With the arrival of November, fall is nearly halfway over. That means there will soon be snow on the ground, and the days will only grow shorter. Particularly along the East coast, people everywhere have begun swapping T-shirts and shorts for jackets and scarves, prepping for the cold weather ahead. With all this cold weather comes the need to heat the house, and for some people, this involves lighting up the fireplace. Most fireplace owners know the basic needs of their fireplace, including the annual chimney sweep and inspection needed to keep everything running smoothly and effectively. However, fireplaces and chimneys have many small yet important components that homeowners may not even realize exist. One such vital piece is the chimney cap.

Chimney Cap on Chimney - Elkton MD - Ace Chimney Sweeps

Chimney caps are small structures that sit on the top of the chimney. Generally made of stainless steel or copper, this apparatus may seem minor, but it actually serves a few very important purposes. The main function of the chimney cap is to keep out any unwanted debris from the chimney. Most people first think about the little critters that may be looking for a warm home in which to wait out the winter, and this is a valid concern. Animals like squirrels and birds that stick around for the winter need a cozy, warm place to escape the elements. However, if they choose your chimney, you might be in trouble. The purpose of the chimney is to funnel dangerous fumes produced by the fire out of the house. If the path of the chimney is obstructed by an animal and its nest, the toxic gases – like the highly poisonous carbon monoxide – have no choice but to back up into your home.

Chimney caps also keep water from entering your chimney. While a few drops of water may not seem so bad, if rain and snow are allowed to flow freely down your chimney, you may experience some serious problems. For one, the moisture can rust and crack your flue lining, which exposes the interior of your chimney to the water and the heat of the fire. Over time, such an exposure can lead to dangers like structural deterioration, collapse, and even fires. Water in the chimney can also leak down into your home where you might notice stained, water-damaged drywall on the ceiling and walls surround your fireplace. These are all costly damages that could be easily avoided with the simple, inexpensive installation of a chimney cap.

If your home has a fireplace, ask your inspector or mason to check the condition of your chimney cap next time he or she comes out. You may be surprised to find that your chimney cap is very outdated or even completely missing. Ask your professional to help you choose the best cap for your chimney and to install it properly for you. If you live in the Elkton, Maryland area, contact Ace Chimney Sweeps for a professional consultation.