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If you have an operational fireplace without a chimney cap, you are asking for trouble. Installing a chimney cap is an inexpensive undertaking that can prevent several mishaps and save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs. Yet, most American homeowners shy away from making this small investment only to face dire consequences in the future.
Read on to learn why you should consider installing this small, yet critical accessory of your home’s chimney system.
When the chimney has no protection by a sturdy chimney cap, pests and vermin like raccoons, birds, and squirrels make their homes in the chimney. Animals like critters have a special attraction to chimneys and come along with lice and maggots, spreading diseases and foul odor. Further, reptiles like snakes often climb through the chimney and make way into the house, posing a threat to the lives of the occupants.
A few birds like the chimney swift are attracted to the warmth provided by the chimney, causing them to build their nests and block the flue in severe winters. The problem worsens when these birds and animals get trapped in the flue or die due to the smoke emerging out of the fireplace. The carcass of these animals not only decomposes and emits a foul odor, but also prevents the smoke from leaving the chimney. Causing soot damage and severe carbon monoxide poisoning in the house.
An adequately-sized and professionally-installed chimney cap can prevent all of the aforementioned uninvited guests from entering your chimney. Invest in a good-quality top-mounted cap with a fine mesh (ideally ¾th of an inch), allowing adequate airflow, yet preventing animals from entering the chimney.
Unruly embers and sparks from the fireplace can easily travel up the flue and land on the roof. Increasing the risk of fire and roof damage. Therefore, it is advisable to install a chimney cap with a heavy-duty mesh or spark guard that can arrest the embers shooting out of the flue. Preventing them from damaging the roof or other property in the vicinity.
Further, it is a false belief that the chimney cap interferes with the flow of draft moving out of the flue. On the contrary, a chimney cap can improve the draft through the chimney. The issue of downdraft is commonly faced by households located in windy and rainy areas, such as Chicagoland or Seattle. In these areas, the most widespread challenge is the strong winds that cause the draft and smoke to sneak back into the home. Downdrafts not only reduce the fireplace efficiency but also allow poisonous flue gases to enter the home. Posing a huge threat to the occupants.
Placing a chimney cap will prevent wind-induced downdrafts, reducing the risk of poisonous gases entering your home. In regions with extreme winds, a standard cap may not be adequate to prevent the issue of downdrafts. You may need a special draft-increasing chimney cap improves the draft on the chimney. And directing the smoke up through the flue. Your chimney service professional may also recommend installing a flue stretcher that increases the length of the flue. Enabling you to reduce the amount of downdraft caused by the strong winds.
However, it is important to recognize that chimney caps can blow off in regions subject to stormy weather conditions. Hence, if you live in a city like Seattle receiving rains and winds through the year, it is wise to ask a reputed Seattle chimney sweep service for recommendations on cap weights for your area. Only a professional can guide you with the additional steps required to ensure that the chimney cap stays secure during strong winds.
When installing a chimney cap, make sure it’s more than five inches above the flue top. This will allow the smoke to easily find its way out and preventing downdrafts.
Do you want further information on the cleaning process? Take a look at our comprehensive guide on chimney cleaning.
In the absence of a chimney cap, organic and flammable debris like twigs, sticks, dry leaves, and hay may land up and accumulate in the chimney. Blocking the flue and increasing the risk of fire. Further, when your fireplace is not in use in off-seasons, the trapped organic material decomposes, emitting a bad chimney odor.
Installing a high-quality chimney cap with a mesh will prevent these odor-causing materials from entering the chimney. Reducing the chances of spending a stinky summer or spring in your abode.
Moisture can cause considerable damage to the chimney structure. This is especially true in regions receiving heavy snow and rain. Places where the masonry and mortar joints expand and contract as the water thaws or freezes. This intermittent freezing and thawing can cause cracks in the chimney structure, attracting costly repairs. The moisture can also leak inside the house attic and damage your ceiling and walls. Further, moisture damages the chimney liners, crown, and dampers, reduces the efficiency of your fireplace and increases the risk of fireplace mold and mildew.
Install a cap with a flat top surface to easily extend around the perimeter of the chimney. This will block the rain, snow, and ice from entering the chimney, thereby reducing your stress. Stainless steel and copper chimney caps are durable, moisture-resistant, and offer an attractive curb appeal to the home. They often come with a lifetime warranty.
On the other hand, caps made of galvanized steel are a cheaper and a less-durable option. Hence, they come with a limited warranty. Make sure you invest in top-quality chimney caps that offer a warranty for enduring the heat. As well as smoke, heavy rain, and snowstorms.
Lastly, if your region experiences heavy rainfall, a regular cap may be incapable of keeping the water out of the chimney. Ask your local chimney care professional about installing a multi-flue cap which can effectively tackle this situation.
Most homeowners who have a fireplace in their home don’t see the need to install a chimney cap. However, a good-quality chimney cap acts as a protective roof for the chimney. Preventing animals, organic debris, and moisture from entering into your house. Further, chimney caps also prevent downdrafts, protecting you and your family from poisonous gases and fire mishaps.
If your chimney isn’t capped yet, we are sure the information shared in this post will encourage you to make this small and wise investment. Thereby keeping your home safe and in good condition.