Chimney Caps 101: Your Essential Guide
There are several things that your chimney needs in order to stay in top condition. One of these accessories is the chimney cap. When it’s in place, you’ll never even think about it, but if it’s damaged or missing, you’ll soon know about it. Here’s everything that you need to know about chimney caps and why you need them.
What Are Chimney Caps?
Firstly, what even is a chimney cap? These are typically a metal mesh cover that sits atop your chimney, around your chimney flue. They’re designed to protect your chimney from several things, so your chimney can stay in top condition.
The main purpose is to keep rain water out of your chimney flue. It’s open to the sky by design to allow gases to make their way up and out of the fireplace. Being open, though, it’s also perfect for letting water in. You want to avoid that, as that will cause all kinds of damage to the fireplace and chimney itself. The chimney caps help keep that water out.
They’re also designed to keep out pests, too. Animals like birds and squirrels love chimneys, as they offer a dark and safe space for them to nest in. This creates several problems for you. In some states, it’s illegal to remove a nesting animal, so you’ll have to wait until they move on. Then, that empty nest causes issues as it blocks smoke from leaving the chimney. Even worse, it’s a fire hazard. Using a chimney cap means that those animals can’t get in in the first place.
Finally, that chimney cap will help stop lit embers from letting them go out of the chimney and onto your roof. While some roofs are mostly fireproof, others aren’t, and you don’t want to take the risk of an ember starting a fire up there.
Chimney Cap Materials
All chimney caps are typically made of metal, but there are lots of different options when it comes to the kind of metal that’s used. They all have their own benefits, too. If you’re shopping around for a chimney cap, then you’ll see the following on sale:
- Galvanized steel: This is the cheapest metal that can be used in making chimney caps, so it will be the first choice for a lot of people. However, they are the least durable and typically only last for around five years. That’s because they’re prone to corrosion out in the elements.
- Aluminum: This is the next choice for homeowners on a budget. It’s often better than galvanized steel as it’s much less prone to corrosion but still relatively cheap. However, aluminum is lightweight, so it’s very easy for the wind to pull at it and debris and heavy rain to break it.
- Copper: Copper is a good choice if you want a chimney cap that is stylish and fits in with a traditionally styled home. They’re also long-lasting as the metal is durable and resistant to corrosion, too. However, these do need more maintenance if you want them to stop turning green over time.
- Stainless steel: If you talk to any expert, they will tell you that stainless steel chimney caps are the best option. These are more expensive than aluminum or galvanized steel, but they offer a lot more durability against the elements. As such, they’ll last longer and need a lot less maintenance.
Which Chimney Cap Is Right For You?
There are multiple types of chimney caps on the market, so any one of these should be what you’re looking for. Here are the types that are available right now and their benefits.
- Shelter chimney caps: These are the most basic type of chimney caps, as they have a simple square or rectangular design and are attached to the flue. Once there, they should protect the entire top of the chimney. You can have them custom-made for your chimney, and it is recommended as it helps give you better protection.
- Single flue or single wall chimney caps: These are the most common chimney caps that you’ll see out there. They are attached to your chimney with clamps, legs, screws or brackets, and that helps fit the flue exactly and keep all that debris and water out.
- Wind directional chimney cap: If you have a draft-heavy fireplace, this could be the chimney cap for you. They’re designed to force smoke up and out of the chimney, using the wind to create an up draft. You’ll most commonly see these on factory-built metal chimneys.
- Wind resistant or high wind chimney cap: On the other hand, you can get a wind-resistant chimney cap. These are designed to protect you from wind-induced down drafts through your chimney. It does so by reducing the path for the wind to make its way in and downwards.
- Hurricane or storm chimney caps: If you live in an area that’s prone to storms, then you’ll want to consider these chimney caps. They have a layer of solid walls, with space inside for airflow. As they don’t use mesh, they’re a lot more solid and resistant to high winds. The lack of mesh means that you won’t find debris caught in them after storms, either.
Inspecting Your Chimney Cap
If you have a chimney cap installed, you’ll want to ensure you’re taking good care of it, along with your chimney and the roof in general. If your cap were to be damaged due to storms or exposure, then your chimney won’t be protected.
When you do your roof inspections, you’ll always want to make sure that you’re checking your chimney cap. Ensure that it’s attached securely to the flue and that it hasn’t taken on any damage. If it has, then you’ll want to ensure you have it replaced ASAP.
Your chimney cap is more important than you know when it comes to protecting your home. Knowing what they do and the options available to you is vital to keeping your chimney in top condition over time.