While our chimneys may seem simple, they are actually made of a number of different components that each play an important role. One of the most important – but often ignored – parts of the chimney system is the chimney cap. Chimney caps protect the fireplace from water damage, animal entry, and debris buildup; because they cannot be seen from street level, however, many homeowners do not know when their chimney caps need to be repaired or replaced.
What is a chimney cap?
A chimney cap is a metal cover that protects the top of the chimney structure as well as the top of the flue. Made of out metal, chimney caps have a solid hood with wire or mesh sides; this allows smoke and gasses to safely draft out of the fireplace while preventing animals, debris, and water from getting in.
The price range for chimney caps varies by the quality and materials; a new chimney cap can range anywhere from $50 to $1500 dollars. Differences in chimney caps include double flue caps, heavy meshed bolted down caps, small venting caps, chase pan covers, and top-mounted dampers. Other pricing differences include access to the roofline, extra visits needed for measurements or installation, or the need of additional access equipment.
Choosing the right chimney cap
There is not one “standard” chimney cap. There are a variety of chimney caps – including custom chimney caps designed specifically for your unique chimney size and shape. Most homes still have their original, factory-built chimney cap. While effective, they can rust and deteriorate over time.
At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we install a variety of chimney caps; this includes small furnace flue caps, standard metal rain covers and screencaps, top-mounted dampers, and large chase pan caps that are found on manufactured fireplaces.
The type of chimney cap your home requires depends on a number of factors including the type of fireplace, fuel source, size of the chimney, and age of the fireplace system. We often recommend stainless steel chimney caps to our customers; stainless steel prevents future rusting and can be attached securely to prevent movement in severe weather.
Likewise, stainless steel chimney caps are also durable enough to prevent animal entry. Raccoons are notorious at clawing, biting, and scratching at chimney caps to create gaps in the mesh; once they have damaged the chimney cap, raccoons can access the chimney and build a nest for their young in the flue.
Consider switching to a top-mounted damper!
While we recommend that every chimney has a chimney cap, there is another option: a top-mounted damper. Top-mounted dampers replace the traditional throat dampers that most fireplaces have while also replacing the need for a chimney cap.
Top-mounted dampers are located at the top of the chimney structure in place of a traditional chimney cap. When closed, the entire chimney and flue is sealed from outside air; this prevents outside air – as well as animals and debris – from entering the chimney. When the fireplace is in use, the damper can be easily opened to allow smoke and gasses to safely draft out of the chimney.
Top-mounted dampers are considered an energy-efficient chimney upgrade. While installing a top-mounted damper does not make a fireplace itself more efficient, it can help lower heating and cooling costs for your home. Because the entire flue is closed from outside air, the air temperature in the flue is not affected by the air temperature outside. This helps keep the rooms surrounding the flue at a more consistent temperature, reducing the utility costs associated with heating and cooling the home.
Why do I need a chimney cap?
Chimney caps serve an important purpose; every chimney needs one! Whether you choose a standard chimney cap, have one custom-designed for your specific chimney, or opt to install a top-mounted damper, the following are three of the major reasons all chimneys need a chimney cap.
- Keep out animals. Animals love chimneys! Birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals view chimneys as a safe and protected space to build nests, birth young, and hide from predators. Unfortunately, an uncapped chimney – or a chimney with a damaged chimney cap – is an open invitation for animals to nest in your flue. Animals in the flue can cause damage to the chimney system, create blockages that prevent proper drafting, increase the risk of chimney fire due to dried nesting materials, or even expose members occupants of the house to insects or disease.
- Prevent debris from blocking the chimney. Without a chimney cap, chimneys can be prone to blockages from leaves and twigs; even stray balls, frisbees, or blowing plastic bags can fall into an uncapped chimney! This debris can then cause chimney blockages; a blockage can prevent smoke and gas from drafting properly, keep fires from burning as the chimney cannot draw in outside air, or cause smoke to back up into the room.
- Prevent water damage. The exterior of the chimney is designed to withstand the elements; internal chimney components are designed to withstand heat. If the chimney cap is missing or damaged, water can severely damage interior fireplace components. Cracks to the flue liner, rust on the damper, or water in the firebox can all indicate a leaky chimney. Likewise, water in the cold, dark flue can lead to mold or mildew growth if the source of the leak is not repaired.
A well-fitted, well-constructed chimney cap can help keep your fireplace system in good condition for years to come. For more information on the importance of the chimney cap or to have your chimney cap inspected contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!
A chimney cap is more than just a decorative accessory. This important chimney component protects the entire fireplace system. Without a chimney cap, fireplaces can suffer from moisture damage, animal entry, and more. Investing in a quality chimney cap can help keep the chimney and fireplace in good condition for years to come.
What is a chimney cap?
