Chimneys are sturdy and built to withstand the test of time. However, there is one thing that can wreak havoc on both the interior and exterior of your fireplace system – water. Water damage is one of the primary causes of chimney deterioration. From exterior bricks crumbling to rusting interior fireplace components, water can affect every part of your chimney system. However, all water damage can be prevented through preemptive maintenance such as installing a rain cover for your chimney. At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we offer rain cover to protect your chimney fully.
What is a rain cover?
A rain cover is a metal cap with mesh or wire sides that covers the top of the flue and protects the top of the chimney. While chimney caps cover just the flue, rain covers are full size and protect the chimney crown as well the flue.
They are made of sturdy, corrosion-resistant metal such as stainless steel or copper. Rain covers can protect your chimney from the elements and prevent both interior and exterior water damage. Installing a quality rain cover is also important. Those made of aluminum or other lesser metals can rust over time, creating ugly stains that are difficult to remove. Likewise, poorly constructed rain covers can weaken over time, allowing animal entry or moisture and debris to get into your system to wreck all kinds of havoc.
Reasons to install a rain cover
While most chimneys have a chimney cap, a rain cover is an additional protection that can help reduce moisture damage to your fireplace. The following are five reasons to consider installing a rain cover on your chimney.
- Reduce water damage. Rain covers reduce water damage in two ways. First, it covers the top of the flue and prevents water from entering the fireplace to damage delicate interior components including the chimney liner, damper, firebox, and more. Secondly, full-size rain covers protect the chimney crown. The sloped top and overhanging sides of a rain cover direct water away from the chimney and safely onto the roof.
- Prevent animal entry. Birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals have all been known to seek shelter – or nest in – unprotected chimneys. A rain cover help prevent animal entry and the debris, odors, parasites, and damage they can bring.
- Avoid downdrafts. The slanted sides pf a rain cover prevent down drafts from affecting fireplace use. This encourages a good draft and keeps strong winds from blowing smoke and gas back down the chimney, when your fireplace is in use.
- Block sparks. Stray sparks and embers from a roaring fire can travel up the chimney. Rain covers serve as a spark arrestor, preventing sparks from leaving the chimney. This helps to prevent accidental fires caused by sparks from the fireplace landing on roofs, trees, garages, or other structures.
- Keep debris out. Falling leaves, twigs, trash, and other debris can fall into an uncapped chimney to create blockages. In addition to increasing the risk of chimney fire, blockages in the flue can prevent smoke and gas from properly drafting when your fireplace is in use. Rain covers help prevent debris from falling into your chimney in the first place.
Rain covers protect your entire chimney system – both inside and out. For more information on the importance of a capped chimney or to schedule your chimney inspection, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!
While all parts of the chimney serve a specific purpose, few are as important as the chimney cap. A quality chimney cap can protect your entire fireplace system and keep it in good condition for years to come.
What is a chimney cap?
A chimney cap is a fitted metal hood that sits on top of the chimney structure and protects the top of the flue. Chimney caps have a solid top and mesh or wire sides. The solid top protects the chimney from moisture, animals, and debris while the open sides allow smoke and gas to safely vent.
Three ways a chimney cap protects your home
The following are three of the ways installing a chimney cap can protect your fireplace system.
1. Keep animals out
Raccoons, squirrels, birds, and other animals view chimneys as a safe, dark, enclosed and protected place to hide from predators and build nests. Unfortunately, animal entry can cause serious damage to your fireplace and chimney.
Animals damage the chimney and fireplace in a number of ways. First, they can scratch interior fireplace components such as the chimney liner. If your chimney has a clay tile liner, it may be necessary to reline the entire flue. Animal entry also increases the risk of chimney fire; nesting materials, food, and droppings can become dry in the flue and accidentally ignite from a stray spark or ember. The presence of animals in the chimney can also expose your family to diseases and pests such as lice or maggots – as well as the smells associated with a trapped animal.
