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How Earthquakes Affect Chimneys

California is known for having earthquakes that can damage your chimney

California is known for having earthquakes that can damage your chimney

As residents of California, we are familiar with dealing with earthquakes and the property damage they can cause. Did you know the most common earthquake property damage is chimney collapse? Not only is this true in our state, but also in other areas that suffer earthquakes in this country. The number of chimneys lost every year to earthquake damage is staggering. One reason for this great structural loss is chimneys are often ignored when preparing for earthquakes and the damage they can cause. Weststar Chimney Sweeps would like to tell you more about the effect of earthquakes on chimneys.

How do earthquakes cause a chimney to collapse?

It goes without saying that earthquakes cause the ground to shake resulting in buildings enduring forces to which they are not normally subjected toward. These forces lead to a deterioration of the brickwork and can cause a chimney to collapse. Even minor seismic events can cause this to happen to your chimney, so it’s important to have your chimney routinely checked – especially in seismic hotbeds.

What is the best prevention against chimney collapse during seismic activity?

The chimneys that are most commonly damaged are un-reinforced chimneys, according to InspectAPedia, an online encyclopedia of building and environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, and repair topics.

What are the dangers of a chimney collapse?

No one can predict which way a chimney will collapse. If a chimney were to collapse on the house, it could be deadly. People have even become trapped inside by a collapsed chimney. Even if the chimney does not fall onto the house, it could fall on a neighbor’s home or on someone outside.

What can I do to prepare my un-reinforced chimney for an earthquake?

You can have your chimney braced, but this does not guarantee it will not collapse. You can also remove the masonry and use a metal flue that is surrounded by a wooden box. This box can be covered with brick veneer above the roof line.

What is the best thing I can do to be sure my chimney is sturdy enough to withstand seismic activity?

The best way to ensure your chimney is safe from earthquake damage is to have it inspected every year by Weststar Chimney Sweeps. We have experience in knowing where earthquake damage can occur and exactly what to look for to be certain your chimney is safe during seismic activity.

Have any questions about how earthquakes can affect chimneys? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to find out whatever you need to know.

By Mike O'Mara on February 6th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Choosing the Best Chimney Cap to Prevent Water Leaks

One of your best defenses against water penetration and animal invasions of your chimney, a chimney cap sits on top of your chimney’s opening. With several different types of chimney caps available, how do you know which cap is the right fit for the flue of your chimney? At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we are experienced with fitting all types of chimney caps, even customized caps, and we know the importance of proper installation. We would like to tell you a bit about the different kinds of chimney caps and what you should know about selecting the right kind for your chimney to prevent damaging water leaks.

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The main thing to consider when deciding which chimney cap is right for your chimney is the shape of your flue. Chimney caps come in different shapes to fit each type of flue. These shapes include:

ROUND FLUES

Whether you have a clay, masonry, or metal flue, you can find a round chimney cap that can either attach the the outside of the flue or slip inside the flue. Round chimney caps are made from an assortment of materials including copper, stainless steel, and galvanized steel. Some round flue liners require chimney caps that must be inserted inside the chimney flue, such as round flexible flue liners and round solid pack flue liners.

SQUARE AND RECTANGULAR FLUES

The most commonly shaped flue, square and rectangular chimney caps can be attached to the flue, or, if you have a chimney crown, there are chimney caps in these sizes that can attach to the crown. Made from the same metals as the round chimney caps, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends you choose a chimney cap constructed from a sturdy, durable, and rust- and corrosion-resistant material to ensure a long-lasting cap. For chimney caps that attach to a chimney crown, you will need to choose from top mounted chimney caps.

OVAL FLUES

Unless you have a custom-shaped oval chimney cap made for you by our technicians at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, you will need to look at rectangular shaped chimney caps that will cover the exterior of your flue.. When you look inside this type of cap, you can see how the corner tabs or interior ledges will accommodate oval flues.

There are other considerations other than preventing water leaks to think about when choosing a chimney cap. These include:

MESH SPARK ARRESTOR

To prevent animals from entering your chimney to take up a new residence and to keep sparks from flying out of your chimney and possibly starting a fire, your chimney cap should be equipped with wire mesh sides. Be sure the mesh openings are between ¾ to ½ inches in size to keep animals out, to contain large pieces of hot debris and ashes, and to allow toxic gases to escape.

COMBINATION OF A CHIMNEY CAP AND DAMPER

You can now find top sealing chimney caps that do double duty as a protective cap and as a damper. Perfect for new home constructions and for older chimneys in need of numerous repairs, the damper is located on the cap. When it is sealed closed, the air loss from your home is reduced by 90%. When the damper is opened, the wire mesh on the chimney cap protects your chimney from invading animals and prevents stray sparks from exiting.

Want to know more about the different types of chimney caps? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps today to talk to our expert staff about your many options.