I thought I would try a series of posts about common ”defects” reported in a home inspection that sort of fly under the radar. These are items that aren’t safety-related and often get overlooked as not really a problem.
To kick this off, I wanted to start with Chimneys. Specifically missing or damaged flue covers (also referred to as caps) and spark arrestors. The wire mesh seen in the picture is the spark arrestor.
Many people think that just because you don’t have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, a flue cover is not needed. I see a lot of chimneys that are only used as a convenient chase for the water heater exhaust. A proper cover and spark arrestor keeps small animals out of your chimney and out of your house. It is not uncommon for birds and bats to find their way down chimneys. Birds will make nests on top of dampers in the summer and will seek warmth in the winter. If you have trees in close proximity to your home, squirrels, chimpmunks, and raccoons have been known to make their way down the chimney in search of warmth.
With the recent extreme cold, we had our own visitors just before Christmas and had a good time chasing cats that were chasing birds and trying to keep both from destroying the house before getting the birds out.
The cover also acts like an umbrella to keep water and snow out of your chimney. I could do a whole series of posts about the many ways water gets into your house and how to prevent it. If you have a chimney, there are many opportunities for water to makes its way into your house, all of them lead to water damage and possible mold growth.
Take a look at your chimney today. Do you have at least a cover? Do you have a spark arrestor? If not, you may want to call a licensed chimney specalist to see about having one put on. While you are at it, have them do a cleaning and check out other areas of the chimney for issues.
Let me know in the comments if you found this information helpful.