Do I really need a spark arrestor?
Yes, you really do need a spark arrestor on your chimney. Let me quickly give you 4 reasons why.
In the illustration to the right, you can see three very obvious reasons you need a spark arrestor but let me elaborate more fully why you need a spark arrestor.
- California Residential Code states all fireplaces must have a spark arrestor.
- A spark arrestor’s original function is to keep burning embers from escaping the fireplace, being carried by the wind to land on a roof, whether yours or a neighbors, or in dry brush and starting a fire. As you can see in the illustration above, the roof is on fire from burning embers. Many, many destructive fires are started from uncovered fireplaces.
- A spark arrestor keeps small animals from entering your home via the open top chimney. Small animals such as raccoons, squirrels, birds and even skunks look for quiet, safe places such as a chimney to nest and raise their young. Obviously, a nest will obstruct the chimney which in turn will not allow the smoke to evacuate properly. With the chimney blocked by a nest the smoke will return into the house since it cannot exit via the chimney. Not only is it smelly, but can be an expensive clean up when soot covers the walls, floors and furniture. Sometime an animal will die in the chimney and the corpse will emit unpleasant odors into the home.
- A spark arrestor protects the interior lining of a chimney as well as the interior of the firebox from water intrusion. Water is very damaging to the terra cotta liners and over time will erode the liners. Replacing or relining a chimney is very expensive.
A spark arrestor is an inexpensive way to protect your home and property from any of the abovementioned problems.
What type of spark arrestor do I need?
California Residential Code has specific guidelines and requirements for spark arrestors to meet code. California spark arrestors must be made of 5/8” mesh, and 4 times the area of the opening of the flue with 5-6” of clearance from the top of the flue to the spark arrestor covering. The latter two requirements ensure sufficient air circulation for drafting. The mesh size keeps embers of a specific size from escaping and causing fires.
We carry code compliant spark arrestors on our truck for the most commonly sized chimneys. If a custom size cap is required we work closely with our supplier for the proper size spark arrestor and can usually have it available to install within a week’s time. All of our spark arrestors are stainless steel so they won’t rust and therefore last many, many years. Other materials, such as copper, are available upon request but are priced significantly higher.
Custom copper chimney cap and spark arrestor: