Tips for Maintaining Your Chimney Cap Screen
If you have a chimney cap on your chimney, you have a very helpful accessory but one that needs routine maintenance. No need to complicate your busy schedule, though. Since your chimney also needs to be inspected at least once per year, you can just give attention to the chimney cap at the same time. The following are among the great reasons to have one of these useful accessories as well as tips for maintaining your chimney cap screen. The tips are important because the screen may need attention between annual inspections; a clogged chimney cap screen is a potential hazard.
Benefits of Chimney Caps
Chimney caps are among the least expensive and hardest working types of upgrades you can make for your home. There are numerous benefits to having a chimney cap that is complete with a mesh screen, including the following:
Spark Guard. Hot embers and sparks can exit through the chimney, putting combustible materials at risk for catching fire. The screen on a chimney cap functions as a spark guard or spark arrester that will help to prevent a hazardous fire by preventing the hot sparks from escaping the chimney.
Keep out Moisture. A chimney cap prevents rain from entering your home through the chimney. This benefit is extremely important, since moisture causes more damage to chimneys than anything else.
Keep Critters Out. During cold winters, many types of animals are naturally drawn to the warmth of chimneys. Without a screen and cap, the animals can get inside of your chimney and cause all kinds of problems, including:
- Animals often get stuck in chimneys and die, creating a horrible stench.
- Animals enter through the chimney and get into your home.
- Chimney swifts are birds that are protected by federal law. If these small birds nest in your chimney, you are required to put up with their presence until they leave with the baby birds that hatch and grow enough to be able to fly. The entire ordeal can be very noisy but lasts only until migration season. Chimney swifts will return annually, unless you install a chimney cap. If you are interested in helping the birds, you can do what many others do and install a special chimney-like bird house in your yard for their use.
Causes of a Clogged Screen
The most common reason chimney cap screens become clogged is creosote. The tar-like substance also attaches to the inside of your chimney flue. There are ways to cut back on the amount of creosote created by the fires in your fireplace. For instance, avoid smoky fires that smolder and burn only seasoned firewood.
Debris such as leaves can also clog your chimney cap screen, whether as a result of a storm or merely high winds.
It could be that the screen size on your chimney cap is too small, creating conditions in which the screen too easily becomes clogged. To provide all potential benefits, however, the gaps in the mesh can’t be very large.
Hazards of a Clogged Chimney Cap Screen
It is dangerous to use your fireplace when there is an obstruction, and that includes obstructions caused by a clogged chimney cap screen. The chimney cannot operate properly without a sufficient draft. You may experience a backdraft of smoke from the fire into your home, although getting a fire started will probably be much more difficult. If you get a fire going, it probably won’t provide as much heat. There is the potential risk that toxic carbon monoxide fumes could enter your home rather than exiting through the chimney. The fumes are deadly, invisible, and have no odor, which is why it is essential to have an operational carbon monoxide detector in your home whenever you use your fireplace.
Chimney Cap Screen Maintenance
In addition to annual chimney and chimney cap inspections, inspect your chimney cap screen or call our chimney professionals anytime your chimney does not have a proper draft and following any major storms or days with high winds.
Contact our chimney technicians today for more information about chimney caps or to have your chimney cap inspected and cleaned.