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The Importance Of Having A Correctly Installed Chimney Crown

We Expertly Install Chimney CapsWhen it comes to understanding the anatomy of their chimney, many homeowners are only familiar with the parts that they can see. However, one of the most important chimney components is hiding in plain sight at the top of the chimney: the chimney crown.

The chimney crown serves an important purpose in protecting your fireplace system from moisture, debris, animal entry, and the elements. Overexposure, lack of maintenance, incorrect installation, or poor fit can all cause damage to the chimney cap – and damage to the rest of your chimney.

What is a chimney crown?

The chimney crown is a slab made of stone, cement, or masonry that covers and seals the top of the chimney around the flue. Typically domed or slanted to prevent water or snow from accumulating on the top, well-constructed crowns also have a chimney wash. The chimney wash is the combination of edges on the chimney crown that extend over the side of the chimney structure; this prevents water from flowing directly onto the masonry.

What causes chimney crown damage?

Chimney crowns are often among the first parts of a chimney system to need repairs or replacement. The following are a few of the common causes of chimney crown deterioration:

  • Flat surface – While most chimney crowns are slightly domed or slanted, they can still suffer from water accumulation. Moisture from rain, ice, sleet, and snow can all prematurely damage the chimney crown.
  • Exposure to the elements – With direct exposure to sunlight for most of the day, as well as normal wear and tear from the elements, the chimney crown can suffer because of overexposure. Changing temperatures can cause the seals and joints of the chimney crown to expand and contract, leading to cracks or holes in the masonry.
  • Difficult to spot damage – The chimney crown is difficult to assess for two reasons: it is on the roof and virtually impossible to see from street level. Because of this, small areas of damage or deterioration often go unchecked or unnoticed until chimney maintenance is done.
  • Poor construction – The primary cause of chimney crown deterioration is poor construction. Using the wrong materials, improper installation, or poor building practices can all leave behind sub-par chimney crowns that often need to be replaced.

Is my chimney crown correctly installed?

While a professional chimney inspection is the best way to know if your chimney crown was correctly installed, there are a number of things homeowners can look for.

  • Construction materials – Chimney crowns should never be built using bricks and mortar; crowns receive too much exposure to moisture and the elements to be made of masonry. Instead, slabs of stone, concrete, or even metal should be used in crown construction.
  • Extended edges – The edges of the chimney crown should extend over the sides of the chimney. Known as a kerf, the edges should extend 2-2.5 inches over the sides of the chimney; this prevents moisture runoff from flowing directly onto the masonry of the chimney.

A correctly installed chimney crown can protect your fireplace system from damage and deterioration. For more information on the importance of chimney crowns or to schedule your next chimney inspection, contact Fireplace Safety Services today.

Don’t Throw Away Your Ashes!

After a long winter of using your wood burning fireplace, homeowners are often left with an excess amount of fireplace ashes. This year, instead of throwing them out try repurposing them in a number of creative ways! The following are just a few ways to repurpose fireplace ashes both inside and outside your home. Don't Throw Away Ashes - San Francisco CA - Fireplace Safety Services

Outside uses for ashes

– Add alkalinity to the soil. If your soil is naturally acidic, adding ashes to lawns or gardens can change the pH. Lavender, gardenia, and hydrangea are just a few of the many alkaline-loving plants that can be improved using ashes.

– De-ice sidewalks. While not needed during the spring and summer, ashes can be used as a natural deicer during winter months. Simply sprinkle a small amount of ash on sidewalks or driveways to melt ice and prevents slips; however, make sure to wipe or remove your shoes before going inside to avoid messy footprints throughout your home!

– Keep pests out of flower beds. The same alkalinity that changes the pH of the garden soil can also help keep garden pests away. Sprinkle ashes around the perimeter of flower or vegetable beds to keep slugs, snails, and other pests away from your plants.

Inside uses for ashes

  • Polish silver. Many silver polishes can be toxic or full of harsh chemicals. Use fireplace ashes as a natural alternative; mix one cup of ashes with small amounts of water until a thick paste forms. Spread the paste over silver and let sit for several minutes before wiping away and buffing with a clean cloth.
  • Clean fireplace doors. Ashes are abrasive enough to remove soot from fireplace doors – without damaging the glass. Wet old newspaper or paper towels before dipping them into the ash; then scrub the glass to remove stubborn soot from glass doors. This cleaning method can also be used to remove limescale from other windows or fixtures throughout your home.

Storing ashes

If you want to reuse your ashes around the house, it is important that they are correctly removed and stored during the burning season. The following tips can help you properly remove and store ashes.

  • Stir the ashes in the firebox. After the fire, continue stirring ashes for up to 24 hours. Doing this prevents hot spots, embers, or coals from remaining in the ashes; cocooned in the ash, embers can remain active for up to three days.
  • Use a special ash container. After 24 hours, remove ashes from the firebox to a special ash container. Ash containers should be metal, sit off the ground, and have a handle.
  • Keep ashes away from combustibles. In case hot embers or coals remain, ash containers should be stored away from combustible materials such as firewood.

At the end of the burning season, don’t just throw your ashes out with the rest of the trash. Instead, repurpose them around the house as cleaners, pest control, fertilizer, and more. For more information on how to properly store your ashes or how to recycle them when spring arrives, contact Fireplace Safety Services today!

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