Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum Chimney Liners
Installing a chimney liner is the easiest way to make your chimney safer and in most cases improve the functionality of the heating appliance. Installing a high-grade chimney liner should be at the top of the priority list to ensure a safe and long-lasting installation. There are different grades and styles of chimney liners to choose from. The two most common chimney liners are aluminum and stainless steel. Knowing the differences will ensure you have a safe and functional chimney for many years.
What are the differences between the materials?
Aluminum chimney liners are not as versatile as their stainless steel counterparts. Aluminum has a melting temperature of 1215 degrees Fahrenheit. Aluminum chimney liners should only be used for lower efficient gas appliances. Generally, just a hot water heater and older natural gas appliances are approved to be used with an aluminum liner. If your appliance is rated below 83% efficiency rating, you can typically use an aluminum chimney liner. Aluminum chimney liners do cost less than a stainless steel chimney liner, however, the average lifespan of an aluminum liner is going to be around 10 to 15 years. You must never use an aluminum liner for a wood-burning appliance.
Stainless steel chimney liners have a constant running temperature of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. A stainless steel chimney liner also handles an impressive maximum heat temperature of 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. Most stainless steel liners include a warranty and the higher grade stainless steel liners will last a lifetime. Stainless steel liners are available in three grades of stainless steel: 304L, 316L, and 316Ti.
- 304L stainless steel is made up of nickel and chromium. 304L stainless steel chimney liners are only to be used with wood-burning appliances. 304L stainless steel can withstand extremely high temperatures. However, 304L is not going to withstand a highly corrosive environment.
- 316L stainless steel is made up of a higher nickel and chromium content and molybdenum is added to increase the corrosion resistance. 316L stainless steel liners can be used to vent most any type of appliance. 316L stainless steel is known as marine-grade stainless steel.
- 316Ti stainless steel is 316 stainless steel with a hint of titanium added to the mix. The addition of titanium strengthens the carbon in the steel making it more corrosive resistant at hotter temperatures. Which makes 316Ti stainless steel the best option for most appliances and is highly corrosive resistant to coal-burning.
Stainless steel chimney liners are the most versatile chimney liner on the market. They come at a slightly higher price tag, but include added benefits such as a warranty and longevity. If you end up choosing a 316L or 316Ti stainless steel, this type of material is much more versatile.
Planning Next Steps
Material aside, the most important part of the installation to consider is choosing the correct size liner. For wood and coal-burning appliances, the size of the liner will be determined by the exhaust outlet of the stove. For gas appliances, the liner will be determined by the BTU input. For oil-burning appliances, the liner is sized by the GPH or gallons per hour firing rate. Other factors such as the chimney height, connector pipe configuration, and the inside measurements of the existing flue should also be taken into account when planning the size of the liner. To move onto your next step, please find our helpful measuring forms below.