It’s always nice to have a fireplace. There is a certain joy to hear the crackling of a thick log and there is a warmth that only a roaring fire can provide. The downside to having a fireplace in your home is that maintaining a chimney properly can be expensive and time consuming if you don’t know where to start. An improperly kept chimney can lead to reduced performance and efficiency in your fireplace and can even be a fire hazard. Knowing how to safely maintain your chimney cap will also help you save money along the way so that you can get back to curling up next to your cozy hearth.
What is a chimney cap?
Simply put, a chimney cap is a metal fixture that sits atop your house’s chimney stack that allows air and smoke to flow freely but keeps birds and rodents from nesting in your chimney or entering your house from the top. Even if you have one on your roof right now, it may be time to repair or fully replace it with a new one. It is a good rule of thumb to inspect your chimney cap every fall before winter sets in because it’s easier and safer to make replacements or repairs during the warmer months before snowfall becomes an issue. Chimney caps are an important part of your home’s overall safety plan.
Besides keeping unwanted pests and water out of your chimney, caps also help prevent your chimney from tossing large embers and sparks out onto your roof and out into the surrounding areas around your house. This is a potential fire hazard for both your house and could possibly lead to a forest fire if your chimney is part of a cabin in or near the woods. Safety first! Which is why we recommend regular inspection and maintenance of your chimney inside and out. When in doubt, call an expert. If you have any questions about chimney caps or would like to purchase one for your home or would like to get a great deal on bulk orders, then contact us today and we’ll get you taken care of.
Chimney cap cost
Chimney caps typically cost between $50 and $150 depending on a few factors like how large your chimney flue is, what your chimney and flue are made of, and what type of chimney you have. FAMCO offers a wide variety of chimney caps for sale that you can buy today. Our USA made products are of the highest quality and are backed by world class customer service that will ensure your project goes well from end to end.
In general, we recommend having a professional inspect and install a new chimney flue cap, but it is possible to install just about any style of chimney cap yourself with just a few handy tools and materials. We will cover exactly how to install a chimney cap later on in this article. If you’re looking for a place to buy chimney caps, then we are it! We sell copper, stainless steel, and galvanized steel caps as well. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have regarding chimney caps or any of our other fantastic products for your DIY or new home construction needs. Reach us today at: (800) 234-1903.
Chimney cap replacement
With every fireplace there comes a time where the chimney cap must be replaced. Winds, creosote buildup, and wildlife can all cause wear and tear on your chimney cap and the surrounding chimney flue area. While pests and water leakage are definitely issues that would typically call for a chimney cap replacement, the number issue is typically problems with airflow and downdrafts.
We can help you find the right chimney cap replacement to help fit your needs! Call us and we can help you find the right size, style, and material to fit your house perfectly. We even offer free shipping on select purchases and discounts for bulk orders through our Pro’s Advantage program. See our free shipping policy for details.
How to install a chimney cap / Chimney cap installation
If your cap is damaged or loose, or there are animals nesting in your chimney flue, then it’s time to replace your old chimney cap. We’ll go through the entire step by step process including all of the tools you’ll need in order to accomplish this on the first try. As always, we recommend at least two people working on a project like this in order to ensure a safe working environment, especially when it involves climbing up on and working on a roof. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, then safely leave the roof and call a local professional to help install it for you. Your health and safety is our number one priority.
Before you climb up on your roof make sure to check the day’s weather forecast. If it calls for rain, snow, or even high winds, then you may want to delay your project until the weather clears up. Anytime you’re operating on a roof, you have to be extra aware of wet and windy weather as that can pose a safety risk while up on the roof. After you’ve checked the weather report, you’ll want to secure a ladder that is long enough for you to safely reach the roof of your house. Have a spouse or friend hold the ladder for you as you go up on your roof.
Pro tip: Check first. Buy later.
Before you can even start on this project, you’ll have to go up on your roof and closely inspect your chimney and the flue vents themselves. You’ll have to inspect for any nests, soot buildup, or cracks or damage to the masonry around the top or crown of your chimney. If you see a huge buildup of soot or other blockages in your chimney, then you will have to get that professionally removed and cleaned before proceeding to put a new chimney cap on.
While you’re up there, you’ll need to accomplish three things:
- Inspect the flue holes for blockages, pests, etc. You may need to clean out your chimney before proceeding if there are any pests, nests, or other blockages like creosote present. Contact a local chimney cleaning professional to have them take care of it for you before installing the new cap.
- Determine the condition of the masonry surrounding the crown. If it is heavily damaged or worn down, then you may not be able to safely install a new chimney cap and you may need to reach out to a professional to get the masonry repaired or replaced.
