Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Saga of Lining Our Chimneys.

The Prologue

We decided years ago that it would be "sooooo kewl" to be able to use all seven chimneys in this place. Like at Christmas or for a special occasion and I have had six years to plot and plan how I was going to achieve this. If you research chimney lining you will discover that there are several ways to line a chimney. They all say that they are better than the competition and they are all fairly expensive if you pay someone else to do the job.
There is also some math involved. The area of the flue has to be at least 10% of the area of the firebox opening in order to ensure proper draft. In our case this would mean building smaller fire boxes in several cases which is fine because modern codes require that fire bricks be used to line a fireplace using refractory mortar in the joints. There is also one room where we decided that a wood stove would be installed because the original marble fireplace had been removed 40 years ago and would be extremely hard to replace.
If I put on my "Superman underoos" I could do all this. It is not beyond my level of confidence and our roof isn't that steep. Besides, it sure beats plumbing! However it will have to be done in two or three phases because of cost. We currently have three stainless steel chimney liners. All are 8 inch round flex liners. One 25 feet long and two twenty feet long. The longest one is laying like a snake on the third floor. It has the ceramic blanket and stainless steel mesh wrap which is rather expensive. The other two arrived about three weeks ago and one is still in the box . The other one is in the appropriate chimney already held up by a stick of wood. These two will get a mixture of vermiculite and Portland cement poured around them for insulation. That is easier and cheaper for me to do. If it had not rained two weeks ago and I hadn't skedaddled out of town for 5 days last week all the liners would be in their chimneys waiting to be plugged and sealed.
So, a couple of weeks ago I went to get a permit from the city building inspection office. Do I need a permit? I really doubt it but if there was a fire and the chimneys were not inspected by some kind of professional, I'm sure our insurance company would try to re neg on the contract. So I went to the permit office to apply for the permit. Since there wasn't a box to check on the form for lining chimneys I had to sit and talk with someone who knows nothing about lining chimneys. She called the supervisor and put me on the phone with him. He knew something about lining chimneys but not what I was doing. In fact he did ask me WHY I was wanting to line my chimneys and whether my fireplaces had smoke shelves. After throwing words at him like refractory mortar, ceramic blanket, vermiculite cementeous plug, chimney cap, titanium steel flex-liner and house built around 1845 he granted the permit and said that since I seemed to know what I was doing that he would just shine a light up the fire box to make sure everything was sealed properly.

I will update this info as I do the work so everyone out there in "Houseblogland" can learn that this is not an unachievable task. What does it cost to line a chimney? That depends on how you line it and what special liner attachments you use. The long liner and wrap kit was about $600 on eBay. The two 20' liners were bought on eBay for under $600. A 5' roll of ceramic blanket was $30 on eBay. (The ceramic blanket will be used as a non-combustible plug where the liner meets the smoke chamber and sealed with refractory mortar on some of the chimneys.) Vermiculite comes in huge 20 lb bags at $12 a bag. I may need 12 bags for two chimneys. One chimney has a large volume. I wanted to try to double line it so I could install an additional wood stove. There is a bend in the chimney and I can't get two liners down it without them touching at this bend. They need to be separated by 2 inches. I may end up pouring loose vermiculite down this one so that I have options in the future. Refractory mortar is $20 a gallon at a brick yard. For me, when all is done, the cost will be about $400 per chimney, some are more costly than others.
I think Santa is in for a surprise this year!

Stay tuned boys and girls. This information is really smokin'!


John said...

It sounds like a hell of a job, but, having priced replacing an entire fireplace & chimney, lining one sounds a hell of a lot better. Hell, you can't even get the bricks for $400.

Best of luck with the chimney lining and thanks again for bringing my top-notch dumbass post to my attention. No one robbed us while I was in Boston, so all is well.

Anonymous said...

Bog words go along way with our city officials and authorities too.
SOunds like you have a ginormous job ahead but one well worth it.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog and check it often. One problem, though: the green border on the left-hand side covers some of the text, making it hard to read. Photos come out overlayed on the green, but the text is behind it. Could it just be my computer/monitor?

Gary said...

One problem, though: the green border on the left-hand side covers some of the text, making it hard to read. Photos come out overlayed on the green, but the text is behind it.

You must be using Firefox. It looks fine with IE. I haven't figured out how to fix it yet.

Anonymous said...

this is unbelievably impressive. if you told me you were building a rocket ship and going to mars i couldn't be more shocked and awed. you are shocking. you are awesome, and this gives me the courage to contemplate many previously uncontemplated projects. thank you! good luck!

Wren said...

Wow, how dedicated are you? We just put ventless gas logs into our old fireplaces. Gotta say though, they look great and do the job.

Foreverglow said...

I think having 7 functional fireplaces really is soooo kewl. It's a shame that most fireplaces don't work in older homes.