Atop your chimney sits one of its most important components: Your chimney cap. The chimney cap is the metal peak on top of your chimney. Usually, it is separated from the chimney by a metal case that allows smoke to exit your chimney while protecting your chimney from outside elements. Your chimney cap protects your chimney and your home in several ways.
Your chimney cap keeps water out.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has labeled a secure chimney cap as your chimney’s best defense against water damage. A secure chimney cap prevents water from flowing down the inner walls of your flue, causing cracking or spalling in your chimney liner and rusting on your damper or the metal components of your fireplace.
Your chimney cap keeps sparks in.
The distance between your firebox and the top of your chimney seems like a major journey for sparks, but burning embers can make their way out of the top of your chimney, especially if you ever have a chimney fire. Your chimney cap keeps those sparks in, protecting your roof from burns, or even worse, from catching fire due to stray sparks.
Your chimney cap keeps animals out.
Animals love a warm chimney, especially when temperatures drop. They can make their way down into your chimney to build a nest. Or, other animals like bats and birds can fly in and become trapped. Animals in your chimney can obstruct smoke trying to exit your chimney, putting your home at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or a chimney fire. Trapped animals can cause an unpleasant smell. A chimney cap can help you avoid the dangers of a nesting or trapped animal and save you the costs of having to have an animal or nest professionally removed.
Your chimney cap helps you avoid debris.
Just like animals, leaves, twigs and other debris can fly into an unprotected chimney cap. That debris can build up and block the flow of smoke out of your home. Or, it can catch fire and ignite your chimney. A chimney cap can prevent debris from finding its way into your chimney.
Your chimney cap blocks downdrafts.
A strong burst of wind can force its way down your chimney. If you have an open-heart fireplace with a fire burning, that can force smoke and ash back into your home. If a fire isn’t burning, it can cool your home, lowering your home’s heating efficiency. A chimney cap can block downdrafts to keep your home safer and warmer.
Have your chimney cap inspected!
Over time, chimney caps can become dislodged, or they can rust or corrode. Your chimney cap should be inspected regularly, along with the rest of your fireplace and chimney system. The Chimney Sweeper can help! We can make sure your chimney cap is in good repair and in place. If it’s not, we can help fit your chimney with a new chimney cap to keep your chimney, fireplace and home safe and free from water, debris and wind damage.
Your fireplace adds warmth and comfort to your home during the cold winter months. It also can add worry, about potential burns or a potential home fire. Following our fire safety tips can help keep you, your family, and your home safe while still enjoying the benefits of your fireplace or heating stove.
- Create a “safe zone” around your fireplace. Make sure all flammable materials, including furniture, papers, blankets, pillows, toys, and décor, have been removed from the area surrounding your fireplace. There should be at least a 2-foot “safe zone” surrounding your fire place that is devoid of anything that could burn.
- Place a metal screen over your open-hearth fireplace. A metal screen prevents embers from jumping out of the fireplace and igniting a nearby object. It also keeps things from accidentally falling into the fireplace.
- Consider a safety gate. If you have children or pets in your home, you may want to consider installing a safety gate around the fireplace. There are safety gates specifically made for hearths. They keep children and pets a safe distance away and include a door for easy access to the fireplace or stove.
- Only burn items intended for your fireplace. Burning cardboard, Christmas trees, wrapping paper, trash or other items can cause a dangerous flare up or produce toxic fumes. Never use a fire accelerant, as they can cause a fire that is too hot for your chimney to handle.
- Leave fireplace doors open while a fire is burning. Closing or partially closing the glass doors on an open-hearth fireplace causing fires to burn and draft improperly, which can pose a hazard.
- Allow ashes to cool for at least 24 hours before removing them from the fireplace. If you remove ashes too early, you risk removing still burning embers. Always remove ash to a metal bucket, and remove it from the living areas of your home to a well ventilated area, as smoldering ashes can release carbon monoxide.
- Have your chimney cleaned at least once per year. Dirty, creosote-lined chimneys are the leading cause of chimney fires. Having your chimney cleaned and inspected each year ensures that it is free from creosote, obstructions and damage that could cause a chimney fire. If you burn more than three cords of firewood per year, your chimney should be cleaned twice during the wood-burning season.
- Equip your home with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. There should be a smoke and carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, and directly outside sleeping areas. Make sure you change the batteries at least twice per year, and test the detectors regularly to make sure they’re working. Everyone in your home should know what to do if the detectors sound: Exit the house and meet at a predetermined location.
If you have any questions or concerns about the safe operation of your fireplace, heating stove or chimney, call the experts at The Chimney Sweeper. We consider it part of our jobs to make sure you know how to use your fireplace safely.