Is Your Fireplace Protected From Rain & Weather - - Info Center

Is Your Fireplace Protected From Rain & Weather?

Homeowners rarely take the opportunity to get on the roof and have a look at what's protecting them, and their homes, from the elements of mother nature.  The condition of one's fireplace chimney is often overlooked for this exact reason.  Rain, snow and other weather can cause serious damage to a fireplace if not maintained properly. Here is a simple tip we can give you that will allow you to determine if your fireplace is in need of repair.

Does Your Chimney Have A Spark Arrestor?
New homes are now primarily built with pre-fabricated fireplaces (Fig. A) and chimneys that are manufactured to withstand everything nature has to offer. When installed correctly, there aren't many weather related damage risks that might cause a huge safety concern or deficit to the pocket book for repairs.  They also require very little maintenence.

(Fig. A) Prefabricated Fireplace

(Fig. A) Masonry Fireplace

Homes that are 15-20 years or older typically have masonry built fireplaces and chimneys.(Fig B)  These older fireplaces require annual maintenence for safety and for the performance of the fireplace.  The most overlooked area of maintenence on a masonry built chimney is the Spark Arrestor.(Fig. C & D)  The Spark Arrestor is a cover for the chimney that keeps rain, snow and other elements of weather from entering the chimney and ultimatley the home.

(Fig. C) Chimney With No Spark Arrestor

(Fig. D) Chimney With Spark Arrestor

A chimney without a Spark Arrestor is like a home without a roof.  Without a spark arrestor, weather elements will enter directly into the opening of the chimney damaging the cement and mortar that is integral to the strength of the structure.  Over time, water will break down cement and mortar turning it as soft as sand.  This results in cracks in the mortar which can cause chimney fires, water damage and major structural damage (Fig E & F). 

(Fig. E) Damage To Structure Of Chimney

(Fig. F) Chimney Crown Water Damage

A Spark Arrestor is inexpensive and easy to install.  Without one, it is probable that your chimney will damage over time and the cost to repair major damages to masonry chimneys is very, very expensive.  If you notice that you are missing a Spark Arrestor, contact Cornerstone Mantels or your local chimney inspector and have one installed immediately.

You can determine if you have a Spark Arrestor simply by looking at the top of your chimney.  In most cases, you do not need to access your roof. If you notice you are missing a Spark Arrestor, you should have one installed immediately.