We Offer Professional Chimney & Utility Flue 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, as 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, which means that, 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.

Clear as mud? If you can’t make sense of it, no worries – because we can! Call us out for service or book online today.

Clay Tile Liners vs. Stainless Steel Liners: Which Is Best?

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.

Why is this? 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. To top it all off, stainless steel liners come with a lifetime limited warranty – however, this warranty is void if the liner is not installed, and then cleaned and inspected annually, by a chimney technician.

Why do clay flue tiles crack?

There are several causes, 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, they expand too quickly and then 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. Because of this, 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.

How We Install Stainless Steel Chimney Liners

  1. 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 follow the International Residential Code (IRC) book for the proper sizing of a stainless steel liner.
  2. We then remove all the clay flue tiles from the chimney, as 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.
  3. Then comes the most important part of installing a stainless steel liner – choosing the proper insulation for the liner. 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.
  4. 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.
Close up of new stainless steel Chimney Liner with Chim Mix

Chimney Liner with Chim Mix

Close Up of Chimney Liner with Cer-Wool Blanket

Chimney Liner with Cer-Wool Blanket

Need Utility Flue Relining Services?

Homes that use gas or oil-fueled heating sources, such as a furnace and/or water heater, need to have a means of venting the fumes and exhaust made by the appliances. This is where your utility flue liner comes in.

A utility flue is essentially a duct that funnels byproducts out of your home. It may be a separate pipe within your chimney system or it might be a standalone structure. Utility flues are essential in maintaining indoor air quality by preventing the accumulation of dangerous gases. 

Unfortunately, utility flues are exposed to heat and gases that can cause them to deteriorate over time. During an inspection, we may come across gaps and cracks that have formed along the liner. Damage like this could potentially allow harmful gases to leak into your living space and put your health at risk. To limit the chances of exposure, we will install a new lining in the flue.

Is a Water Heater’s Utility Flue Liner Different From a Chimney Liner?

Yes. Although they’re similar, a water heater’s utility flue liner is different from a chimney liner. Both liners are intended to improve safety, efficiency, and performance, but they are specifically made to fit the requirements of different appliances.

  • A water heater’s utility flue liner is necessary to vent the combustion byproducts made by a gas-fueled water heater. When your water heater is in use, it produces exhaust gases like carbon monoxide that aren’t safe to inhale and need to be redirected out of your home. 
  • A chimney liner can be used for a broader range of appliances that burn different types of fuel, including fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, oil furnaces, and gas furnaces. The chimney liner provides an insulated passageway for smoke and other byproducts to exit the home, all while protecting the chimney structure from damage. Chimney liners come in various materials, such as stainless steel, aluminum, clay tiles, or cast-in-place.

How Often Does Utility Flue Relining Need To Be Done?

There are a lot of factors that can impact how often your utility flue needs to be relined. Just like your fireplace’s chimney, the utility flue should be inspected once a year to ensure that your home is safe and that all appliances are operating efficiently. Well-maintained utility flues can hold up for several years without needing to be relined or repaired. 

Damaged Utility or Chimney Flue? Schedule With Jack Pixley Sweeps Now

Don’t take chances with your heating appliances. If you think you may need a repair or if you just want to have your system checked out, get in touch with Jack Pixley Sweeps. Our customer service team will be happy to answer all of your questions and get you set up for an appointment.

Book with us online or give us a call at 763-422-0481.

We have installed, repaired and replaced hundreds of chimney crowns. You can count on us to get this chimney repair right!