What is a Chimney Liner?

Chimneys constitute an important system in your home and one of the most important parts of that system is your chimney liner. Just as the name implies, a chimney liner is an insert on the inside of the flue (the open passage of the chimney).

The chimney liner safely contains all the smoke, combustion, and gases as they make their way up the chimney. It also protects the outside shell of the chimney and the surrounding structural elements from the high temperatures inside the chimney. Because of its importance and the hazardous substances that it contains, chimney liners should be cleaned and inspected every year by a licensed professional who can identify any damage or deterioration before it becomes significant.

Chimney liners come in several varieties – clay tile liners and metal liners, either rigid or flexible. Both materials will adequately protect your chimney, but they vary in their preferred applications.


Clay Tile Liner

Clay Tile liners are the older type of material. They have been installed since the early 1900s, and if an old house has a chimney liner, it will probably be a clay tile one. Clay tile liners remain popular even today, however, because they still do their job, namely withstand high temperatures without sustaining damage or becoming inefficient. They are also fairly inexpensive and long-lasting – with a lifespan of about 50 years.

Clay liners do have a few drawbacks. Although the clay tile itself is relatively inexpensive, the installation process can be tedious and costly, unless it is a brand-new chimney in brand-new construction. Replacing an old clay tile chimney liner involves chipping out the tiles from the roof with special tools and is a job best left to a professional. Another drawback is the tendency of clay tiles to trap air and affect the draft in your chimney since the interior of a clay tile liner will not be perfectly round. Even considering these points, clay tile remains an excellent chimney liner material.

Metal Flue Liner

Stainless steel liners are available in a variety of shapes and materials with stainless steel alloy being the most popular. Two forms are also available: rigid and flexible. Rigid liners are an excellent choice for perfectly straight chimneys without bends or offsets, while flexible liners are the the right choice for old chimneys that may have developed a bend in their flue because of settling over time. Flexible liners are an excellent choice it offers the advantage of less creosote buildup because the expanding and contracting they do as the chimney temperature changes. dislodges chunks of creosote as they develop.  This problem can be minimized by matching the liner alloy with the type of fuel that will be burned. Another idea is to use insulation along with the Stainless steel liner. This will help to maintain a higher temperature inside the chimney and dry up the condensation that causes the corrosion.

In spite of a few drawbacks, the ease of installation and the ability to use them in almost all types of chimneys makes stainless steel liners a widely used choice in today’s market.