What Is a Spark Arrestor on a Chimney, and Is It Necessary?

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So, what is a spark arrestor on a chimney, and why is it even necessary?

A chimney spark arrestor is a device that helps to catch and stop sparks or embers from the flue and ignite nearby flammable materials, such as debris on the roof or ground. These sparks can come from open wood-burning stoves or fireplaces.

In some cases, local building codes even require them. So if you’re wondering whether or not you need a spark arrestor on your chimney, the answer is probably yes! This guide will help you understand what a spark arrestor is, how it works, and what type of chimney it’s best for.

How Does a Chimney Spark Arrestor Work?

Imagine you’re sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter night. The flames are crackling, and the wood is burning brightly. Suddenly, you see a shower of sparks coming up the chimney!

Luckily, your chimney is equipped with a spark arrestor, which prevents these burning embers from escaping into the open air. But how does this simple device work?

At its most basic, a chimney spark arrestor is a metal mesh screen covering the top. This screen prevents stray sparks from escaping while allowing smoke and hot air to ventilate.

Most chimney spark arrestors are made of stainless steel, which can withstand high temperatures without corroding. In addition to keeping your home safe from stray sparks, a chimney spark arrestor also helps to keep your chimney clean.

Over time, soot and ash can build up on the mesh, easily be remedied with a quick sweep of the chimney. So next time you’re sitting by the fire, you can rest assured that your chimney spark arrestor is doing its job!

How Does a Chimney Spark Arrestor Look Like?

spark arrestor

A chimney spark arrestor typically consists of a metal mesh screen that covers the top of the chimney. This screen can be made of stainless steel or another fire-resistant material.

The mesh is usually attached to a metal frame that fits snugly around the chimney. In some cases, the mesh may be welded directly to the chimney.

Most chimney spark arrestors have a metal lip that extends down the side of the chimney. This lip helps to prevent sparks from escaping around the edge of the screen.

Chimney spark arrestors come in various sizes and shapes to fit all types of chimneys. The size of your spark arrestor will depend on the size of your chimney opening.

Spark arrestors are usually available in round, square, or rectangular shapes. You can also find spark arrestors specifically designed for oil-burning furnaces and wood-burning stoves.

Do You Need a Chimney Spark Arrestor?

In most cases, yes! Many local building codes require chimney spark arrestors in residential and commercial buildings.

If you’re unsure whether your chimney needs a spark arrestor, the best course of action is to check with your local building code enforcement office, and they will be able to tell you the requirements for your area.

Even if your local codes don’t require a chimney spark arrestor, having one is still a good idea. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry when preventing fires!

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Benefits of Chimney Spark Arrestors

Having a spark arrestor on your chimney is necessary for many homes and has some great benefits. These include, but are not limited to:

Preventing Fires

One of the main benefits of having a chimney spark arrestor is that it can help prevent fires. This is a significant benefit if you live in an area where wildfires are expected. 

Moreover,  if you live in an area with a lot of dry brush, then a chimney spark arrestor can help keep your home safe.

Protecting Your Home

If a fire starts, the spark arrestor will help to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading. This can help to minimize the damage that is done to your home.

Saves You Money

This might not be straightforward, but it is still a benefit. Having a chimney spark arrestor can prevent fires and save money on your insurance premiums. This is because insurance companies often give discounts to homeowners who have taken steps to prevent fires.

Keeping Your Family Safe

Finally, having a chimney spark arrestor can help keep your family safe. If a fire starts, the spark arrestor will help to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading, and this can help keep your family safe from harm.

Is a Chimney Cap the Same as a Spark Arrestor?

A chimney cap is not the same as a spark arrestor. While a chimney cap and a spark arrestor may sound or look the same, they serve two different purposes.

These two devices confuse many homeowners because they sit on top of the chimney but are different.

  • A spark arrestor has wire mesh placed over the opening to prevent sparks, while a chimney cap has a solid cover or screen that goes over the opening.

It would help if you had both a chimney cap and a spark arrestor for your chimney to be safe. The chimney cap will keep animals and debris from getting into your chimney, while the spark arrestor will keep sparks from escaping and starting a fire.

It’s best to consult a professional to see what type of chimney cap and spark arrestor you need for your home. A professional can also help you with installation.

Interior Spark Arrestor VS. Exterior Spark Arrestor

While most spark arrestors are placed on the chimney’s exterior, some are made for the interior. The primary difference between the two is that an interior spark arrestor is placed just above the fire, while an exterior spark arrestor is placed at the top of the chimney.

