Why a Good Chimney Cap Is so Important
A chimney performs critical tasks in allowing smoke and toxins to be vented from the firebox to the outside air while providing a safe barrier between intense heat and surrounding building materials of the home. No chimney, however, can do its job optimally without that little thing that sits on the top – the chimney cap.
Running a fireplace without a chimney cap is asking for trouble. Yet amazingly many homeowners choose to take their chances and not have a cap installed. Here is why chimney caps are so important.
1. Keep out the rain
With a flat, solid top that extends out over the perimeter of the chimney, a chimney cap blocks rain water from getting into the structure. Water and chimneys don’t mix as deterioration from water can compromise the bricks and mortar of a chimney, which can lead to major damage or a fire. It’s a good idea to visually check your firebox periodically for signs of condensation or actual water. If you see any of this, contact a fireplace service professional immediately.
2. Fire prevention outside
During a fire, sparks and embers travel up the chimney. If there’s no cap, they can keep on traveling and land on the roof or nearby trees. The wire mesh sides of chimney caps are open enough to allow smoke to pass through but tight enough to prevent fiery particles from getting out.
3. Block pests
Over the warm season, many different types of animals can get into an open chimney and build their nests. Many of these animals (squirrels and birds, especially) often die inside a chimney, creating an obstruction – not to mention a bad odor inside the home. Animals that don’t die can make their way into your house. A good chimney cap is 100% effective in preventing all this.
4. Block debris
If you have a tree near your chimney or if you live in an area with periodic high winds, it’s possible for all manner of obstructions to enter the chimney. Leaves, twigs and other flying debris can add up over time, finally resulting in a dangerous drafting problem. Additionally, the debris is ideal fodder for a chimney fire. Chimney caps block all debris.
Every one of these are very good reasons to have a chimney cap installed. Like the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and with chimneys, the cost and consequences of damage or obstructions resulting from an open top can add up to much more than a pound.
One way to make sure every element of your chimney and fireplace are in perfect working order is to schedule an annual inspection and cleaning. A certified chimney sweep is able to spot problems early, before they become costly disasters. The chimney sweep also will remove flammable creosote from the inside of the chimney, thereby greatly reducing the possibility of a chimney fire.
Is it time to have your chimney looked at or have a chimney cap installed? Chimney Specialists of Highland, Wis., provides full-service maintenance, inspection, cleaning and repair of all types of fireplace systems. Arrange an appointment, or get your questions answered at (608) 929-4887. You can visit our hearth store at 869 Main St.