A chimney cap can be a very helpful accessory to have installed on your chimney for several reasons, but it can also cause problems that you wouldn’t have otherwise. The cap is a covering at the top of the chimney, and it usually includes a protective mesh.
• One of the most important reasons to have a chimney cap with a mesh installed is to prevent animals from going inside your chimney. Animals such as squirrels, raccoons, and snakes are known to climb into chimneys; and they usually can’t get out by themselves. It’s important to avoid contact with wild animals, since they often carry disease. The animals often get trapped and die in the chimney, which means there’s a smelly carcass to deal with. Birds often build nests over open chimneys because they are drawn to the warmth the chimney provides. There are also birds called chimney swifts, and they are protected by the federal government. If a chimney swift builds a nest on the inside of your chimney, you’ll have to put up with the chirping until the birds decide to move on. But if you have a chimney cap with mesh, you should be protected from having to deal with animals inside your chimney.
• Rain is prevented from entering your chimney if you have a chimney cap. This is important because rain flowing down the chimney can get inside the house or attic and cause damage in your ceiling and walls.
• Wind can create downdrafts in an open chimney, causing the home to fill with smoke or causing cold air to enter the home. When you install a chimney cap and stop the blasts of cold air, your home will be more energy efficient.
• The protective wire mesh on chimney caps also serve as spark deflectors. In dry climates, this feature can be crucial.
• The flow of air through the chimney is important to the operation of your fireplace. Sometimes the small wire mesh on a chimney cap becomes clogged with creosote. When this occurs, oxygen needed for the fire can be cut off. The fire will be more difficult to start and it won’t burn properly if the mesh is clogged. Creosote is buildup in your chimney that can also clog your chimney cap. These flammable deposits are caused by wood smoke and can also cause chimney fires, if not removed. Soot is another deposit created during combustion, and it can also clog up the mesh.
• Be aware that anytime there are high winds in wet weather, leaves and other kinds of debris can clog your chimney cap. You may want to check it before lighting a fire, to eliminate the possibility that smoke from the fire will billow into your home instead of being able to flow up through the chimney. Similarly, heavy winter storms can result in a buildup of ice and snow, which hinders the circulation of air from your chimney.
• It’s recommended that you never burn paper in the fireplace; but in the event that you do, be aware that the ash from the paper can become trapped in the chimney cap netting.
Call our chimney sweeps to handle all of your chimney and fireplace maintenance and cleaning. Our professionals can check your chimney cap to eliminate obstructions or install a chimney cap, if you don’t have one.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110