing it with a new one, and it can increase your chimney liner cost by $75.00 to $150 an hour. Most companies add it to the material and labor costs when they give you an estimate to install the new one, but be sure to double-check.
Routine Cleaning and Maintenance Prices
Performing routine maintenance will help your liner last much longer. If you take care of it correctly, it can easily last decades and help justify your initial chimney liner cost. You’ll want to have annual cleanings and inspections. Have someone come out once a year to clean out the creosote and look for damage. This will cost around $250 per visit. The price will go up if you ignore it for years.
You also want a professional inspection at least once a year. Usually your chimney sweep can do this before and during the cleaning process. They’ll typically factor this cost into their estimate, but you do want to check and make sure they do it and if it causes the prices to fluctuate.
It’s also important that you check for creosote buildup at least once every two months during the cooler seasons when you use it more. Get a flashlight and scan the inside of the chimney. You also want your liner inspected before a new appliance installation. Some liners won’t fit right into a new appliance, and you may have to pay for an additional connector.
Where to Find Chimney Liner Installers Near You
When you start looking for chimney liner installers, you want to find a company that offers the best chimney liner cost without sacrificing quality. You can start here for local options:
Frequently Asked Questions
Asking questions when you talk to contractors can help you get a better understanding for the scope of the project, and this can help you budget more efficiently. Tile Cement by Robin Tell / CC BY-NC 2.0
If you’re not sure which questions to ask your contractors when you contact them, it’s a good idea to write down a short list to ensure you get an accurate chimney liner cost estimate based on the same criteria from each company. The following are a few frequently asked questions that can help you flesh out a price:
1. What is a chimney liner?
A liner is a protective layer that goes inside your chimney. It comes made from ceramics, clay, or metal, and it acts like a conduite for the heat. The heat travels through the liner, and the liner also helps release any fumes or combustibles out of your home to prevent fires. They protect the chimney’s walls from structural damage or corrosion.
2. Are chimney liners necessary?
Yes, one easy way to justify the upfront chimney liner cost is to know that it reduces your risks of a chimney fire while making it more energy-efficient. It helps limit the amount of heat transfer that goes on, and it can also help reduce the amount of creosote that builds up.
3. How much would it cost to build a new chimney?
Maybe there is a lot of structural damage to your current chimney and you think that it’ll be more cost-effective to tear it down and start from scratch. On average, it ranges from $60.00 to $200 a linear foot, and chimneys with bends or off-sets are more expensive than straight chimneys.
There are a host of factors that go into determining your chimney liner cost, and we’ve outlined the biggest considerations for you. You can take this guide and use it to help create a working budget for this project. This way, you’ll get a good idea on whether or not you can afford it, and you can start the process of finding contractors to keep your home safe and protect your chimney.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.