clay chimney liner cost

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2022

How Much Does Installing a Clay or Terracotta Chimney Liner Cost?

Low Estimate

$1,900 – $2,395

Average Cost Estimate

$2,400 – $3,295

High Estimate

$3,300 – $4,300

Chimney Height 12 – 16 Feet 16 – 25 Feet 16 – 25 Feet
Flue Size Small Medium Medium to Large
Minor Repairs to Chimney No Yes or No Yes
Materials Cost Up to $550 $450 – $750 $750 – $1,250
Chimney Cleaned? No Yes Yes
Installed By Pro Pro Pro
Permit & Inspection $0 – $200 $75 – $200 $75 – $200+

Sections: Overview | Product Costs | Installation Cost | DIY or Pro

Clay or Terracotta Chimney Liner Overview

Your home’s chimney liner is the best defense against a chimney fire that can quickly become a house fire. When the terracotta chimney liner is cracked or the mortar securing pieces together fails, hot gases can seep through the damage and heat wood framing to combustible temperatures.

Chimney flues are also used to vent gas fireplaces, furnaces, wood/pellet stoves and other combustion appliances.

Homeowners that value traditional materials consider installing a new clay liner. Clay has been used in chimneys for centuries, a much longer track record and more visually appealing than newer stainless steel chimney liners.

However, clay chimney liner cost is significantly higher. The repair process includes breaking out the existing clay tile flue, cleaning the interior of the chimney and replacing the flue in sections – typically 24” in height. Mortar is used to secure the flue sections.

On this page of Business Finance News, or cost estimates, replacement terra cotta chimney liner cost factors are listed to give you a clear idea of what your costs will be. Replacement cost estimates from reliable estimating sites are included below. Reader-submitted prices with details about the work give a clear idea of costs for projects like yours.

Supplies Cost Details

Chimney Liner Clay Tile Price Factors

These factors will help you narrow down the cost of chimney liner replacement

  • DIY vs Pro – Few homeowners tackle this job, but tools for breaking out the old liner and clay sections for installing a new liner are readily available.
  • Height of the Chimney – The higher the chimney, the more material and labor are required.
  • Width of the Chimney – Chimney flues range in size from 6”x6” to 24”x24”.
  • Number of Flues – Cost per flue is usually slightly lower when the chimney contains two or more flues. This is because the crew is on site with all its equipment.
  • Installation Method – The most common and affordable means of clay chimney liner replacement is from the bottom and top, working only within the chimney. In some cases, the chimney itself must be opened up from the outside. This approach costs much more.
  • Condition of the Chimney – Chimney repair is not included in this clay chimney flue replacement estimate. It is mentioned because many homeowners learn the entire chimney needs repair or replacement once it is inspected.
  • Chimney Cap – A cap should be installed to prevent rain, birds and rodents from entering the chimney.
  • Addition of a Decorative Chimney Pot – This optional addition for topping the chimney in place of a cap will raise the cost significantly.

Did you know? An insurance company will deny a claim for a house fire if it can show that the homeowner knew the chimney liner needed repair and used the fireplace anyway. Documents from a chimney cleaning or inspection stating the poor condition of the chimney can be enough to stand up in court.

How Long Will a Clay Chimney Liner Last?

While the cost of a clay chimney liner is much higher than installing a stainless liner, a clay liner lasts much longer. Most remain in good condition for 40-50 years vs 15-20 years for steel.

Cost of Installation Supplies and Prep

Here are tools, materials and maintenance needed for clay liner replacement.

The process of breaking out a clay flue is discussed in the DIY section below.

  • $120 – $200 | Tile Breaker and Drill Adapter.
  • $12 – $18 per foot | Rods – The rods are available in sections 4 to 6 feet long. They are linked together to lower the breaker tool down the chimney.
  • $85 – $170 | Tile Breaker Kit Rental based on number of rods/height of chimney.
  • $10 – $50+ | Flue Sections 24” High in various widths and shapes including square, rectangle, oval and circle.
  • $400 – $1,500+ | Decorative, Optional Chimney Pots to top the chimney. These prices are not included in our price ranges above.
  • $150 – $300 | Chimney Cleaning – Once the tile is removed, the chimney should be cleaned because cracks in the tile and mortar probably allowed creosote to build up inside the chimney. This cost will be included in the estimate if a company does the entire project. If you DIY, this should be done prior to installing the new tile.
  • $120 – $300 per day | Lift Rental – Chimneys that cannot be safely accessed from the roof require a lift. If the chimney repair contractor doesn’t have one, a lift will be rented.
  • $40 – $100 | Installation Accessories including grout and grout tools.

Permits, Inspection, and Installation Costs

You might need a mechanical safety inspection to ensure the new flue is properly installed. The contractor you choose should know whether you need one – and will pull the permit and charge you for its cost. Or you can consult your local authorities for DIY work.

  • $50 – $200 | Permit with Inspection (when needed)

Chimney Liner Installation Labor Factors

This is specialty work, so labor costs are significant. If billed by the hour, expect the charge to be $50-$80 per hour.

The number of hours it will take to install a terracotta chimney flue depends on these factors:

  • Roof Height – The higher, the costlier.
  • Flue Dimensions – The bigger, the more expensive.
  • Repair Work to the Chimney Bricks – Minor touch-ups like replacing mortar in a few spots might be included in our flue replacement estimates. More extensive repairs are not. They constitute a separate exterior home repair project.
  • Job Difficulty/Complexity – Due to site conditions such as a very steep roof, some jobs are more difficult, so take more time.
  • Number of Flues – As noted, when multiple liners are replaced, cost per liner is lower than when a single liner is replaced.

Completed Installation Time

  • Up to 1 Day | Breaking out the old liner.
  • 2-6 Hours | Chimney cleaning based on chimney height, size and condition.
  • 1-2 Days per home story | A single-story chimney flue is replaced in a day or two. Multiple-story liners require more time.

DIY or Hire a Pro

This is a challenging job best left to professionals. Even breaking out the old tile, while it seems easy and a heck of a good time, can go wrong without an experienced touch.

The breaker tool is attached to a rod, which is attached to a drill. As the drill spins, the weights spin, striking and breaking up the tile. (Watch on Reddit) The fireplace or other location the chimney serves will have to be prepared to receive the broken tile and mortar. Tarps are used and the area is taped off to prevent dust from making a mess of your home. Additional rods are added as needed to go deeper into the chimney.

The breaker tools can damage chimney bricks and house framing, adding significant cost to the project.

Once the old clay liner is out and the chimney interior is cleaned, each section of flue must be fitted and mortared into place. That’s a difficult task in a single-story chimney. The challenge is exponentially greater in higher chimneys.

The pros have the experience, skills and tools to do the job properly – which is very important when the safety of your home is at stake. I haven’t replaced a clay tile liner and won’t hesitate to call a contractor if the need arises.

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