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How To Replace A Clay Chimney Flue Liner

Clay Chimneys

Having a fireplace in your home is considered a luxury. This luxury provides the homeowner with the ability to heat the home more cheaply during cold nights. With that being said, the chimney also comes with necessary maintenance.

Like everything else in and around your home, yearly or even monthly maintenance is necessary. One of those areas to inspect in the chimney are the clay chimney flue liner. How do I replace a clay chimney flue liner? Well, you will want to inspect the liner of the chimney first. This will determine the number of repairs required. Your repairs could range from needing a whole new liner, to just replacing a few cracked or broken tiles.

Let’s take a look at why clay chimney flue liners are important and what they are made out of. It’s also important to know what happens in the home if the clay chimney flue tiles are damaged.

What Is A Clay Chimney Flue Liner

Clay chimney flue liners are hollow clay tiles that are made in a rectangular shape. They are stacked on each other with mortar inside the chimney wall. These liner tiles provide a smooth surface inside the chimney and this allows the smoke from your fire to rise up and out of the chimney more efficiently.

The smoke will leave creosote on the liner as it travels up and out of the top of the chimney and can create a fire hazard. It is recommended that you do a chimney sweep to clean your flue liner every year, according to how often you utilize your fireplace.

Chimney sweep is important maintenance.
Chimney sweep

How to Replace A Clay Chimney Flue Liner

  1. Take a look at the bottom of the chimney – There is a clean-out door you need to open and clean out the ash and soot. When cleaning, check for shards of clay. If you find any, this means one of the liner sections is broken.
  2. Climb to the roof (safely) – shine a light down the chimney. Look for any cracks or missing pieces of the flue liner. If there are some, you can remove them and replace them with mortar. However, if the broken parts are deeper in the chimney, then the best thing to do is install a metal liner.
  3. Uncoil a flexible metal liner on the roof – measure from the top of the chimney to the thimble or damper. Cut the liner but make sure it is one foot longer.
  4. Drop a rope – you will need someone to help with this. Drop a rope from the top of the chimney to the bottom. Then, tie the rope to the metal liner and feed it to the top of the chimney. Be careful not to bend it anymore than is necessary.
  5. Stop feeding the liner – do this once it reaches the level of the thimble. Attach the bottom to the inside of the thimble and the top to the top of the chimney. This is done with a chimney cap that comes in the packaging.

Why It Is Important To Maintain the Chimney Flue Liner

Repairing the chimney flue is necessary if your clay flue tiles are cracked or broken inside the masonry chimney. If you conduct an inspection of your chimney and find broken or cracked clay flue tiles, or if the mortar joint between your tiles is failing, you will want to make the repairs as soon as possible.

Failure to make these repairs will allow chemicals such as carbon monoxide to enter your home as your fireplace is being used. Maintenance is important on the chimney and you don’t want to push this aside.

Broken clay flue tiles or cracks in the mortar joints could also result in a possible house fire. Your burning fire is a great way to warm your home, however, if there is damage to the insides of your fireplace, carbon monoxide, creosote, and other chemicals could enter your home rather than being sent outside the home.

Inside look at a chimney for changing the flue liner.
Inside look at a chimney

Cost To Replace Flue Liner

The average cost to replace a clay chimney flue liner is about $2,500. However, should your chimney require more repairs, this could end up costing you between $5,000 and $7,000. It is also recommended that if you need to repair your clay flue liner, that you consider replacing the clay with a metal aluminum liner. The cost of aluminum or stainless steel liners as a do-it-yourself project will cost you around $625.

Other Recommended Maintenance

There are a variety of other areas that you should look at when you are replacing your chimney clay flue liner. One of those areas is the counter flashing. Let’s take a look around it to make sure that the counter flashing was installed correctly. You should also expect to keep up with chimney maintenance during the warmer months to make sure the fireplace and chimney are ready for the colder temperature seasons that lie ahead.

Your older homes usually have a wooden lintel while new homes use a variety of materials such as stone, brick, steel, or concrete. It is a great idea to check the lintel of the chimney while you are also repairing the clay flue liner.

While you are up on the roof doing repairs, it is a great idea to also check the roof as well in the summer. Looking for any missing shingles, drip flashing, and that the eaves are attached, and the gutters are clean. You do not want a backup of water in the home.

A fireplace is attached to the chimney.
Typical fireplace

When Do I Call A Professional

When you are remodeling or repairing your fireplace, hire an inspector from the Chimney Safety Institute of America so you know you will have a trained professional.

The inspector can look at the remodeling or repair plans and make sure they will be up to fire code. You should always consult a professional when it comes to anything related to your roof, which includes fireplaces and skylights, to name a few.


Many people that have chimneys in their homes, do not even think about the maintenance needed to maintain a safe chimney. Getting a roof and chimney inspection done once a year is a great idea. This is especially important if you live in an area where the weather is changing with the seasons.

Often we don’t know if the snow or rain or winds have damaged our chimney until the inspection is completed. Call on Boggs Inspection Services to get your yearly home inspection completed in the Lacey, WA, and surrounding areas.

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