Guide on Constructing a Fireplace Chimney

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Homeowners seeking to reduce heating costs can add a fireplace to their homes. However, it is crucial to have a chimney to ensure the smoke from burning wood leaves the house. While it is best to hire a professional for the job, determined individuals can construct their own chimney. Here are some basic things to consider:


  • Calculate the flue dimensions and minimum height: The sizes required for the flue and height of the chimney are relative to the open area of the fireplace. It is essential to review the fireplace manual or check with the Brick Industry Association for dimension charts and formulas.
  • Support the masonry: Chimneys are often the heaviest part of a house and must be constructed on an 8-to-12-inch concrete footing at or below the foundation of the house. They should extend at least 6 inches in all directions around the edges of the chimney.
  • Keep away from combustible materials: Masonry chimneys must be at least 2 inches away from combustible materials on all sides.
  • Chimney lining: It is crucial to line the chimney with vitrified fire clay tile to withstand rapid temperature fluctuations.
  • Chimney wall thickness: Chimneys must have walls that are at least 4 inches thick, not including the flue. Exterior chimneys require walls that are 8 inches thick to withstand weather elements.
  • Chimney top clearance: The chimney should extend 2 feet above anything within 10 feet horizontally of its peak. It is essential to cap the chimney to keep birds and other animals out.


1. What materials are needed to build a fireplace chimney?

The materials needed to build a fireplace chimney include bricks, mortar, metal flashing, flue liner, and a chimney cap. You will also need tools such as a trowel, hammer, chisel, level, and measuring tape. It’s important to choose high-quality materials to ensure your chimney is durable and safe.

2. How high should a fireplace chimney be?

The height of a fireplace chimney should be at least 3 feet above the roofline and 2 feet higher than any structure within a 10-foot radius. This is to prevent downdrafts and ensure proper ventilation. Additionally, local building codes may have specific height requirements that you need to adhere to.

3. What is the purpose of a chimney liner?

A chimney liner is used to protect the chimney walls from the corrosive byproducts of combustion, such as creosote. It also helps to improve draft and prevent heat transfer to combustible materials. There are different types of chimney liners available, such as clay, metal, and cast-in-place liners.

4. Can a fireplace chimney be built without a professional?

A fireplace chimney can be built without a professional, but it’s important to have a solid understanding of building codes and safety regulations. Additionally, if you’re not experienced in masonry work, it’s recommended to hire a professional to ensure the chimney is built correctly and safely.

5. How often should a fireplace chimney be cleaned?

A fireplace chimney should be cleaned at least once a year to remove creosote buildup, which can cause chimney fires. If you use your fireplace frequently, you may need to clean it more often. It’s also recommended to have your chimney inspected annually by a professional to ensure it’s in good condition.

6. What is the purpose of a chimney cap?

A chimney cap is used to prevent debris, animals, and rainwater from entering the chimney. It also helps to prevent downdrafts and sparks from escaping the chimney. It’s important to choose a chimney cap that fits your chimney properly and is made from durable materials.

7. How much does it cost to build a fireplace chimney?

The cost of building a fireplace chimney can vary depending on the materials used, the height of the chimney, and whether or not a professional is hired. On average, it can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 to build a fireplace chimney.

8. How do you ensure proper ventilation in a fireplace chimney?

To ensure proper ventilation in a fireplace chimney, it’s important to choose the right size flue liner for your fireplace. You should also make sure the chimney is tall enough and free from any obstructions, such as tree branches or nearby buildings. Additionally, keeping the damper open while using the fireplace can help improve ventilation.

9. Can a fireplace chimney be built on an exterior wall?

A fireplace chimney can be built on an exterior wall, but it’s important to ensure the wall is structurally sound and can support the weight of the chimney. Additionally, you may need to install a heat shield to protect the wall from the heat generated by the fireplace.

10. How long does it take to build a fireplace chimney?

The time it takes to build a fireplace chimney can vary depending on the complexity of the design and the experience of the builder. On average, it can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to build a chimney.

11. What is the lifespan of a fireplace chimney?

The lifespan of a fireplace chimney can vary depending on factors such as the materials used, the frequency of use, and the maintenance it receives. With proper maintenance and regular cleaning, a well-built chimney can last for several decades.

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