Do I Need a Chimney Cap?

Most homeowners love their fireplace. It serves as a nice, warm spot to read on rainy nights or the place where the family gathers on those cold holiday mornings. And while people know the big picture requirements for owning and maintaining a chimney (like annual inspections and sweepings), they often forget to think about the little things. One such detail is the chimney cap.

Chimney caps are an interesting topic because they’re cheap, easy to have installed, and all too often ignored. To most, if a chimney cap didn’t come with the house, they hardly give the idea a second thought. In fact, one of the most common questions we get is, “Do I need a chimney cap?” Here’s the 100% honest answer:

No, you don’t need one. But you really should have one.

Having a chimney cap will likely not lead to anything as catastrophic as ignoring inspections or letting creosote build-up, but they do serve some very functional purposes for homeowners. The most common reasons for installing a chimney cap, however, are to prevent animal/debris blockage and to provide better protection against harsh weather.

Prevent animals from entering or nesting in your chimney

A big issue for homeowners is having their local wildlife find an entrance to their home via the chimney. While the extent of this risk is dependent upon where you live, it is not uncommon to have squirrels or even raccoons (the latter being a more serious threat to young children) crawl down the chimney and into a home at night. More often than not, however, the real problem is when birds decide to build their nest at the top of your fireplace which is either a gas or fire hazard depending on the type of chimney you own.

Another problem that can arise is having that autumn foliage drift into your chimney. Leaves changing can be beautiful, but a buildup of dried leaves can also become an annoying nuisance needing to be cleaned or even a serious fire hazard.

The bottom line is that you don’t want anything blocking the path above your fireplace, and chimney caps can be the perfect solution.

Weather

When you think about it, a chimney is literally a hole in your roof connecting to your house. It’s designed this way to allow smoke to exit your home, but it works both ways. If there is heavy rainfall, you can expect water to enter your fireplace. More often than not, this is a minor annoyance, but on nights with heavy rain, you can have several inches of rain enter the room where your chimney has been installed. Wind is also an issue to take into consideration. Besides the annoying “howl” that can sometimes be caused by wind blowing through your chimney, your house also becomes susceptible to cold drafts cooling the room—which is ironically the exact opposite of what you want a chimney to do in the first place.

Final thoughts

Installing a chimney cap is not an expensive project, so it’s always surprising to see homes without them. While it may be tempting to install a chimney cap yourself, it may be worth hiring a professional to do so. Installation isn’t difficult, but not all chimney caps are created equal and some serve more specific purposes than others which is something that most hired contractors will be able to help you with.

If you’re located in Nashville, contact Chimney & Masonry Outfitters today to schedule your appointment and learn just how easy it is to get a chimney cap installed today!