Winter weather can be unpredictable – particularly in middle Tennessee. Mild, sunny days can quickly give way to freezing temperatures, snow, and even ice storms. Because of this, many families rely on their fireplace systems to help them stay cozy and warm no matter the weather.
Because we rely on our fireplaces and chimneys during the winter, it is important to take steps to protect them. In addition to regular chimney maintenance, there is one significant way homeowners can protect their chimneys: trimming nearby overhanging tree branches. Pruning trees and cutting away overhanging limbs can protect your chimney – and your roof – from damage both during the winter and throughout the rest of the year.
Problems caused by overhanging limbs
Tree limbs that hang over the roof and chimney might help shade your home, but there can create a number of fireplace problems. The following are four of the most common problems caused by overhanging limbs.
Trees that surround a house may create lots of shade on sunny days, but they can also create chimney blockages. Leaves, branches, small twigs, seed pods, acorns, and more can fall onto the roof or into the chimney; in addition to clogging gutters, this tree debris can also clog the chimney. This is particularly common in homes with uncapped chimneys or when the chimney cap has been damaged.
Plant-based debris quickly dries out in the flue, becoming brittle – and highly flammable. In addition to preventing proper chimney drafting, this can increase the risk of an accidental chimney fire. Trimming back branches so they do not hang over the chimney can help prevent blockages from occurring.
Chimneys need to be able to pull in outside air in order to create proper drafting. Nearby trees or overhanging branches can have a negative impact on chimney drafting clearances; this can prevent the chimney from drawing in enough air to feed the fire as well as push smoke and gas out. To prevent drafting issues, all trees within at least 10 feet of the chimney should be trimmed to heights 2 feet shorter than the chimney height.
Overhanging branches create a highway in the sky for raccoons, squirrels, birds, and other small animals, providing them a direct route to access your chimney. Cutting back overhanging branches can make it difficult for animals to access the roof; this, when combined with other chimney components such as chimney caps, can help deter animal entry altogether.
When heavy ice forms on trees it can cause branches to crack, break, and fall. Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance may not cover the damages; claims related to falling tree limbs may be denied if nearby tree limbs at risk of breaking were not properly removed. To prevent damage to the chimney and roof – and prevent insurance claims from being denied – trim back tree limbs that are too close to the roofline.
Don’t let trees damage your chimney this winter; trimming or pruning them now is an easy way to keep your chimney system burning safely and efficiently all winter long. For more information on chimney safety this winter, contact Coopertown Services today!