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The Importance of Chimney Caps

Your chimney cap is the first line of defense for your chimney. It protects the flue opening from the top year-round. The design of a chimney cap can be simple. Usually it is constructed of a stainless steel or copper top and a mesh cage beneath it. The cap is secured to the top of the chimney and works together with the chimney crown. This prevents water intrusion from the top of the system.

The Importance of Chimney Caps Image - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsChimney Caps Keep Water Out

Through the year there can be over 24 inches of precipitation in the form of rain and snow. Consequently, even more than that on average in Seattle. That’s why it’s often called the wettest area in the U.S. Without a chimney cap to cover your flue opening, this precipitation falls directly into your chimney system. Water intrusion is the most detrimental thing that can happen to your masonry. It damages it from the inside out, undetected until substantial damage has occurred. The best way to prevent water from entering the system from the top? A chimney cap combined with a chimney crown. For other information about waterproofing, click here.

Chimney Caps Keep Wildlife Out

Weather is not the only thing that can fall into a chimney. Some wild critters can crawl down the chimney and nest there. The harsh winter is a time when animals seek the dry, warm shelters. Just like one that is offered by an unprotected chimney flue. Small animals like squirrels and chipmunks can easily slip into a chimney flue undetected. During spring, birds can often be heard flitting around and chattering inside a chimney flue as they nest there, safe from predators.

If animals are allowed to nest or hibernate in your chimney, they leave behind debris. In addition, even become suffocated, stuck, causing a dangerous blockage. Not to mention foul odors that can permeate your entire house. It’s best to have a cap installed so that critters can’t get into your system. Even if they climb in and out without nesting, they can still claw the liner. Thus, leading to a weakness and eventually deterioration.

Chimney Caps Keep Flames In

The mesh cage around the chimney cap doesn’t only keep wild animals out of your chimney flue, but also is a spark deterrent. Unruly flames often throw sparks up a chimney along with the smoke and vapors that rise on a swift updraft. If these sparks are allowed to escape the flue opening, they can ignite leaves, sticks, and any other debris on the roof, even sometimes reaching the ground below. It may seem like a rare occurrence, but it is possible, especially if you have debris on the roof and certain, more flammable roofing materials.

Chimney caps are just one step in preventing damage and extra costs in repairs later. You should take care to remember annual inspections and regular chimney sweeps that are vital to maintaining proper safety and efficiency of your entire system. Pristine Sweeps offers these routine services, as well as other preventative measures like waterproofing. Call Pristine Sweeps today at 206-574-8414 or schedule an appointment online.

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Creosote Removal

Part of enjoying a fire is contending with the mess that comes with it. Wood fires naturally produce ash, soot, creosote, smoke, and more. The chimney system works constantly to vent these harmful byproducts from the home. However, over time the chimney can become coated with soot and creosote. When soot and creosote are left to build up in the chimney flue, it can lower efficiency. This causes increased fire risks and health concerns. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) routine chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections in order to maintain the highest levels of chimney safety and efficiency.

Soot Versus Creosote

Creosote Removal img - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsSoot is a powdery substance that is easily removed by standard tools during a chimney sweep. Creosote is black or brown like soot, but appears crusty or flaky. It is made up of tar and melts as it heats up. It appears drippy and sticky, then it cools into a hard and shiny mass. Creosote is highly flammable and becomes more so as it heats and cools repeatedly. As creosote continues to buildup in the flue, and transforms into this hard mass, it only worsens, resulting in a flue fire.

Glazed Creosote

When creosote has been left in the chimney flue long enough to buildup and become shiny and hard it is called glazed, or level three creosote. Level three is considered highly flammable and dangerous. If you have a level three buildup your chimney will not pass a CSIA chimney inspection and failing to keep your chimney working properly will shorten its life.

Creosote in the chimney can restrict airflow, causing even more creosote to build up in the chimney flue. When airflow slows down in the chimney, the draft doesn’t pull the vapors and smoke up and out of the chimney properly. As the airflow slows, the soot, creosote, and sparks stall in the chimney along with the air. The sparks can easily ignite the creosote on the flue walls.

Removal

If your chimney expert recommends glazed creosote removal, this is a serious problem that should be addressed. Glazed creosote removal is more complicated than a standard chimney sweep in which a technician cleans away soot and creosote with brushes and a vacuum system. Glazed creosote can’t be brushed away, however, Pristine Sweeps specializes in its removal. All of our certified chimney sweeps are trained in the use of specially-formulated chemical cleaning products designed to remove glazed creosote. These products create a reaction that changes the texture of the creosote for easier removal. During your chimney appointment the glazed creosote becomes flaky and easier to remove with chimney sweeping tools.

Prevention

It is important to hire a professional to remove dangerous creosote from your chimney in order to keep your family safe and warm. This type of service takes more time and money than a standard chimney sweep and can be completely avoided. Creosote is a natural byproduct of your fire, but it doesn’t have to be a problem. Some conditions encourage a creosote buildup including restricted air supply, improper fuel, and cool chimney temperatures.

To find out more about creosote and chimney fires click here or call Pristine Sweeps at 206-574-8414.