2. Reduce risk of accidental fire
While fireplace safety and chimney maintenance significantly reduces the risk of chimney fire, chimney caps are an additional level of protection against accidental fires. First, the solid metal top and mesh sides act as spark catchers; it prevents embers, sparks, and hot coals from landing on the roof. Chimney caps also reduce the risk of fire by keeping debris out of the chimney. This keeps them from accumulating in the flue and drying out or catching fire.
Water from rain, sleet, snow, ice, and even sprinklers and hoses can be extremely damaging to your chimney. While fireplace and chimney components are designed to withstand extreme heat, even small amounts of moisture can cause significant damage.
Whether it is from a few droplets of a serious leak, water wreaks havoc throughout the chimney. Moisture can cause cracks in clay tile chimney liners, rust dampers, and even damage surrounding insulation, ceilings, and building materials. The combination of water along with the dark, moist chimney can also lead to mold and mildew growth.
Have your chimney cap inspected today!
A quality, well fitting chimney cap is an important part of protecting your entire chimney system. Contact the experts at Jack Pixley Sweeps to schedule your next chimney cap inspection. Our expert staff of CSIA certified chimney sweeps can ensure your chimney cap is in good condition, recommend necessary repairs, or even help you find a new chimney cap for your fireplace system.
Fireplaces and chimneys are designed and built in the same way for hundreds of years. With new developments in safety and technology, there are ways to improve fireplace performance and efficiency – without installing a new fireplace or insert. Top sealing dampers are one of the ways to improve the safety and efficiency of your fireplace system.
What are top sealing dampers?
Most fireplaces have throat dampers. This is located at the top of the firebox; throat dampers separate the firebox from the flue. Throat dampers are opened and closed with a lever or pulley system when the fireplace is in use. While this allows hot air, gas, and byproducts of combustion to safely draft out of the chimney, it allows the flue to remain open to outside air when not in use. Homes with throat dampers also require a chimney cap to prevent moisture, animals, and debris from entering the flue.
Top sealing dampers operate with the same principle as traditional throat dampers. They are opened when the fireplace is in use and closed when the fireplace is not is use. The major difference is their location. Top sealing dampers are located at the top of the chimney structure where a chimney cap normally sits. This allows the entire flue to be closed to outside air when the fireplace is not in use. It also works to prevent extreme air temperature changes in the flue and protect it from moisture and debris.
Three reasons every chimney needs a top sealing damper
Installing a top sealing damper may seem like an unnecessary fireplace upgrade. However, there are a number of benefits to installing a new damper in your fireplace system. The following are three reasons why every chimney needs a top sealing damper.
- Lower heating and cooling costs. Top sealing dampers save money in two ways. First, traditional throat dampers constantly leak. They have a metal-to-metal seal, which allows air to leak. This air leaking gets worse over time as heat, age, and further warp. This leaking allows heated air from your home to escape up the chimney as cold air enters, which increases your heating costs.
- Protect against moisture. Water is one of the most damaging forces to fireplaces. While chimney exteriors are designed to withstand moisture from the elements, interior fireplace components can easily be damaged by water. Because they create an air-tight seal when not in use, top sealing dampers protect against water entry.
- Prevent animal entry. Because the entirety of the flue is closed to the outside with an air tight seal, it is impossible for animals to find their way in when your damper is closed. When the top sealing damper is opened when your fireplace Is in use, the smoke, gas, hot air, and byproducts of combustion are a natural deterrent to animals.
Because throat dampers leave the flue exposed to outside air, it can be extreme temperature changes. This can affect the air temperature in the rooms adjacent to the chimney – and increase heating and cooling costs. A top sealing damper seals the entire flue from outside air; this helps reduce temperature changes in the flue and maintain a consistent temperature in the surrounding rooms.
Don’t delay – install a new top sealing damper today to improve the safety and efficiency of your fireplace. Contact Jack Pixley Sweeps for more information to start saving money today!
While our customers understand the importance of regular chimney sweepings and inspections, many are surprised to learn that dryer vents need to be regularly cleaned, too. Dryer vent maintenance is an important part of helping your dryer operate safely and efficiently while extending the life of your appliance.
The importance of cleaning your dryer vents
Maintaining dryer vents is about more than cleaning lint out of the lint trap after each load. By having your dryer vents professionally cleaned, you can help your dryer operate more efficiently while also significantly reducing the risk of dryer fire.
