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Keep Birds Out of Your Chimney With a Cap

Keep these guys out of your chimney with a chimney cap!

Keep these guys out of your chimney with a chimney cap!

The crisp autumn weather is starting to settle in. Chilly winds have vividly colored leaves falling to the ground, and most people no longer leave the house without at least a light jacket. Many homeowners are starting to look ahead to heating their homes in the upcoming months. For those who use their fireplace or stove in the fall and winter, now is a popular time to schedule the necessary regular maintenance. Everyone is scrambling to make a chimney sweep appointment to clear out any debris that built up since last winter, but a lot of people forget about a simple yet very important part of the chimney: the chimney cap.

What is a chimney cap?

The chimney cap is a small apparatus that sits atop the chimney. Generally made with stainless steel or copper, it serves a few different purposes, not the least of which is keeping birds out of your chimney. Luckily, right now the birds are heading for warmer climates, but they will return next spring wanting a safe place to live. The interior of your chimney is as good a place for a bird to live as any. However, it can cause some serious health hazards for you.

A blocked chimney is a broken chimney

The function of the chimney is to allow smoke and other toxic gases created by the fire to escape the home. If an animal builds a nest and lives in your chimney, the function of the structure is suddenly lost. With the path of the fumes blocked by the animal and debris, the poisonous gases have no option except to flow back in your home. The debris can also catch fire and can lead to a lethal chimney fire.

Hidden dangers

Smoke produced by fire consists of a wide range of dangerous chemicals, but you may know of the two deadliest. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, scentless gas produced during combustion, or any type of burning including gas. If carbon monoxide cannot escape through the chimney because of a bird and its nest, the gas will build up inside the house. This can result in suffocation in a matter of minutes. Creosote is another harmful chemical that results from burning wood. This tarlike particle floats through the air while hot and clings to nearly everything as it cools. If creosote is forced to infiltrate your home due to a chimney obstruction, you will inadvertently inhale it or consume it, causing health problems like cancers and birth defects.

All things considered, keeping birds out of your chimney is in the best interest of your and your family’s health. Right now, while the birds are heading for warmer areas, is the best time to have a mason out to install a chimney cap that can keep birds out. This low-cost option is a very effective solution for blocking access to your chimney. If you live in upstate South Carolina, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps today to talk to a specialist about your chimney needs.

Know What to Ask

If you haven’t had your chimney cleaned and inspected in the last 12 months, don’t worry – just schedule right away.  Here is some basic information about common problems, levels of inspection, choosing the best sweep and things to keep in mind.

This is part of The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Standard 211.  It goes on to mention that even if you don’t use your chimney regularly, things can happen beyond your control, such as animal nests and deterioration.  To schedule your appointment call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps today to speak with an experienced professional!

Why do you need a chimney sweep?

The chimney sweep you ultimately hire to maintain your chimney, should always be willing to answer any questions you may have.

The chimney sweep you ultimately hire to maintain your chimney, should always be willing to answer any questions you may have.

It is important to know why you need a chimney sweep, and what could happen if your chimney goes unattended.  First, creosotes are one of the main things that will be removed during a sweep.  Released during the burning of the firewood, creosotes will clump up in the structure of your chimney and cause blockages, which can lead to draft problems and fires.  Draft problems share a connection with carbon monoxide poisoning when smoke is allowed to collect inside of the room from not being able to flow out of the chimney.  Chimney fires originate in the inside of the chimney and can quickly spread.  Nature can also help block your chimney, such as with animal droppings or leaves and twigs.

Levels of Inspection

There are different levels of inspection you can have administered.  This is something you should ask when making the appointment to make sure the technicians know what the status of the chimney is.  A level one inspection is the most basic of the three levels.  This involves a sweep, a flue check, and also an inspection of the visible parts of the structure.  A level two inspection is what you will have done if the technician needs to go further due to a problem noticed during level one.  It is also important to alert your technician of any changes in the way your chimney is being used or if the structure is new to you because this will also result in a level two.  The third level is what will need to be done if any problems in the chimney spread to the foundation of your home, such as mold or a chimney fire or if there has been damage to your chimney.

Questions to Ask

Now that you know why you need your sweep and have an idea of what kind of service, you need to know how to make sure you are getting the best company to do the job right.  A certified chimney sweep is a trained professional.  Ask things like how long has the company been in business and what kind of training did the employees get.  Does the company have any testimonials? Ask friends and neighbors, coworkers, and research on the internet to see what kind of reviews the company is getting.  Next, if any of these companies have complaints are they unresolved and how did they fix the problems?  For your safety and also the employees, ask if the company has any business liability insurance.

If you think you’ve chosen a company it all comes down to the most important part, are they a CSIA certified sweep?  This is important because the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has modernized some specific guidelines that sweeps must follow to maximize safety.

Getting Ready

There is really nothing you have to worry about that is chimney specific for the preparation except not burning a fire for at least 24 hours before the sweep appointment.  This will assure that it is cool enough to work in.  However, you can always ask what they prefer for you to do as most companies ask you to clear space for the equipment.  You will want to push back all of the furniture and move anything valuable.  Also, lock up your pets so they cannot interfere or get hurt during the process.

An informed customer is a customer better able to make decisions about his or her home. Here at Blue Sky, we want you to feel confident about your sweep, the services you require and knowing the job was done well. Call us today to schedule your annual inspection.