While you are cleaning leaves out of your home’s gutters, dealing with Christmas lights, or adjusting a satellite dish, don’t forget to check on your chimney caps while you’re on the roof. Chimney caps are those mesh-sided enclosures (usually made of stainless steel, copper, or galvanized steel) atop your chimney to prevent water, animals, bird droppings, and leaves from entering your home. A once-a-year assessment of your chimney caps’ condition can be well worth your time for protecting your house. Here are four things you can easily check on your chimney caps:
1. Are the chimney caps there? If there have been high winds in your area, your chimney caps may have blown off. Properly secured chimney caps withstand most high winds, but exceptional winds can do damage, including blowing chimney caps off.
2. Are the chimney caps securely attached? Time, wild animals, or high winds can degrade the security of your chimney caps’ attachment to your flues or chimneys. You can retighten screws or reapply a sealant if your chimney caps are no longer securely attached.
3. Are the chimney caps rusting through? Galvanized steel chimney caps generally last about three to five years before they become too rusted to serve their purposes. In salt water environments, galvanized chimney caps corrode even more quickly. Stainless steel and copper chimney caps usually have lifetime warranties, so they are good replacement choices for those who don’t want to be replacing their chimney caps every few years.
4. Are the sides of your chimney caps clogged? The mesh or screen sides of your chimney caps may get clogged with leaves or other detritus forced into the mesh by very high winds. More frequently, chimney caps’ mesh can get clogged with soot and creosote, especially if you are using unseasoned, green firewood. This clogging is most common in chimney caps designed with smaller mesh holes for use in wildfire prone areas. If the mesh sides of your chimney caps are clogged, your fireplace’s or woodstove’s draft will be reduced, leading to poor performance or even to a chimney fire.
When you head up to the roof, take along a metal tape measure, paper, and pencil. In case you find you need new chimney caps, you will have the tools at hand to measure your flues or chimney crown for their replacement chimney caps.
Susan Penney appreciates simple ways to make our homes renewing spaces for our families. She invites you to visit for fireplace accessories to serve your fire-less or your fire-filled fireplace.