The same lint that is found in the lint trap also accumulates in hoses and vents over time. As lint builds up in the dryer’s hoses it can begin to restrict air flow; the restricted air flow causes the dryer to work hard, producing super-heated air to compensate.
The cycle of restricted air flow and hotter and hotter air can cause the lint in the vents to ignite. Because lint is highly flammable, a fire in the dryer vents can quickly get out of control and spread to the rest of the house. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are more than 15,000 dryer fires caused by clogged dryer vents in the US each year. Although preventable through dryer maintenance, these fires cause more than $200 million in property damages each year – as well as endangering and injuring families.
Signs your dryer vents need to be cleaned
Many homeowners ask how they can tell when their dryer vents need to be cleaned. While an annual cleaning is recommended, there are several other indicators that your dryer vents may be getting clogged. The following are six signs that its time to schedule an appointment to have your dryer vents cleaned.
- A full load of clothes does not completely dry within one cycle.
- A regular cycle takes more than 45 minutes to dry a load of clothes.
- More and more lint accumulates in the lint trap after each load.
- The dryer or clothes fresh from the dryer have a strong musty odor.
- The surface of the dryer or the laundry room become excessively hot after use.
- Lint and debris are visible around exterior vent terminations.
Knock dryer vents off your spring cleaning list now!
The season for spring cleaning may not arrive for several more months, but now is a great time to have your dryer vents cleaned! Our holiday discounts are still in effect, giving customers an extra incentive to schedule their dryer vent cleanings now. Customers can receive a $40 discount on a dryer vent cleaning when scheduled along with a chimney sweeping! Likewise, we also have a $40 discount available on chimney sweepings that include an inspection.
Help your dryer operate more safely and efficiently – and take advantage of our remaining holiday discounts – by scheduling your dryer vent cleaning with Jack Pixley Sweeps. Contact us today for more information on the importance of cleaning dryer vents or to schedule your next appointment.
With the start of the new year behind us, we at Jack Pixley Chimney Sweeps and Masonry would like to remind our Minneapolis area neighbors that we offer more than just chimney sweeping! In fact, one of the main services we provide this time of year is fireplace remodeling.
There are a variety of reasons why homeowners would want to update the look of their fireplace. While aesthetic purposes are often the reason, the fireplace front is sometimes in need of remodeling because of an alteration made to the fireplace. If you’ve recently had the firebox been rebuilt or you’ve had a different type of insert installed, you’ll more than likely need to make changes to the fireplace front.
The fireplace is not only for keeping us warm, but can be a perfect focal point, and a definite plus for a future home sale. Gone is the standard traditional brick face and old mantel, and in comes new materials and upgrades to change that look. All sorts of different stones, tile, or brick designs can be used for remodeling, and this includes changing the mantel or hearth material.
Before updating, there are many things you need to consider during the process. The following is a list of do’s and dont’s when having your fireplace worked on.
Things to do when updating your fireplace:
- Replace your mantel to an updated style or material to be more decorative.
- Instead of brick, consider round river rock, lake stone or flat stone of different colors.
- Decorate with a piece of art above the fireplace to heighten the fireplace as a focal point of the home.
- Use mirrors to decorate! Mirrors draw the eye and reflect light to the fireplace.
- Arrange furniture to highlight the warm and cozy view.
Thing you shouldn’t do.
- Don’t place a television right above the fireplace. A television above needs to be a certain height for clearance considerations and can detract from the fireplace.
- Don’t block the view of your fireplace focal point with furniture
- Don’t paint your fireplace with just any old paint! Buy the right type of paint if considering brightening up the face and room
- Don’t use the same old fireplace accessories for a newly remodeled fireplace. Updated fireplace accessories are a good finishing touch.
Take advantage of this time of year by scheduling a fireplace remodel or facelift today! If it’s for cosmetic purposes, our technicians are more than happy to help you develop designs for your fireplace front. Either way, our certified professionals are equipped to take care of all your fireplace needs! Call us today at 763-422-048.