Multiple components make up the interior and exterior of a chimney, and each part is crucial to its functionality and safety.
The chimney cap is among the critical components that protect the entire chimney system from water damage and animal infestations. However, not every homeowner knows its function and often wonders whether it is necessary to have it on the chimney.
What is a chimney cap?
A chimney cap is a protective covering located at the very top of the chimney. The cap is usually made of steel, aluminum, or copper and typically includes a protective mesh.
On brick chimneys, the chimney cap is installed directly on the chimney crown, which is a concrete slab around the flue tile. Meanwhile, on other chimneys, the cap is placed on top of the chase cover, a steel or aluminum square or rectangle-shaped metal top that fits over the chimney chase.
Why install a chimney cap?
Having a chimney cap can prevent numerous mishaps from happening, allowing homeowners to save a fair amount of cash in unnecessary repairs or damages.
A chimney cap is vital in keeping the fireplace and chimney operating safely and more efficiently. It acts as a barrier to protect the chimney flue’s top, allowing smoke to exit from the chimney while keeping critters, debris, and water out.
Here are five reasons why homeowners should be getting a chimney cap for their chimney:
Moisture is a major problem for chimneys. Without a chimney cap, water from rain and melting snow can freely fall into the flue, which can cause cracks in the chimney’s masonry and deterioration of other parts, such as the chimney flue, liners, dampers, and even the smoke chamber.
Furthermore, moisture from rainwater can produce mold and mildew, becoming a health hazard for homeowners. It can also raise the humidity in the home, making the house less comfortable.
To effectively prevent water from flowing down the flue and the chimney’s interior structure, homeowners must properly install the right size of chimney cap on the chimney.
Keeps out critters
Squirrels, raccoons, snakes, and birds are among the critters that are known to climb into chimneys as they are drawn to the warmth these provide and the height of the structure, which can keep them isolated from predators.
Some animals try to make their homes close to or inside the chimney flue, building nests for their offspring. Seeing a family of birds on the chimney may not sound too bad until baby birds or other animals fall into the chimney and fail to escape and eventually die there. Dead critters stuck in the chimney will leave a smelly, rotting corpse behind, which can pose health risks for people living in the home.
Moreover, the nests created by animals can also cause trouble to homeowners. These can block the flue, creating drafting problems, and even start chimney fires.
Installing a chimney cap can block animals from entering the chimney, save the home from potential damage, and eliminate health risks.
Prevent air-flow obstructions
Nests, leaves, twigs, branches, and other debris can also fall down the chimney. When these obstructions accumulate inside the structure, they can block smoke draft, prevent air-flow, and also become a fire hazard. Additionally, debris can also become a breeding ground for moss and milder as these can trap moisture.
It is crucial for the chimney to be clean to ensure that the fireplace and chimney will operate safely and efficiently. Homeowners can block the debris that can become obstructions by installing a chimney cap on their chimneys.
Contain fire hazards
According to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), heating equipment, such as chimneys, is among the leading causes of residential fires in New York. Home fires that originate in the chimney are often because of creosote accumulation or build-up of debris, which can block proper venting of smoke up the flue.
Accordingly, sparks and embers from the fireplace can also trigger fires. These burning particles can find their way to the flue and out through the chimney and end up on the roof or come in contact with nearby trees or power lines. Though it is not common for the sparks and embers to begin a fire, it is still possible and does happen from time to time.
To prevent fires, homeowners should conduct routine maintenance, cleaning, and inspection of their chimneys and fireplaces for possible creosote build-up and debris accumulation. Installing a chimney cap with protective wire mesh can also help reduce the risk of chimney fires caused by sparks and embers.
Reduce smoke downdrafts
Smoke downdraft happens when the wind is blowing right into the chimney and blasting smoke, hot embers, soot, and ashes into the living space. Downdraft is a serious problem as it not only causes people annoyance, but it also creates a health hazard.
Although it is impossible to stop the wind from blowing, homeowners can prevent smoke downdrafts. Installing a chimney cap can help homeowners reduce their draft problems, prevent the wind from blowing down the chimney, and block out cold air.
The 2020 Building Code of New York State requires homeowners to install concrete, metal, or stone cap on their masonry chimney. The chimney cap must also be removable to allow access to the chimney flue when cleaning.
Chimney caps are necessary to keep elements that can cause structural damage or create hazards out of the chimney. Installing a properly fitted chimney cap allows the fireplace and chimney to operate safely and more efficiently.
To guarantee proper installation of the chimney cap, homeowners should hire professional roofing and chimney contractors. They can provide adequate advice in selecting the right cap for their chimneys and assure that the chimney is accurately measured for the chimney cap’s proper fitting.
Long Island Roofing and Chimney is an experienced roofing and chimney contractor on Long Island. With over 15 years of high-quality professional services, they are among the best companies to take care of roofing, chimney, gutters, and other home maintenance and improvement projects.
Contact Long Island Roofing and Chimney today at 631-205-6177 (Suffolk County), 516-605-6108 (Nassau County), or click here to request a quote.