A chimney cap is a covering for the top of the chimney. It sits at the top of the chimney crown. The chimney cap is a fitted metal hood with mesh or wire sides. This allows the chimney to vent and draft properly while protecting the flue from moisture, debris, animals, and more. Chimney caps come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and metals. This allows homeowners to choose one that is both functional and decorative. Custom chimney caps can also be designed to create a unique chimney component.
Reasons to invest in a chimney cap
A quality chimney cap is an important investment. The chimney cap protects the flue and fireplace against animals, the elements, debris, and more. It is important to have a chimney cap that fits, installed correctly, and made with quality materials. The following are three reasons to invest in a chimney cap.
- Chimney caps help prevent leaks. Moisture is one of the most damaging forces to the interior and exterior of the chimney. Chimney caps prevent water from entering the chimney by covering the top of the flue. This keeps water from rain, and snow from entering the chimney. While bricks and mortar are designed to withstand exposure to the elements, interior fireplace components are made to withstand heat. If a chimney leak occurs, even minor amounts of water can cause major damage. Cracked clay tiles in the liner, rusty dampers, or mold and mildew growth are all symptoms of a leaky – or uncapped – chimney.
- Chimney caps keep animals out. For animals including birds, raccoons, squirrels, and more, the chimney is a safe, cool, enclosed space to build a nest or hide from predators. Unfortunately, animals in the chimney can be extremely damaging to the fireplace system – and even hazardous to your health. Chimney caps help keep animals out; while the mesh or wire sides of the chimney cap allow proper drafting to occur. The tiny holes also prevent even the most intrepid birds or raccoons from entering the flue. Without a chimney cap, animals can freely enter the chimney. Animals trapped in the chimney can build nests, leave behind droppings, create blockages, and even expose your family to pests and parasites.
- Chimney caps reduce the risk of fire. Chimney caps are sometimes known as spark arrestors; this is because the mesh or wire sides can stop stray sparks and embers from traveling out of the flue and onto the roof. Keeping stray sparks off of the roof can help reduce the risk of accidental fire to the roof or other nearby structures when the fireplace is in use.
Invest in a new chimney cap today!
A quality, well-fitting chimney cap is an important chimney component that protects the fireplace from the bottom of the firebox to the top of the flue. For more information on the importance of investing in a quality chimney cap, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!
While all parts of the chimney serve a specific purpose, few are as important as the chimney cap. A quality chimney cap can protect your entire fireplace system and keep it in good condition for years to come.
What is a chimney cap?
A chimney cap is a fitted metal hood that sits on top of the chimney structure and protects the top of the flue. Chimney caps have a solid top and mesh or wire sides. The solid top protects the chimney from moisture, animals, and debris while the open sides allow smoke and gas to safely vent.
Three ways a chimney cap protects your home
The following are three of the ways installing a chimney cap can protect your fireplace system.
1. Keep animals out
Raccoons, squirrels, birds, and other animals view chimneys as a safe, dark, enclosed and protected place to hide from predators and build nests. Unfortunately, animal entry can cause serious damage to your fireplace and chimney.
Animals damage the chimney and fireplace in a number of ways. First, they can scratch interior fireplace components such as the chimney liner. If your chimney has a clay tile liner, it may be necessary to reline the entire flue. Animal entry also increases the risk of chimney fire; nesting materials, food, and droppings can become dry in the flue and accidentally ignite from a stray spark or ember. The presence of animals in the chimney can also expose your family to diseases and pests such as lice or maggots – as well as the smells associated with a trapped animal.
2. Reduce risk of accidental fire
While fireplace safety and chimney maintenance significantly reduces the risk of chimney fire, chimney caps are an additional level of protection against accidental fires. First, the solid metal top and mesh sides act as spark catchers; it prevents embers, sparks, and hot coals from landing on the roof. Chimney caps also reduce the risk of fire by keeping debris out of the chimney. This keeps them from accumulating in the flue and drying out or catching fire.
Water from rain, sleet, snow, ice, and even sprinklers and hoses can be extremely damaging to your chimney. While fireplace and chimney components are designed to withstand extreme heat, even small amounts of moisture can cause significant damage.
Whether it is from a few droplets of a serious leak, water wreaks havoc throughout the chimney. Moisture can cause cracks in clay tile chimney liners, rust dampers, and even damage surrounding insulation, ceilings, and building materials. The combination of water along with the dark, moist chimney can also lead to mold and mildew growth.
Have your chimney cap inspected today!
A quality, well fitting chimney cap is an important part of protecting your entire chimney system. Contact the experts at Jack Pixley Sweeps to schedule your next chimney cap inspection. Our expert staff of CSIA certified chimney sweeps can ensure your chimney cap is in good condition, recommend necessary repairs, or even help you find a new chimney cap for your fireplace system.