A chimney cap is a protective metal cap that fits over the top of the flue or chimney top. Chimney caps are a great way to protect your chimney and home from damage due to rain and other inclement weather, birds and animals, and sparks. Some chimney caps can even improve the functioning of your chimney.
Chimney Caps and the Weather
Without a chimney cap, rain and other precipitation can run down the interior of your chimney, and be absorbed into the bricks and mortar. Changes in weather can cause the water to expand or contract, deteriorating the masonry and damaging your chimney's structural stability. Without a cap, rain entering through the chimney can even damage your ceiling or walls.
Birds, Small Animals, and Your Chimney
Chimneys are also very popular with birds and small mammals such as squirrels and raccoons. These creatures are attracted to the warmth and security of chimneys. However, the incessant cheeping of baby birds and certain mammal species can quickly wear nerves thin and sometimes the animals can become confused or trapped and attempt to escape through the bottom, not the top of the chimney, potentially causing damage to furnishings, rugs, curtains, and more. In addition, many wild animals carry parasites such as fleas or lice and even diseases like rabies. Bird and animal nests are also highly flammable and can block the chimney, causing smoke and other fumes to become trapped, further increasing the risk of fire.
Other Benefits of Chimney Caps
In addition to preventing rain and animals from getting into your chimney, chimney caps can also prevent sparks from getting out and potentially damaging your roof. Some chimney caps can also improve the functioning of your chimney. In some older chimneys, missing or damaged damping mechanisms can result in a cold draft from the chimney when not in use. Special chimney caps with top-sealing dampers integrated into the cap are available to solve this problem. Draft-increasing caps can help create a stronger updraft in your chimney if you have draft problems.
Variety of Styles of Chimney Caps
Chimney caps are available in a variety of styles and materials. Stainless steel and copper caps are the most durable metal caps (they often come with lifetime warranties) and, unlike many masonry or concrete caps, include mesh to prevent animals from getting in and larger sparks getting out. Chimney caps can be fitted directly on to the flue or, for maximum protection, fit over the entire chimney top. Many companies also produce custom caps for odd-shaped chimneys or customers who want to add a unique flair to their exterior home design.