Using a fireplace is a great way to keep warm in the winter, but it requires regular maintenance. An open chimney flue allows sparks to escape, and sometimes also allows rain, snow, birds, and other creatures into the fireplace. To prevent this, install a flue cowl, which has metal covers and screens that keep the elements and debris out, while allowing smoke to escape. Before installing a flue cowl, understand the types available and how to maintain them.
Types of Flue Cowls
Flue cowls are available in many designs. Stainless steel is the best choice because it resists rust and corrosion when exposed to the elements. Cowls that slide on and off easily work well for a single flue. For a round tile or steel flue, choose a cowl that slides inside. If the building has multiple flues, use a cowl that fits outside the chimney. Simple bird guard cowls look like pointed wire cages, and keep animals out of the chimney. A rain cap flue cowl has a solid cap, often with mesh sides to keep birds and rain out. In areas with high winds that send smoke billowing back into the building, use an anti-downdraught flue cowl to minimise the effect. There are also all-purpose cowls that combine the features of multiple designs.
Installing a Flue Cowl
For gently sloping roofs that are easy to access, installation requires a ladder and some basic tools. Flue cowls that attach to the outside of the chimney need masonry anchors to hold them in place. Space the anchors 30 centimetres apart, and ensure that there is at least one anchor on each side of the cowl. Place the cowl over the chimney crown and straighten it before tightening the anchors. Use a drill to screw the anchors into place over the flange, starting at one side and working all the way around. To install an inside-mount cowl inside a flue, use silicone sealant to caulk the cowl into place on a tile flue.
Maintaining a Flue Cowl
To prevent damaging fires, the build-up of smoke and carbon monoxide, and other dangerous situations, the chimney and flue cowl should be cleaned regularly. Either hire a professional chimney sweep or buy the necessary tools, including a special vacuum cleaner, brushes, and lock fast chimney rods.