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The Advantages of Keeping your Chimney Cap Clean and Free of Debris

The chimney cap is one of the most important parts of your chimney. In addition to keeping hot coals and embers from flying out onto your roof, it also prevents animals, debris, and moisture from getting into your chimney.

To keep working well, chimneys and chimney caps should be regularly inspected and maintained. A chimney cap that is clean and free of debris will work more efficiently and minimize potential hazards.

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What is a chimney cap?

A chimney cap is a metal covering designed to protect and cover the top of the flue. Made of clay or metals such as stainless steel or copper, chimney caps also have mesh or wire sides that prevent animals or debris from getting into the chimney structure.

Chimney caps are important in that they protect your chimney. Water entry can cause serious damage to nearly every part of your chimney and fireplace, and debris can clog the chimney and become a fire hazard.

How do chimney caps become clogged?

The same wire or mesh that prevents animals or debris from getting into your chimney is also the reason your chimney cap may be clogged. If the spacing in the mesh is too large, small birds or mammals may be able to squeeze through and into the chimney. If the spacing is too small, it may become clogged from the inside with creosote, soot, or ash.

Likewise, over time leaves and debris may blow onto the outside of the chimney cap and get stuck, restricting airflow. During winter storms, the mesh may also be blocked by accumulating ice or snow.

Advantages of keeping your chimney cap clean

Because chimney caps play such an important role in protecting your fireplace and chimney, it is important that they receive regular upkeep and maintenance. A chimney cap that is clean and free of debris allows open airflow into the chimney. This allows fires enough oxygen to start quickly and burn fully. Likewise, a clean chimney cap reduces potential fire hazards as there is no creosote to be accidentally ignited by stray sparks or embers.

Chimney caps that are clean and free from blockages also prevent smoke or gasses such as carbon monoxide from backing up into your home.

How can I tell if my chimney cap is clogged?

Identifying a clogged chimney cap may be difficult because of their location. However, there are a number of signs that you may be experiencing a clogged chimney cap. Because a clogged chimney cap restricts airflow into the chimney, homes where the cap is partially or fully blocked may have issues starting or maintaining a fire in the fireplace.
Homeowners may be able to identify a clogged chimney cap without getting on the roof. Excessive creosote buildup on a chimney cap may cause discoloration to the surrounding bricks and mortar. Likewise, if the chimney cap is visible from the ground, you should be able to see light through the screen. If it is opaque or if there is visible debris on the exterior of the chimney cap, it is most likely clogged.

If you think your chimney cap is clogged or simply need to have an annual chimney sweep or inspection performed, contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney today!

Have Your Chimney Cleaned In Time for Santa

As the holiday season approaches, the fireplace often becomes the focal point of many family celebrations. Fireplaces have even made their way into several of our most popular Christmas songs and stories as we roast chestnuts over an open fire and hang our stockings by the chimney with care.

Often the most important role fireplaces play during the holidays is to aide in Santa’s arrival. To help the big man in red slide down your chimney without getting covered in ash and soot, have your chimney cleaned in time for Santa’s arrival!

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How often should chimneys be cleaned?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” Additionally, the Chimney Safety Institute of America also recommends that all fireplaces, flues, and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year.

Even for fireplaces and chimneys that are only infrequently or seasonally used, an annual cleaning is an integral part of making sure your fireplace system is still able to safely operate. Likewise, most homeowners lack the training, expertise, and tools to be able to correctly clean their chimney systems themselves. Even contractors, roofers, and other handymen may not have the appropriate knowledge to ensure your chimney is properly swept. Instead, homeowners should only trust their chimneys to certified chimney sweeps who can completely remove creosote, soot, ash, and other debris. This allows your fireplace to be able to burn more efficiently and with a greatly decreased risk of chimney fire.

The importance of chimney inspections

Even homeowners who regularly have their fireplaces and chimneys swept should consider having a chimney inspection. A chimney inspection will be able to identify any emerging issues or pinpoint the cause of ongoing problems such as leaks or drafts.

Most homes with well maintained chimneys and fireplaces receive a Level I inspection. During this level of inspection, technicians will inspect the accessible areas of the interior and exterior of the chimney structure. This includes the firebox, masonry of the chimney structure, and fireplace hardware such as the damper and flue. If any additional problems or areas or damage are discovered, a more intensive Level II or Level III inspection may be recommended.

Why is preventative maintenance important?

Homeowners often wait until they are experiencing problems to have their fireplaces or chimneys cleaned or inspected. By this point, however, there may already be extensive damage that will cost considerable time and money to repair.

Instead of waiting until there is a problem, homeowners should have annual preventative maintenance completed. Doing this lengthens the life of both the chimney and fireplace, allowing them to be safely enjoyed for years to come. While an annual cleaning or inspection may seem like an unnecessary expense or a service that homeowners can do themselves, investing in annual preventative maintenance can save you money in the long run by identifying issues before they become major problems.

At Mountain Man Chimney, our CSIA certified chimney sweeps will be able to clean and inspect your chimney in order to keep them in their best possible working condition. If you have not yet had your chimney swept this year, and live around Littleton, contact us today to get your fireplace and chimney in pristine condition before Santa’s big arrival!