What Is a Spark Arrestor and Do I Need One?
Homeowners should be aware of the various safety devices available to them for their chimney. Something very commonly used is a fireplace screen or cage. This protects the family inside the home from embers leaving the fireplace as well as preventing things from being mistakenly thrown into the fireplace. But, what protects the home outside from these very same conditions?
A spark arrestor is very necessary piece of equipment for anyone owning a fireplace. In essence, a spark arrestor is a device that is put in place that prevents flammable debris from escaping a combustion source. In this case, your fireplace. This device prevents burning embers from flying up your fireplace and out into the open area outside, where the embers could hit a tree or leaves, and start a fire.
You may not be familiar with the term spark arrestor, but you may know this device as a chimney cap. In order to be classified as a spark arrestor, the chimney cap must have some type of mesh lining, in most cases this is steel mesh, which prevents anything from getting out of or into the flue.
In addition to preventing the embers from leaving the fireplace, these devices serve several other purposes. The first being the prevention of water from getting down inside the flue and possibly into the fireplace when there is a fire burning. For obvious reasons, this is not something any homeowner would like to experience.
The second reason is in the prevention of animals, such as birds or bats, getting down inside the chimney to nest. While regular birds can be removed, a chimney swift could present not only inconvenience, but also significant fines if the bird is hurt. This particular bird is protected by law and the homeowner must wait until the birds leave the nest for the winter before they can do anything to remove it.