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Should I install chimney liner myself?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Tom Wallace, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    I'm interested in installing a fireplace insert and considering installing the chimney liner myself to save money. I know that I need to install a 6" liner with insulation. As a follower of Red Green, I know that if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy. So I try to be fairly handy. I've read up on these forums and know that I can use an angle grinder and/or reciprocating saw to carve a hole in my existing fireplace damper. I've got a reciprocating saw and am totally comfortable using it. I'm going to get a professional out to clean and inspect the chimney prior to my doing this. I've taken several photos to show you all what I'm dealing with. You can view them here: http://imgur.com/R4h4zZs,ii7i3ua,rMxiAcs,0LFxqUy,tCtx7nf,iN2s2tl

    My chimney flue is 11.5" x 11.5" at the top. The damper opening is only about 4" at the most, which will require me to cut into it in order to fit a 6" liner through it. I'm not sure if I should cut into the lower or upper edge of the damper, though. I'm thinking I can just order a flexible liner online, for example this one: http://www.osburnwoodstoves.com/product_p/chimney-liner-kit-20-foot.htm, cut through the damper and pass the liner through the hole to the insert exhaust.

    I've read others mention that you need a block off plate to prevent drafts from coming down the chimney into the home, but I've never welded anything before and am not comfortable with this step. Should I have a professional do this whole operation?
    jotulguy likes this.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome Tom. Can you post the photos directly to the forum? I don't trust clicking on random links. If you look down to the right when you reply you will see an Upload a File button.

    There are many posts on the site showing how they did their liner installation. A block off plate is usually made out of basic sheetmetal. If you can cut it you can install one. Here's a link on how to do it. There are lots of links at the end of the article that will show you pictures of installations.
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Why_damper_seal_is_needed/

    and here are some chimney lining videos.
    http://www.chimneylinerdepot.com/videos/
  3. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    I went with the edge of the damper closest to the exterior chimney. Put the hole where it will allow the liner to pass from stove to chimney with the least amount of bending.

    It's not a super difficult job, just very dirty, with no good way to avoid catching a lot of grit in the face. . .reminded me of dropping a rusty exhaust on a car without a lift. Doh!<>

    No welding required, just cutting and bending sheet metal. Stuff some rockwool in there too, and also at the top of the chimney.
    Tom Wallace likes this.
  4. Excavator

    Excavator Burning Hunk

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    I also used Sawzall and cut my damper frame ( exterior side) to allow 8 inch liner for my VC Encore.
    I then chiseled of some of the fire brick that was blocking straight drop of 8 inch liner.
    I used fire board from Lowes and fire insulation to fab up a block off plate using toggle bolts with a bracket to catch damper frame. No welding needed. I made a bracket about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long for each toggle bolt. Tighten each bolt up and it holds block off plate and then I tucked fire insulation ( bought when ordered liner) around liner to seal good
    Here are some pics.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Tom Wallace likes this.
  5. claybe

    claybe Member

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    Hi Tom,
    I can't figure out how to post a link to my recent install of my liner, but if you search for "how hard is it to install a liner" you should fine my thread. If you are at all handy you can definitely do it. Take your time and use the right tools and it is not hard, just really dirty work! Good luck and pm me if you have questions.
  6. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I installed my insert and liner this past fall, by myself. I used Duraliner, which is a rigid insulated liner that comes in sections 5' or shorter. It required a lot of trips up and down the ladder, but being in sections meant I didn't have to hoist the whole 25' liner up there at once.

    As has been said, there's no need to weld the block-off plate. Definitely do insulate above the block off plate / original smoke shelf, or you'll lose a lot of heat unnecessarily.

    Before you plunge ahead, I suggest you seriously consider a freestanding stove rather than an insert. I'm not unhappy with my arrangement, but the fan is noisier than I'd like and I have to leave it running all the time if I want reasonable efficiency. The thought of being able to just listen to the crackle of the fire instead of a constant electric hum and rush of air is really appealing.
  7. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Great to save money, but I usually like to do things like this to get a better job. Back in the days before the internet it was a lot more difficult to get experienced advice, you either had to know someone who was willing to oversee your work, or go out and watch such installs first hand. But now you can do all that via you computer and forums like this.
    The problem with hiring someone is, as a rule, they will want to do the minimal amount of work, for the maximum amount of money, and there are lots of ways to minimize the amount of work on a job like this.
    The other advantage of personally doing a job like this yourself is you will get to know your system better, you'll have to educate yourself on the details and be in a better position to decide how to end up with a quality job. The fact that you are talking about insulating the liner and a block off plate shows that you're already on the right track, as a lot of installers might skip stuff like that to save themselves some labor.
    Jack Fate and ddddddden like this.
  8. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Thanks very much for the links begreen. I've attached the images you requested.

