Like most of you reading this article, I consider myself a do-it-yourself type of person. Sometimes I prefer to do the project myself because I want to get it done right (or to my satisfaction) or to save money from an installer doing the job.
In the fall, my wife had called a chimney sweep company to clean our wood-burner chimney and inspect the flue liner. A friend of mine and I had built this concrete block chimney in 1983, so it was long overdue to have a professional look over the flue for any problems as I normally just run a brush down the flue before the weather gets cold.
My wife called me at work to tell me the chimney inspector was there and had some bad news, so I rushed home to find out what the problem was. The inspector was still there and informed me that several of the flue liners had cracked and this would involve a complete teardown and rebuild of the chimney to the tune of $8700.00! Now, I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night, so this company was promptly told to forget it and I called another chimney sweep company for their opinion. 2 days passed and the second company appeared and proceeded with their inspection. Yes, they agreed that 3 flue liners were cracked and I should consider having the chimney relined before using it for the winter.
I asked what the quote would be for this project and the price came back at $2500.00.
Still too high as far as I was concerned. At this point I began researching the Internet for a solution to this problem.
I found that relining a chimney was possible for the do-it yourself type of person, but I called several chimney liner companies to get their advice on this project. All of them agreed that the typical homeowner with basic home repair skills could do this project, so I ordered a flexible stainless steel liner and insulation package to accomplish this task at the price of $1100.00 and my labor.
Four weeks later, the liner and installation package arrived and I was ready to go. I had viewed the informational videos and read the instructions, so I felt I was ready to go. WRONG!
Anyone who tells you that trying to feed 25 ft of flexible pipe down a chimney flue is easy should have their heads examined! In a perfect world, it might be able to be done easily, but over time, flue tiles do shift slightly and the inside diameter at the bottom may not be exactly the inner diameter that the upper flue tiles measure. That was the problem with this installation! 2 of the flue tiles had shifted over the years and would not allow the liner to reach the bottom of the chimney. This problem required I call in the cavalry, so I called my brother for assistance. Soon, he arrived and we were both on top of the roof in a concerted effort to manually lift and drive the liner all the way into the chimney flue. Picture two, 200 + lbs. men on top of a peaked roof trying to drive a flexing piece of pipe into the top of a chimney and we were quickly becoming a neighborhood spectacle.
After 30 minutes of twisting and beating and cussing, we finally broke the piece of flue tile that was holding up this project and the new liner moved to the level we needed to install the cross-piece that would attach to the stove pipe. This involved attaching 2 worm gear clamps to stainless steel straps on the inside of the flue adapter and screwing them down tightly. This part of the installation went to plan and things finally began to fall into place. Installing the chimney crown plate and the cap went easily and the project was finally finished.
In retrospect, would I attempt to do this project myself again? Yes, but I would advise to measure the inside dimension of the existing flue all the way down to the bottom before ordering the size liner you need.