Building a chimney is completely within the capabilities of a do-it-yourself homeowner with average skills. Unless you are an extremely competent bricklayer with exceptional masonry construction skills, you won’t have the acumen necessary for building a traditional masonry chimney. The most feasible option for most DIY chimneys is a metal prefabricated chimney. The great thing about a prefabricated DIY chimney is that it allows you to install a freestanding fireplace or furnace in just about any location you desire.
Masonry chimneys are constructed of brick or stone. They are usually lined with either a clay tile flue or a stainless steel liner, which are designed to contain smoke, fumes, gases and embers within the structure. The by-products are safely exhausted to the open air. Masonry chimney construction is very sophisticated and requires a highly skilled mason who is knowledgeable in the local building code requirements.
Metal prefabricated chimneys are usually built out of pipe sections, commonly referred to as a United Laboratory-approved stainless steel Class “A” insulated chimney. Insulated chimney pipe can be purchase in a double-wall or triple-wall form. Double-wall insulated pipe is the most common Class ‘A” pipe used to build a DIY chimney. Double-wall chimney pipes consist of a smaller-diameter pipe inserted into a wider pipe. A non-flammable insulation is inserted between the pipes. Insulated pipe is also available in a triple-wall form.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the chimney specifications. Visit the local building code authority to ascertain what the regulations are for a DIY chimney. It would help to decide in advance the layout for the insulated chimney. There are two basic options for the layout: run the pipe through the ceiling and out the roof; or run it out of an exterior wall and up to the required height.
There are multiple variations on the basic installation techniques. One of the most popular options is to route the insulated chimney through a masonry chimney. This method is chosen by homeowners who have chimneys with deteriorated chimney linings or if the chimneys' flues are larger than the appliances instructions require.
Use only the size of pipe recommended by the appliance manufacturer. This will ensure that the appliance operates at its maximum efficiency, and that you don’t inadvertently compromise the product’s warranty.
Keep in mind that Class A insulated pipe is the only pipe that can be installed in walls, ceilings and floors. The pipe must be secured at 8-foot intervals. Make sure that you install support straps at the fittings. When passing through walls or ceilings, secure the appropriate collar for the opening. A wall thimble collar, or ceiling support collar, and other basic components for a DIY chimney are usually included as part of the installation kit.
Insulated pipe and other chimney parts can be purchased at your local heating supply story or fireplace vendors. These items can also be found online. Check the local building code for the chimney height requirement. Generally, the chimney must be at least 36 inches above the line where the pipe comes through the roof. The chimney must also be a minimum of 24 inches above anything within 10 feet of the chimney.
If you choose to run the chimney up along the building exterior, you may want to enclose the DYI chimney for aesthetic reasons. In colder locations, the building codes may require you to construct a chase, or enclosure, around the chimney. The enclosure will help insulate the metal chimney from the cold and give the project a more professional and finished appearance.
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