Interior Spark Arrestor

Interior chimney spark arrestors prevent sparks from floating up and out of your chimney, where they could potentially start a fire.

The main benefit of having an interior spark arrestor is that it can help to prevent hot embers from escaping the fire and going up the chimney. If these embers escape, they can start a fire on the roof or in the chimney itself.

Exterior Spark Arrestor

Exterior chimney spark arrestors, on the other hand, work by deflecting sparks away from your chimney so they can’t float up and out.

The main benefit of having an exterior spark arrestor is that it can help to prevent sparks from escaping the chimney and starting a fire. This is because the spark arrestor is placed at the top of the chimney, where most of the sparks will escape.

Both types of chimney spark arrestors are effective at preventing fires, but interior spark arrestors are more effective at preventing sparks from escaping in the first place.

It’s best to consult a professional to see what type of spark arrestor you need for your home.

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Chimney Spark Arrestor Requirements

There are four main requirements for a chimney spark arrestor, as described by UpCodes. These include:

  1. The spark arrestor’s net-free area shall be at least four times the net-free area of the chimney outlet.
  2. The spark arrestor screen must have comparable heat and corrosion resistance to 19-gauge galvanized or 24-gauge stainless steel.
  3. Openings should not allow spheres with a diameter of more than 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) through, nor should they obstruct the passage of spheres with a diameter of less than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm).
  4. The spark arrestor should be readily available for cleaning, and the chimney cap or screen should be removable to allow for chimney flue cleaning.

How to Install a Chimney Spark Arrestor – A Step-by-Step Guide

Installing a chimney spark arrestor is a relatively simple process, and you can install most types without the help of a professional. We list the step-by-step instructions below.

DIY Disclaimer

We recommend that you consult a professional if you are uncomfortable performing this installation. This guide is meant to serve as a reference for those comfortable completing the installation independently.

Before You Begin

There are a few things you’ll need before you start installing your chimney spark arrestor:

  • A ladder: You’ll need a ladder tall enough to reach the top of your chimney.
  • A screwdriver: This will be used to remove the cap from the chimney.
  • The spark arrestor: Make sure you have the correct size and type of arrestor for your chimney.
  • A brush: You’ll use this to clean the inside of the chimney.

Step 1: Remove the Chimney Cap

If you have a chimney cap, the first step is to remove it. You can do this with a screwdriver. Once the cap is off, set it aside in a safe place.

Step 2: Inspect the Chimney

Now that the cap is off, take a look inside the chimney. If you see any soot or debris, use a brush to clean it. The chimney must be clean before you install the spark arrestor.

Step 3: Attach the Arrestor

Next, it’s time to attach the spark arrestor. Depending on your arrestor type, there are a few different ways to do this. Follow the instructions that came with your arrestor.

In most cases, you’ll need to attach the arrestor to the top of the chimney with screws or bolts. Make sure the arrestor is securely in place.

Step 4: Replace the Chimney Cap

Once the arrestor is in place, you can replace the chimney cap. Again, use a screwdriver to secure the cap in place.

Step 5: Test the Arrestor

To ensure your spark arrestor is working correctly, you can test it by lighting a small fire in the fireplace. The arrestor should prevent any sparks from escaping through the chimney.

Chimney Spark Arrestor Installation Cost

The average cost to install a chimney spark arrestor is $250-$350. However, the price will vary depending on the type of arrestor you choose and the height of your chimney. It’s a good idea to get a few estimates from different companies before you decide on a contractor.

Installing a chimney spark arrestor is a relatively simple process that most people can do. However, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you can hire a professional to do it for you.

Conclusion

Installing a chimney spark arrestor is a great way to prevent sparks from escaping your chimney and starting a fire. Follow the steps we’ve outlined here, and you’ll be able to do it yourself.

If you’re not comfortable doing it, hire a professional. Either way, ensure the job is done right so you can enjoy your fireplace worry-free.

FAQ’s

Do you need a spark arrestor for the wood stove?

Spark arrestors are required for any wood-burning or gas fireplace. If you discover that your house lacks either one, you should have it replaced sooner rather than later.

Chimney spark arrestors won’t only keep your home and family safe but also save you money on your insurance premiums. That’s because your home is at a higher risk of fire without a chimney spark arrestor.

Do I need a spark arrestor for a gas fireplace?

A spark arrestor is not required for a gas fireplace, but installing one is still a good idea. This will help to keep your home and family safe from fire, and it will also lower your insurance premiums.

That’s because a gas fireplace without a spark arrestor is at a much higher risk of fire.

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Thomas Green

Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.