Many homeowners don’t know what a chimney cap is—or why they need one—until they start having issues. Whether you’re dealing with suspicious rustling sounds or water-damaged walls, there’s a good chance a missing cap is the culprit.
In this blog, we’ll answer our most frequently asked questions about chimney caps, including:
- What is a chimney cap?
- What does a chimney cap do?
- Why do you need a chimney cap?
- How do you install a chimney cap?
- How much is a chimney cap?
A chimney cap is a cover, typically made of metal, that sits on top of your chimney crown. While each cap will look different depending on the chimney and crown construction, it typically contains a solid piece of metal on top with mesh sides.
A chimney cap covers the open hole left by your chimney flue while allowing smoke and air to escape. It uses a mini roof-like structure to prevent the following from entering your flue and getting into your home:
- Water: Rain and snow can directly enter your chimney and cause significant damage if you don’t have a cap. Your chimney cap directs water away from the chimney and off your roof, so your flue and fireplace remain dry.
- Animals: Your chimney is warm, dark, and wind-free—making it an appealing home for critters. Raccoons, squirrels, and birds may bring debris into your chimney and create nests. Plus, they may fall down your flue and get trapped or enter your home. That’s why caps typically contain mesh sides that prevent animals from getting in.
- Debris: A gust of wind or thunderstorm can blow leaves, twigs, and branches into uncapped chimneys.
If your chimney has been cap-less for years and you haven’t noticed any animal, debris, or moisture issues, you may wonder if you really need a chimney cap. But just because you can’t see any problems doesn’t mean they’re not there.
In addition to keeping out pests and water, installing a chimney cap comes with several benefits, including:
Furry critters may be cute when they’re scurrying across your yard, but you probably don’t want to share your house with them. With a cap, you don’t have to worry about animals camping out in your chimney.
Chimney caps aren’t just a barrier for water and animals; they can also keep air out. Fewer drafts means you can keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer and prevent smoke from filling your home when using your fireplace.
When water seeps down your chimney, it creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to form. Mold spores can spread and cause allergic reactions and upper respiratory issues. Installing a chimney cap is a simple way to prevent moisture and help keep you and your family safe from health hazards.
Moisture in your chimney can lead to crumbling bricks, loose mortar, and cracks in the flue and firebox. Keeping your chimney dry can reduce the need for repairs and keep your chimney safe and functional for longer.
Twigs, animal nests, and other debris can be fuel for a chimney fire, which can spread into your home. Additionally, sparks exiting your chimney can cause your roof and even the grass outside your home to catch fire. Chimney caps keep sparks in and debris out, lowering your risk of a fire.
While you may be able to install a chimney cap on your own, it’s typically best to seek out a professional. A professional chimney company will use the following process:
- Perform a chimney inspection and measure the flue: Most chimney cap installations begin with a visual inspection of your chimney. If your chimney company notices debris or creosote buildup, they can perform a chimney sweep and any necessary repairs before the cap installation. Then, your chimney professional will measure the flue or crown to determine what size chimney cap you need.
- Source or fabricate a chimney cap: If your chimney flue is standard, your installer can source a premade chimney cap. You may need a custom-fabricated cap if you have a unique chimney or want a particular style.
- Install the cap: Your installer will either attach an outer-mounting cap to your chimney flue or a top-mount cap to the crown.
The cost of your chimney cap installation will depend on the size of your chimney, the material of the cap, and the amount of labor involved. Your local chimney inspection and cleaning company can offer a customized quote for your home.
If you’ve noticed water damage, drafts, or an animal taking shelter in your chimney, it’s time to call in a professional. At Approved Home Improvements, we have over 30 years of experience helping St. Louis homeowners fix and restore their chimney issues so it looks and functions like it did the day it was built. Our team can choose a cap that protects your home and matches its aesthetic, whether you live in a century home or a new build.
Our team also specializes in chimney sweeps, tuckpointing, and repairs for your flue, firebox, and crown. If we notice damage during our initial inspection, we can recommend repairs that can save you thousands down the road. Contact us today to request a free chimney quote.