    Attached Files:

  9. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Good to know. My chimney is in the center of the house, so there's no exterior wall. However, if I cut the lower/rear side of the damper opening, that looks like that will allow the liner to pass through with the least amount of bending.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    A central chimney is good news. Definitely have it professionally cleaned and inspected before proceeding. Have them give you a full report on the condition of the chimney, ID of the clay tile and note whether there are any offsets or mortar goobers hanging out on the way down that could snag the liner. Odds are you will be putting in an insulated liner, but which one will depend on the inside dimensions of the clay tile liner in the chimney. If space is tight, you may need to go with Duraliner. Plan on having a buddy help you and hold off on the beer until done (or at least until you are off the roof!). Once the damper or fireplace throat had been comprimised you are required to affix a metal plaque on the back of the fireplace that says it is no longer suitable for burning without an insert.
  11. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Thanks for the tips on the fire board and toggle bolts. Sounds like a good plan. Do I need special toggle bolts to withstand the heat? I'm having trouble picturing how and where you used the brackets. I assume the brackets are made from the same fire board, is that correct?
  12. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    My concern with a stove is that I'm not sure it would spread the heat around as well as an insert with blower. This is going in my living room. I don't want that room to be super hot and the rest of the floor to be much cooler. Am I wrong in my beliefs about the heat circulation of a stove vs an insert? I think I'll need to install a ceiling fan in the living room regardless of whether I get a stove or insert, though.

    Also, I think inserts are usually more visually appealing than most stoves. In particular, I'm looking at the Osburn 2400 (http://www.dynamitebuys.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=1054). I like the inserts that stick out into the room several inches and have a cook top. My belief is that those would heat the room ok even without the fans going since they stick out into the room like a stove. Maybe I'm wrong on that, too, though.
  13. Excavator

    Excavator Burning Hunk

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    Plain 5/16 toggle bolts about 5 inches long and the brackets are just thin steel plates bought at lowes about 3/4 inch wide and I cut them about 6 inches long. The brackes just hang on top of the damper frame with one hole drilled in for a toggle bolt to pass into and then opens up as tightened pulling the fire board up against bottom of damper frame. My second pic on left shows 1 bolt head holding board up.
    Tom Wallace likes this.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Both work well. A rear vent freestanding stove can be placed further out on the hearth so that it will convect naturally better. If you wanted the freestander to sit further back in the firebox, the block off plate can be placed lower at the lintel level and the stove ordered with a blower. That said, you'll be fine with the Osburn as long as it fits and is sized correctly for the area. How open is the floorplan here and how large an area are you heating?

    PS: just reread your first post. With that big a throat on the chimney this should be a relatively easy install.
  15. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    This is going on the second (main) floor of my house. The fireplace is in the living room, which is a fairly large room, around 25' x 16' (rough estimate). The floor itself is around 1000 sq feet and contains 3 bedrooms, a bathroom and the kitchen. There is a circular path on the floor leading around the central chimney.

    I have a fireplace in the basement as well. However, I have a large saltwater aquarium about 8 feet from it, and am concerned that if I had a stove/insert there, the aquarium would have issues with the water getting too warm and killing the corals and fish. I think that if the insert was in the basement, it may heat the home better, since the heat would rise up to the second floor, but I'd rather have it on the main floor instead.

