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The Purpose and Function of a Chimney Cap

Have you ever turned your gaze upward to take a look at chimney tops in your neighborhood? Perhaps you’ve noticed that many chimneys are topped with a chimney cap, a mini roof-like structure. You might also have noticed that some chimneys are unprotected from above. So what is the purpose of a chimney cap, and why is it so important?

Keep Water Out

The No.1 function of a chimney cap is to keep water out of your chimney. Without some level of protection, water will run down the walls of your chimney. Once inside, it can damage all of the elements of your fireplace chimney. The water running down the walls of your chimney can create chimney leaks that affect the rest of your home, causing water damage to your home’s surrounding structure. The best way to protect your home from water damage, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, is to protect your chimney with a chimney cap.

Create a Barrier for Animals

Whether they’re seeking the warmth and shelter of your chimney’s interior or mistakenly stumble down your chimney flue, birds and animals have a way of finding their way in. Once inside your chimney, birds can create blockages that prevent smoke and carbon dioxide from exiting your chimney. They also can build nests, leave behind waste or even die in the chimney, create damage, leaving debris and filling your home with terrible smells. A chimney cap, outfitted with a barrier screen, prevents animals from entering your chimney, whether intentionally or accidentally.

Prevent Drafts

Your chimney is essentially a door to the outside of your home. Just as smoke can travel up and out of your chimney, cold drafts can find their way down. At a minimum, those drafts can chill your home, making it feel uncomfortable and cold. At their worst, sudden downdrafts can cause smoke, fireplace embers, and even logs to come pouring out of your chimneys. A chimney cap can prevent downdrafts, saving your home from unpleasant drafts and dangerous bursts or air that can send the contents of your fireplace flying.

Keep Out Debris

The wind that blows down your chimney and into your home also can send leaves, twigs and other debris into your fireplace. That debris can form blockages in your chimney that prevent smoke and gases from exiting the chimney or pose a fire hazard. A chimney cap blocks debris from being able to blow into your chimney.

Gaze up at your rooftop and see if a chimney cap protects your chimney. If it’s not, call Your Chimney Sweep to schedule an appointment today! We can install a chimney cap to keep your chimney, and your home, safe from water, animals, drafts, and debris.

By Joe Sauter on March 23rd, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Importance of Chimney Flashing

Chimney flashing usually goes unnoticed until it fails. Flashing surrounds the base of your chimney to keep water from leaking in where your chimney structure meets your roof. When chimney flashing fails, water can seep in around the chimney, resulting in ugly ceiling spots, wavy wallboard, peeling wallpaper, and the rotting of your home’s joists. So how do you know if your chimney flashing will keep your home safe from water damage?

Proper chimney flashing installation

Many roofers, builders, and masons can rush the installation of chimney flashing, failing to follow the steps of proper installation and potentially leaving your home susceptible to water damage. When installed properly, chimney flashing features two layers. First, a layer of L-shaped metal is woven into your chimney’s shingles, with one side lying flat against your roof and the other side flat against your chimney. To completely seal the flashing, another layer of metal flashing is embedded into your chimney’s masonry with mortar, and then the metal is folded down over the bottom layer of flashing to keep water out.

Types of chimney flashing

There are several materials used for chimney flashing, and the type of metal used will affect the longevity of your flashing. In the north, lead is commonly used as flashing because it molds easily around corners. On higher-end jobs, homeowners will opt for stainless steel or copper, which won’t rust, corrode or develop holes like other flashing materials can. Copper has the added benefit of being able to be soldered at the corners, while other metals would form seams that need to be caulked to keep water out. Caulking is often the first thing to fail in the flashing, letting water into a home.

How to tell if your chimney flashing is secure

Unfortunately, the first sign that there’s a problem with chimney flashing is often a water leak. If you don’t want to be surprised by an ugly spot on your ceiling or discolored or warping wallboard, it’s worth having your chimney flashing inspected. You can ask your chimney sweep about the state of your chimney flashing during your annual inspection. Knowing that your chimney flashing is improperly installed or starting to corrode can help you address the flashing before it causes a problem in your home.

What to do about bad flashing

If your chimney flashing is already failing, or if it’s improperly installed or starting to break down, don’t wait until you have major water damage to have it fixed! Chimney experts are generally the best option for repairing faulty flashing, as roofers may often band-aid the issue and fail to resolve the problem. If you need to have your chimney flashing inspected or repaired, call Your Chimney Sweep to schedule an appointment today!