Is a Chimney Cap Really Necessary?
by Dave Lamb – firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a common question with a very straight forward answer – YES, every chimney needs a cap! An uncapped chimney is a huge hole in your home! This opening must be closed off with a chimney cap and damper to prevent endless problems from occurring. While some homeowners may opt not to install one due to superficial concerns, every home is better protected with a chimney cap. They may change the look of your chimney top slightly, but the benefits they provide drastically outweigh the minor change in appearance. There are many benefits that a chimney cap can provide. Not only do they keep leaves, moisture and animals out of your chimney, but these small fixtures also keep dangerous burning embers down in the flue chamber and do not let them fly onto your roof as they would if the cap was not in place. For this reason, chimney caps provide safety protection as well as provide a barrier between nature and your home.
The video above shows our crew installing a custom made stainless steel chimney cap soon after they completed a cement chimney crown, partial rebuild and new chimney liner installation on a chimney in West Hartford, CT. These chimney repairs were quite extensive and caused primarily by the lack of any cap to protect the chimney liner, cement chimney crown and masonry on the top of the chimney.
The most obvious reason to install a chimney cap is to keep animals and debris from making a home in or falling into the chimney. Animals, leaves, and twigs can also fall into and accumulate in your chimney. This will also lead to chimney blockages and similar problems as a result. These nests or twigs and leaves may also cause chimney fires. Regardless of what is causing the problem, a clogged chimney is never a good problem to have.
Eliminate the possibility of pests and debris getting into your chimney, and block the opening of the chimney with a chimney cap. During the months when your chimney is not in use animals can use the enclosed walls of the chimney as a nice comforting spot to build a nest. In fact, squirrels can build a 4 foot deep nest in less than 24 hours! It doesn’t take long for your chimney to develop a serious problem.
The best chimney caps to use are typically stainless steel or copper. While chimney caps may come in many different shapes and sizes, the look of the cap if not as important as what it is made out of. For this reason, it is get to hire a chimney sweep to install the cap, as they use high quality caps that come with installation and product warranties. Having a professional do the job is worth the slight extra expense because this installation will last and be sure to protect the chimney.
Fire & Water
Fire can easily be a result of chimney without a top on it. The burning embers from the fire have nothing stopping them once they reach the top of the chimney flue and will continue to fly out and onto your chimney. This can easily cause damage to your roof or result in a house fire. Either way, this problem is simply avoided with the proper installation of a chimney cap.
Water or any type of moisture is the main enemy of a chimney without a cap. Rain, snow, and ice all fall directly down the chimney flue and the freezing and thawing of the moisture throughout the winter can cause damage to the interior of the chimney walls. This can allow cracks to form in the lining of the chimney which eventually will move into the masonry and weaken the entire structure. The chimney crown will also receive more direct wear and tear with no chimney cap to deflect the elements.
Chimney Cap Types
For the most part, metal chimneys are installed along with a matching chimney cap that fits perfectly with the chimney flue. The caps are usually manufactured by the same company as the flue and are therefore a perfect fit for the appliance. Most metal chimneys are made with 3 layers of metal that have air in between each layer. Without a chimney cap, water or moisture can get down into these layers and cause premature damage to or failure of the chimney. Aluminum caps from Home Depot and Lowes may not be what you are looking for. Not only do these chimney caps fall apart after only a short amount of time, but animals can also damage them and speed up the deterioration.
While it may seem like all chimney caps are basically the same this is not the case. Copper and stainless steel are most commonly used by professional sweeps as they provide the best and longest lasting coverage. You have to consider that this little piece of metal is protecting your home from unwelcome animals, debris and moisture from entering your home as well as allowing gases to escape. These gases can be very harmful if the route to the outside is blocked and they get backed up into the home. For this reason, it is best to call a chimney sweep so that they can determine the best type of chimney cap to use for your chimney to allow the bad things to escape and the other things not to enter in the first place.
If you have multiple flues in your chimney, a multi flue cap may be your best option. These larger caps can cover two or more chimney flues at the same time, saving you money and some people think it is a more appealing look than having multiple caps in close proximity. Custom chimney caps can be fabricated to fit or retrofit any situation.
A chimney cap is a minor installation that can prevent many major problems — don’t wait for it to become a necessity or cause more damage to the other parts of your chimney system.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc • 37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110 • Phone: 860-233-5770