- Measure the length, width, and diameter of your flue vents. This is important because it will determine which type of cap and what size of cap you should buy and install. Note: If your flues adapters to round, then measure the diameter.
- Depending on the type of chimney and flue combination you have, you may have to buy a different combination of chimney caps and adapters. The most common types of chimneys are as follows:
Masonry chimney with flue. These typically have one two or three raised clay flues that protrude from the surface of the masonry. To cap these you will need a larger “multi flue chimney cap” that sits atop the entire top surface of the masonry chimney.
Masonry chimney without flue. This type of chimney is typically capped with a multi flue cap like the above style, but can also be capped with a single flue cap accompanied by mounting brackets.
Metallic pre-fab chimney. This is a more modern take on the chimney and is often found on newer or pre-fab homes. It is essentially a single metal pipe protruding from the roof that accepts a cap at the top. There is a variation of this that is called a chase chimney or a chimney with a chase cover which is a hollow wooden or faux masonry device that covers the actual chimney pipe that protrudes from the roof.
There are several ways to cap a chimney and each way depends on what type of chimney you have and the size of your chimney. Today we are going to talk about the most common type of chimney on new and pre-fab homes today, the metallic chimney.
To install a new cap on a metallic chimney, here’s what You’ll Need:
Now that you’re ready to get started in earnest and you have measured your flue for the proper cap type, here’s what you’ll need to have on hand in order to safely and effectively install a new chimney cap on your home. (If your home has a masonry chimney, then you can buy a masonry to metal chimney transition which will fit around the masonry and allow you to top your chimney with a traditional round chimney cap)
- Safety ladder in order to access your roof (and a partner to help hold the ladder steady as you climb)
- Leather work gloves
- High traction work boots or other appropriate footwear for work on a roof
- Construction pencil, paper, clipboard for noting measurements and other information as you inspect, install, and measure the flue for proper fitment
- Tape measure
- (Optional) Digital camera or smartphone camera in order to take pictures of exactly what your crown looks like to help make buying the right cap easier once you’re away from the roof
- 1 carbide tipped masonry drill bit, 3/16ths inch in diameter by 4 ½ inches in length
- 8 to 10 masonry screws. They should be ¼ inch around and 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inches long to get a real grip on the chimney crown
- New chimney flue cap (and your masonry to metal chimney transition, depending on your type of chimney)
- Phillips #2 screwdriver
Step 1: Get Your Roof Workspace Set Up Safely
Carefully climb the ladder with your needed gear in a construction grade leather or reinforced nylon gear bag or bucket. You can either attach the bag to your shoulder or back while climbing the ladder or have someone attach a rope to it on the ground which they can then toss up to you when you’re up there so you can safely pull it up. Make sure your hands are free while you are climbing the ladder so you can reach the roof safely.
Once you’re up on the roof and your tools and proper chimney cap (that you measured and purchased beforehand) are resting in a secure area near the chimney crown, then you can get started. Make sure that your tools and supplies are resting safely and not constantly slipping or rolling down the sides of your roof.
Step 2: Prep The Chimney Crown For Work
You’ll need to do a few things to ensure your new cap will be secure and leak free once it is installed. Visually inspect the crown for debris, loose rocks or pebbles, and animal droppings. Using a stiff handheld brush broom or dry paintbrush, brush off any loose sand, pebbles, or debris that has built up on the crown over time. Any debris left on top could inhibit the seal and fitment of the cap once it is installed. Ensure that your chimney is clean and free of clutter before installing your new cap.
Step 3: Place New Cap
Take your new chimney cap out of any packaging or container and carefully place it over your flue. Ensure that the size and fitment is correct. There can be some wiggle room, but not a lot. The cap should fit snugly to ensure proper function. Tighten draw bolt as applicable.
Step 4: Observe Fit And Clean Up
Do another visual inspection around the entire chimney area. Look to see that the cap is now evenly and properly aligned with the crown and that there are no gaps or holes around the edges. If the masonry looks like it is too worn or cracked, then you may have to do some repairs to get everything air and water tight again around the chimney base. Then, make sure that you have all of your tools and materials safely stowed in your bucket or bag and carefully lower it off the roof to your assistant. Then have them hold the ladder as you climb back down to safety.
Congratulations! You have safely installed a new chimney cap. Check back in about 2 to 3 days to make sure that the wind or rain hasn’t shifted or damaged the new cap. As we mentioned before, it’s a good idea to inspect your chimney once a year or every other year to make sure that rodents or other pests aren’t making a home up there and that your cap is venting things properly and isn’t obscured.