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What is a chimney cap?

Chimney caps are metal shields fitted to the top of your chimney crown. They typically consist of a solid cover resting atop wire mesh sides but are available in various styles to match the exterior of your home. Copper and steel are the preferred components, as aluminum caps are usually of low quality.

Although a chimney cap may appear to be a decorative extra, they actually fulfill a number of useful functions, making a quality one a sound investment considering the high cost of chimney or home repairs and the relatively low cost of purchasing and installing a cap.

The most obvious function of a chimney cap is to prevent entry into your chimney from both debris and small animals. Leaves and twigs can easily accumulate in a chimney from the surrounding trees, and squirrels, birds, or other creatures are notorious for taking up residence in an accessible flue. Lighting a fire beneath these large piles of debris in your chimney is extremely dangerous for several reasons. The trash or nest could ignite into a roaring chimney fire or the blocked smoke could begin to expose the home to smoke damage and dangerous carbon monoxide levels. A chimney cap is a small price to pay to avoid either of these hazardous situations!

The solid cover of a chimney cap also prevents moisture entry into your chimney opening. This can be a major problem for chimneys due to the extreme fluctuations of temperature in the flue, which predispose the liner to developing small cracks over time. Any of these small cracks will worsen much faster if rain and snow are allowed to settle in them, and left to themselves, they will move into the masonry of the chimney and quickly degrade the entire structure. Although a chimney cap will not prevent all liner cracks from developing, it will extend the life of the chimney system by minimizing the aggravating effects of moisture.

Another closely related benefit is the protection from the elements that it affords to the chimney crown itself. By taking the brunt of the wind, snow, and rain, a chimney cap will help to protect the top of the structure that allows you to enjoy your stove or fireplace.

A final reason to invest in a chimney cap is to protect your roof from burning embers that may escape up the chimney flue from a wood fire. Without a cap, nothing prevents these flaming particles from landing on your roof or in a treetop and some of these have already started fires on or around houses. Again, this is a major catastrophe that can easily be averted by the installation of this simple device.

With all of these obvious benefits, why would anyone hesitate to install a cap on their chimney? One fear sometimes voiced is that a chimney cap will cause a draft problem. Although it is true that a cheap aluminum chimney cap improperly installed could lead to drafting issues, this should not be a concern with a high-quality copper or stainless-steel cap that is properly fitted and installed on your roof. In fact, high-quality chimney caps are designed specifically to correct and reduce drafting problems and to prevent smoke from filtering back into your home. If you follow the recommendations of a chimney sweep professional and carefully measure and install the proper cap for your chimney, you should not encounter any problems with it.


Don’t wait to experience any of the catastrophes that this simple, inexpensive structure can prevent. Install a cap on your chimney today.

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