As we head into spring, the days are longer, warmer and hopefully we are spending more time outside, “when it’s not raining!” Spring is also a time when we start to put together to do lists from cleaning to outdoor projects that we would like to complete.
One item that many people still ignore on these list is their chimneys. Whether they are masonry or prefabricated, they usually don’t rate high on the list for maintenance. This is unfortunate because they are an expensive addition to any home and should be maintained appropriately to provide years of carefree service.
I would like to discuss one maintenance item in this blog and that is the “chimney cap.” Chimney caps come in many different shapes, sizes, heights and materials such as stainless-steel and copper. They are installed on masonry chimneys and as in the example pictures (chase top), are installed at the top of the “chase.” Chimney caps service multiple functions. First, they prevent critters such as squirrels, racoons, or birds from gaining access and building nests. Second, they also prevent water from entering the top of the chimney, water will always go to the lowest point, which is the firebox. After years of water penetration the brick will start to deteriorate, which leads to costly repairs. Third, they act as a “spark arrestor,” this help prevent large embers from escaping the top of the chimney reducing fire hazards.
Chase tops are installed at the top of the chase (for prefab chimney installations), and prevent water from leaking onto the fireplace below. Many chase tops are installed using galvanized metal, while rust resistant, they will eventually rust. Once the oxidation process has started it’s only a matter of time before the top is perforated and starts to leak. If your chase top is rusted it might be time to think about replacing it with a high quality stainless-steel top that is warrantied forever. While they are an investment, it is a lot cheaper than replacing your entire fireplace due to water damage.
As spring rolls in for 2020 don’t forget to add “Chimney Maintenance,” to your to do list.