Why Chimney Caps Are Important
Anyone with a furnace, wood stove or fireplace has a chimney. What they may not realize is that many common chimney problems can be quickly solved by installing a proper chimney cap. A chimney cap protects the opening at the top of the chimney, which can be the starting site for a number of problems that arise frequently. They are cost effective way to minimize chimney problems.
One of the most important reasons to have a chimney cap is that it helps keep water out of the chimney. Water often finds its way into the flue in the way of rain or snow and then it accumulates with in the chimney liner. This can cause mold that leads to dangerous illnesses and it can also compromise the structural integrity of the chimney by causing rust in steel or cast iron; weakening the meal parts or decaying the mortar joints between the flue liner tiles. A chimney with water is also likely to become a breeding ground for pests. A chimney cap is one simple way to avoid water entry in the chimney.
Another common chimney problem is that birds and animals make their way into the chimney and set up their homes there. Not only will this cause annoying scratching sounds, but it can actually be dangerous for the people living inside the home. The birds and animals that live in chimneys often carry diseases and they do not have to enter the home to pass them on to the occupants. If the birds or animals do make their way into the house, there is always a chance they could bite someone or cause damage inside the home. When there is a cap on the chimney, they cannot get in there in the first place. The proper chimney cap should have a stainless steel mesh screen around the outside. The mesh is important too; if the mesh is too small it may tend to clog or it is too large, birds or animals may be able to enter.
When the chimney is left without a chimney cap, it is easy for leaves, twigs ,animal nesting, and other natural debris to build up inside the flue. This may not seem like a big deal but is can actually be quite dangerous. When the chimney is clogged with these materials, it cannot vent properly and smoke often comes back into the home rather than exiting it. It also prevents dangerous gases, including carbon monoxide from safely leaving the home. In worst cases, a clogged chimney can lead to a dangerous chimney fire that could potentially spread through the home. A chimney cap also acts as a spark arrestor preventing sparks from landing on the roof or nearby combustible materials.
Having problems with wind induced down drafts. Chimney caps allow the smoke and gases out, but it prevents the air that blows the gases into the home from getting in. This makes it easier to keep the fireplace or furnace burning.
A chimney cap is an inexpensive way to prevent the most common chimney problems. In fact many homeowners are tempted to simply install them themselves. However, this should be avoided in favor of a chimney sweep professional who has the experience, the right equipment and the proper chimney caps in the appropriate size to keep your chimney covered. In addition, it requires climbing on the roof to the chimney which can be dangerous for a person who is not used to working at that height.