    I've got an oil furnace in the house that has an intake vent about 8' from the fireplace in the living room. My thinking was that I could run the fans on the ventilation system in the home and that would suck warm air from the insert and push it around the house through the ducts. I know that it may not work very well push to heat from upstairs into the basement rooms (since heat rises), but I'm ok with that.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I would consider going with a smaller 2 cu ft stove then Tom. You can easily heat 1000 sq ft with one. Our climate is mild so the need for a 3 cu ft stove in this circumstance would be very rare. Take a look at the mid-sized Napoleon 1402, Osburn 2000 and Pacific Energy's Pacific Super inserts. Or if you want a value unit look at the Englander 13NCI, Century CW2500, or the Drolet Escape 1800i.

    http://www.homedepot.com/buy/englan...ing-fireplace-insert-13-nci.html#.UPxIdM_zKi0
    http://www.dynamitebuys.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=1934
    http://www.dynamitebuys.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=15705

    It looks like you have a pretty deep hearth. If so, for 24/7 burning you might want to look at a Woodstock Keystone. It has a good reputation and is a good fit for heat in our climate zone and our eternal shoulder season burning.

    http://www.woodstove.com/keystone

    If you want to chat with an excellent dealer on this subject, Tom Oyen up in Bellingham is a straight-shooter and has good pricing on PE stoves.
    http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/inswood.htm
    Tom Wallace likes this.
  17. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Yes, this concern is misplaced. The insert blower just pulls cool air in at the bottom and pushes it around the firebox and out the top. The blower doesn't have nearly enough force to push the hot air across the room, like a larger external fan would. I've seen some marketing copy claiming that an insert's fan can distribute heat around the home, but that's just silliness.

    I hear you about the looks of inserts vs. stoves; it was a major reason I dismissed a freestanding stove when someone suggested one to me. But really, if you like quiet, the fan noise matters.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It really depend on the house insulation and floorplan. With an open floor plan that is relatively square it is possible for the blower fan to establish good convective currents in the house. With a more closed or long rectangular floor plan with the stove on one far end, it's much less likely.
  19. Jack Fate

    Jack Fate Feeling the Heat

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    My thoughts exactly ;ex

    Well said
  20. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    I've read from many others on this forum about how nice it is to be able to load the wood north to south as well as east to west. That's why I was looking at inserts with big fireboxes. If I can easily my heat home with something smaller, I'm more than happy to do so. Looks like the Osburn 2000 is around $500 less than the 2400 model.
  21. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Thanks claybe, I've actually read a good portion of that thread.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Look for inserts with square fireboxes that allow a 16-18" log to be loaded N/S or E/W and you will be fine.
  23. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    FWIW, the hot air exiting my insert makes such a sharp turn upwards that the current barely clears the mantle. There's no meaningful horizontal momentum to it. If you sit a few feet directly in front of the fire you feel the radiant heat from the glass but no air movement.
  24. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Hmm, sounds like a quiet ceiling fan would be far better at spreading the heat and likely be much quieter. I still like the visual appearance of an insert over a stove, though. Something that my photos don't show is that the hearth is raised about 14" above the floor with a concrete shelf extending about 18" into the room. I think a stove would likely have to go all the way to edge of that shelf, if not beyond.
  25. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    I was measuring the height of the flu today in preparations for ordering the liner. It's just under 15'. I found that there is a bend to the side about halfway down it. Also, right above the damper, the chimney slopes away from the fireplace front about 6.-8". I don't think a flexible liner will have much trouble navigating either bend. However, due to the angle of the chimney as it approaches the damper, I think I need to cut much lower into the back of the fireplace than I first thought. This means I need to cut through or remove some of the bricks. The thing is, I don't know what's behind those bricks. I know very little about home construction. I'm also not sure what tool would work best for cutting through these bricks. Angle grinder? Should the bricks be removed?

    Here's a cross section of the fireplace I mocked to help demonstrate the issue. The yellow lines are the ideal path of the chimney liner. It will be a flexible liner, so I've got some leeway, but I know there are limits to its flexibility.
    cross_section.jpg

    Also, I had hoped to be able to remove the damper flap by removing pins as I had read online. However, this doesn't appear to have any pins to remove. Looks like the handle and flap are permanently attached to the damper opening. Is that unusual? How should I go about removing the damper flap?

    damper_closed.jpg damper_open.jpg _DSC2916.jpg

    In this one you can see how the chimney slopes back from the fireplace immediately above the damper.
    _DSC2917.jpg

    This image shows the concrete shelf in front of the fireplace. I'm not sure how much weight that can hold, which is one of the reasons I want an insert instead of a stove.
    _DSC2888.jpg

    In this one you can see how the back of the fireplace slopes forward as it goes up. These sloped bricks are where I think I need to run the chimney liner, but am nervous about cutting through or removing those.
    _DSC2895.jpg

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