A chimney cap prevents entry of rain and animals and helps contain sparks. Chimney caps can also help solve certain chimney performance problems. The best investment you can make to protect your chimney is a good quality chimney cap.
A chimney is built from the ground up, but it deteriorates from the top down. Rain and snow are responsible for most common chimney problems; rain is absorbed into the bricks and mortar, and weather changes cause expansion and contraction which deteriorates the masonry, compromising your chimney's structural stability.
BIRDS & ANIMALS
Chimneys offer a nice, tall place to live with secure protection. An open chimney is an invitation to birds, animals (even snakes) to take up residence. Animal and bird nests are highly flammable, baby birds make incessant noises that will drive you crazy, and if the critter can't exit through the top of the chimney, she and her babies will try and exit through the open fireplace and right into YOUR house! Raccoons and squirrels can get into the house and may cause thousands of dollars in damage to furnishings, rugs, curtains and everything in reach in their desperate attempt to escape from your home. They also harbor lice, fleas, rabies and other diseases that can put your family at risk.
It's commonly thought that the baby critters will grow up and leave the nest, exit the chimney top, and then you're safe to use the chimney. Not true! First of all, far too many babies cannot escape the chimney and will die in there, creating horrible odors and maggot infestations. Second, the remaining nesting materials can block the chimney so that fumes and smoke cannot escape, and may even provide the fuel for a raging chimney fire.
Keep in mind that migratory birds are considered endangered and cannot be removed by law. Chimney sweeps are not even allowed to remove a nest that's being used by chimney swifts. After the animal or bird evacuates your chimney you must have the chimney cleaned to remove the nesting materials, then install a chimney cap to prevent their return. (Many types of birds build two nests per year, and will come back to the same spot to raise their next family. The screening built into the cap is carefully designed to allow proper drafting yet keep out uninvited wildlife.
SPARK ARRESTORS & PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS
A good chimney cap also includes a screen that helps control sparks. On windy days, chimney draft can be affected and if sparks exit the chimney they can ignite nearby trees, leaves and other flammables. If your home is located within a wooded area, a chimney cap with a spark arrestor is a must.
WHAT KIND OF CHIMNEY CAP IS BEST?
First of all, those cheap black chimney caps you find at home improvement stores aren't worth a trip to the top of the chimney to install them. They will rust out rapidly - perhaps in a year or so - and leave you with a false sense of protection while also causing nasty looking rust stains on your chimney. A good quality stainless steel or copper chimney cap will last for decades, saving your chimney from weather related deterioration while also keeping birds and animals out of your home. Our caps provide a LIFETIME WARRANTY, so you'll only need to buy it once!
Standard sizes in stainless steel average around $100; copper caps are about triple the price. We also offer multi-flue caps that will cover 2 or more flues in a shared chimney, with custom sizes available as well for odd sized chimneys.
"YES definitely install (a chimney cap). You'll be SO happy you did! We didn't have one at first and a raccoon got in and had a baby there! We kept hearing them, moving around and all that, we could NOT figure out what it was for the longest time. We also have one of those gas fire logs, so one day after a little get together at the house we turned it on and we heard this God awful scream in there, so we turned it off (real quick!) and we still heard them up there.
SO the next morning after this party we got a hold of the animal control officer in town and he came by and peeked down the chimney for us and told us "Well, it's not Santa Claus down there but you definitely got some company! I can see two eyes staring up at me right now!" He ended up putting a trap up on our roof and told us to make sure there was something secure up against the fireplace opening in the house. We found an old basketball backboard and put it up against the fireplace for the night with 2 cinder blocks, because he said if that raccoon ever got in to the house, we'd be up a creek without a paddle!
My mother and I were basket cases that night, let me tell you! Early the next morning we heard this banging on the roof and sure enough it was the mother raccoon caught in the cage. The guy came back to the house that next day and was able to calm the raccoon down with a shot, then he retrieved the little one out of the fireplace from the house."
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