Sunday, August 19, 2007

More Chimney Lining Fun!

Two more chimneys got lined during the week. Deborah helped me get these things onto the roof through the access hatch and I got to steer them down their respective chimney(s) which is currently six and a half feet shorter than it needs to be and about 4 feet below the roof line. The idea being that I will build the remainder of the chimney around the liners versus adding to the chimney and not having liners that are long enough. The shorter liner with no insulation wrap went down without a hitch and dropped right into the smoke chamber where I could wrap some ceramic blanket around it and pull it back up into the throat of the flue and plug the remaining gaps with more ceramic blanket material. This plug then gets a couple of coats of refractory mortar to seal it properly. This chimney will get the vermiculite/Portland cement treatment which acts as an insulator and will re-enforce the structure of the chimney. No I don't have a cement mixer so all of this is done by hand and carried up a ladder in a bucket. Fortunately it doesn't weigh a whole lot so it is manageable.

The other liner was another story! This one had the ceramic blanket wrap and the armor mesh covering to protect it as it was lowered into the chimney. This particular chimney flue has a twist and a bend in it. Since the ceramic wrap adds another inch to the diameter of the liner I had to press the bottom end a bit to "ovalize" it so that it would go down the bend into the throat at the top of the smoke chamber. I had to compress about 2 feet of the liner before inserting it and as it was lowered it had to be lined up in the correct configuration so that when it hit the bend it would be properly aligned. Of course none of this mattered because we hit our first snag ten feet into the chimney. The good news was I hadn't plugged any of the holes that I had uncovered which had serviced wood burning stoves in the past.

After lowering the liner a mere ten feet it was stuck on a ledge of mortar that closed the opening at the twist point. The chimney is 12" X 12" at the top and most of the way down, but at this particular spot it narrowed to 12" X 9". Deborah held the flashlight as I whacked the end of a crow bar with a hammer through a 6" diameter hole in the side of the chimney. After about an hour I was still having trouble removing the mass of mortar that was causing the snag so I opened up the hole in the wall to this. This is in our second floor bathroom. (That's right, the one where the pipes freeze every year and mushrooms grow out of the ceiling!);

Now I could get a hand with a chisel and a hand with a hammer into this space and after a few whacks I had a box of this;

Deborah tugged as I pushed from the roof and the liner dropped another three feet before it got caught up again. At this point there was no turning back. I was unable to lift the liner back out so I twisted it and pushed. I'm sure if anyone was watching they would have the strange man straddling his stump of a chimney hugging a large steel tube while twisting like a loon! It dropped another few feet and was ready to enter the 45 degree bend part where the opening narrowed to 12" X 8".

There is a large hole in the side of the chimney in the dining room. I uncovered it when repairing a bulge in the plaster. I can only guess that this was for a clean-out door.

I had to insert a 1" X 2" wood board into this opening and lay it on the bottom part of the flue so the liner wouldn't get stuck as I pushed and twisted the liner from the roof. Deborah stood on a step ladder with her hand on the wood to cause the liner to bend in the desired direction. After a little more pushing and twisting the liner was in. It was a little awkward removing the strip of wood but I got it out too. By the end of it all the view looking up into the firebox was this;

This will be plugged with ceramic blanket material and sealed with refractory mortar. You can see I have already started patching the smoke chamber. I wouldn't be so thorough except that a city inspector is going to shine a flashlight up here and I am better off doing the job right first time. Besides, we may actually burn wood in this fireplace so I know he is going to want to see the smoke chamber lined properly. I never expected that I would actually get this liner into the throat of the chimney. I thought I would have to seal it at the opening for the clean-out door so of course the liner at the top is sitting about 8 inches in the chimney stump so I need to get another 8 feet of flex liner to finish the job. The one next to it is extending about 5 feet out of the "stump" and can be sealed inside a tile liner when I finish building the chimney. I never was good at math. Just to prove my point, I have to buy 394 bricks and haul them up 3 flights of stairs, not the 170 I previously estimated.

As of today the liners are plugged and the first coat of refractory mortar is applied. I've run out of refractory mortar so it will be a few days before I can finish this. I must say that being cramped up in a fireplace applying mortar with a 1" putty knife for several hours is character building. I never realized that I could get so dirty either!


Anonymous said...


Just wanted to let you know that an article about your projects on This Old Crack House has been written and included alongside your entry in the Remodel, Blog & Win online contest at

You can view it here:

Hope you approve!

Thank you for entering.

Anonymous said...

you and deborah ARE the man.