Another autumn is upon us and, for many homeowners, this is the time of year when they start making preparations for using their fireplace or wood burning stove, cleaning out the chimney and cutting and preparing the firewood. Unfortunately, many people forget to take the very important steps of checking their chimney cap and masonry to make sure everything is in order and ready for the coming cold season.
Fortunately, making sure your chimney or chimneys are in good condition is a fairly easy task, and one that can be accomplished in less than a couple of hours, provided you can make it up to the roof.
Before you get started, however, you need to understand what you’re going to be checking: the chimney cap. Modern chimneys have multiple parts protruding above the house.
The part most people think of as the chimney cap is actually the rain cap. This piece, made of metal and often shaped like an umbrella, covers the flue opening and prevents rain from entering the chimney, as well as keeping strong winds from creating a downdraft in the flue. This piece is also often covered with a fine steel mesh to keep any sparks that might have entered the chimney from flying out and causing damage. The chimney rain cap should be free of corrosion, and should be attached firmly to the flue and be very difficult to shake.
The actual chimney cap is a concrete base, either poured into the chimney or pre-made, that surrounds the flue and sits on top of the chimney. The purpose of the chimney cap is to create a tight seal between the chimney masonry and the flue, and keep out water. There are a couple of things you should be looking for when inspecting your chimney cap.
First, make sure that the cap is properly constructed. The top of the cap should be gently sloped from the flue to the edge of the cap. The edges of the cap should stick out at least 2.5 inches from the masonry sides, to keep water pouring off the cap and dripping down the masonry. Inspect the concrete for any cracks or chips, as these may lead to water entering your chimney or otherwise damaging the masonry. Also, make sure to check the space between the chimney flue and the chimney cap: It should be sealed with a flexible sealant to allow the flue to expand with heat without cracking the chimney cap.
The professionals at Handyman Matters can prepare your chimney and get it ready for fall. Call us today at 1-866-FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code above to find a Handyman Matters in your area.