We Offer Professional Chimney Relining Services
At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we find that the majority of chimneys in the Twin Cities were built with 7×11 sized flue tiles. Although this size tile made it easy for masons to build the chimney, they are most often too small for the chimney to function as intended. Current day code regulates the size of a flue tile. The reason for the regulation is to ensure that the chimney will draft properly and that the fireplace does not smoke out your home.
When we are called out to sweep and inspect chimneys, we often find that the homeowners are having smoke and drafting problems. Most of the time it is because the flue tile is the wrong size. The current day code states that flue tiles need to be at a 10:1 ratio. So what does that mean? Traditional masonry fireplace openings are 32×26 or 832 inches in area. A 7×11 tile is only 77 inches in area, which is an 11:1 ratio; more than likely this chimney will smoke. If you add in the fact that we are trying more and more to tighten up homes to make them more energy efficient, it is almost a certainty that this chimney system will not draft and will end up smoking out the home.
Clay Tile Liners vs. Stainless Steel Liners
In the past, most chimneys were lined with clay tiles, but as these liners commonly crack and present fire hazards, today’s chimneys are typically relined with stainless steel liners which are long-lasting and offer more efficiency and better draft.
Clay flue tiles are known to crack for several reasons, but they most often crack very suddenly due to a chimney fire or lightning strike. Though flue tiles are made to expand and contract, when they are heated up too rapidly (as occurs with a chimney fire or lightning strike), they expand too quickly and crack. Once this occurs the integrity of the chimney liner is compromised. It allows for the smoke and heat to get into the internal workings of the chimney structure, which over time, can lead to the wood around the chimney structure drying and reaching combustion stage. If the issue is not addressed in time, it can lead to spontaneous combustion and a structural fire. When chimney sweeps, home inspectors, and firefighters find cracked tiles, their first and most often recommended fix is to outfit the chimney with a stainless steel liner. As a State Licensed Contractor and a Certified Chimney Reliner, Jack Pixley Sweeps is known as the “name you can trust” when it comes to the proper installation of stainless steel liners.
Why Stainless Steel Liners?
When properly installed, stainless steel liners draft better and are more efficient than flue tiles. They also ensure that in the event of a chimney fire, a homeowner is not looking at the expensive replacement of the tiles again. Stainless steel liners come with a lifetime limited warranty; however, this warranty is void if the liner is not cleaned and inspected annually by a chimney technician.
How We Install Stainless Steel Chimney Liners
Proper installation of a stainless steel liner starts with proper sizing. This requires one of our chimney technicians to take an accurate measurement of your fireplace opening. We then follow the International Residential Code (IRC) book for the proper sizing of a stainless steel liner. The IRC states that for a chimney to draft properly the flue system must be in a 12:1 ratio for a round flue. Many times the original flue that is in the chimney was not properly sized; this can make for a challenge in getting the properly sized liner installed.
We then remove all the clay flue tiles from the chimney; this allows for proper installation of the liner and ensures that the existing flue tiles do not collapse at a later date and ruin the liner. There are a lot of companies that do not properly size the liner and fail to remove the flue tiles from the chimney. If a company does not remove the old flue tiles, it can lead to bigger issues down the road.
The most important part of installing a stainless steel liner is choosing the proper insulation for the liner. There are two choices available: The first is a Cer-Wool blanket. This is similar to the insulation used on the space shuttles. The second choice is a vermiculite- and mortar-based insulation called Chim Mix. Both insulations do not allow for the transfer of heat. We most often use a Cer-Wool blanket, but in some cases where we find chimneys that were not constructed properly or that have wood in them we use Chim Mix. The manufacturer requires that stainless steel liners be insulated as part of the warranty; it is what gives it its UL listing. There are, however, companies that do not insulate the stainless steel liner. Not insulating the liner allows the heat to radiate into the chimney cavity, which over time, can lead to the drying out of the wood around the chimney structure and spontaneous combustion/a structural fire.
For cosmetic reasons we always put a flue tile at the top of a chimney. It looks funny and is an eyesore to see a pipe sticking out the top of a chimney. We also insulate around the top of the liner inside the tile. A stainless steel rain cover or top-mounted damper is also installed as is required by the manufacturer.
Will My Home Insurance Cover My Chimney Liner?
Insurance companies will often ask us to replace the existing clay flue tile liner with another clay flue tile liner. That is easier said than done. In order to replace the flue tiles we need to get them out. That’s not the hard part. There are tools that allow for us to break out clay liner from the top of the chimney. This is the process we follow when we are putting in a stainless steel liner. The challenge is: How do you stack the tiles back in the chimney? The simple answer is you can’t. The only way to properly reinstall clay flue tiles is to take down the chimney. Clay flue tiles need to be sealed with a refractory mortar on all sides in order to make sure that they are properly sealed, and must be stacked on top of each other one at a time as you are building the chimney. The overall cost to tear down a perfectly good chimney and rebuild it is far more expensive than adding a stainless steel liner. Insurance companies will most often go with the stainless steel liner after being shown the difference in cost, but it is important to check with your insurance company if this is a concern of yours.
Are you in need of a new flue liner? Call Jack Pixley Sweeps at 763-422-0481 today or click here to schedule your appointment online.