8 Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Chimney Caps

Ace Gutter StaffChimney caps

chimney cap installation

Your chimney is a pretty solid structure made from brick, stones, and mortar- materials known to stand the test of time. However, if there’s one thing that can break it for good, it’s precipitation.

Water entering your chimney can damage the liners, dampers, and mortar joints, causing them to fail before their time. What’s worse, it can also breed mold/mildew and increase your indoor humidity.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: chimney caps! 

Chimney caps are one of the best lines of defense against serious chimney problems, including water, pests, and downdrafts, among other things. They’re designed to keep your chimneys clean so you can enjoy your fireplace all winter. 

8 Hidden Pitfalls While Chimney Caps Installation

While chimney caps installation isn’t rocket science, you must be aware of a few hidden pitfalls if you’re planning to take the DIY route. In this post, we’ll walk you through eight of them in detail.

1. Using Incorrect Measurements

Not all chimneys are made the same, and neither are chimney caps. The last thing you need is an oversized/undersized chimney cap wreaking havoc on your home. 

Measuring your chimneys is the first step to a successful installation. Get it right, and everything else will fall into place.

Need help? Here’s how to correctly size your chimney for caps:

  • For one square flue, measure the external length and width in inches. 
  • For round flues, note the internal and external diameter of the innermost pipe in inches. 
  • For multiple flues, check the height of the tallest and the width required to cover all of them at once

A word of advice here. Take note of all the measurements you require before you go up the ladder. Also, don’t forget to bring a measuring tape, paper, and a pen to jot things down.

2. Choosing the Wrong Material 

Generally speaking, chimney caps are made from stainless steel, galvanized steel, or copper.  

  • Stainless steel chimney caps are incredibly durable and come with a lifetime warranty.
  • Galvanized steel caps are easier on the pocket but can rust after a few years. They’re also incompatible with gas logs. 
  • Copper chimneys are the most expensive. However, they are quite high-maintenance. 

We recommend weighing a chimney cap’s cost, lifespan, and maintenance requirements before deciding on it. Also, remember to check if the material is suited to the weather in your area. For example, galvanized steel chimney caps might not be the best fit for rainy regions. But if you’re living in the drier parts of the country, they should work just fine.

3. Not Securing the Caps Properly

Improperly installed chimney caps are at high risk of flying off during strong winds and inflicting damage on your property. Worse still, they can accidentally strike your loved ones and seriously injure them.  

Remember, custom chimney caps that slide into the flue can slide out just as easily. Be sure to use chimney caps that can screw onto your roof for maximum security.

4. Forgetting to Inspect/Repair Your Chimney Crown

Installing Utah chimney caps without inspecting the crown is a strict no-no because you might just be covering up trouble. In case your chimney has a concrete crown at the top, check it for cracks or loose chunks. Depending on the size of the gaps, you’ll need to apply a sealant or call for professional help.  

But why go through all the trouble? Well, simply placing a chimney cap on a damaged crown won’t prevent further deterioration, as moisture will still enter the cracks and freeze. 

If you have a framed chimney with a metal chase cover, look for holes or notable signs of rusting, especially if they are made of galvanized steel.

5. Not Adding an Internal Damper System

Chimney damper systems can insulate your home and prevent energy loss, saving you a ton in energy bills. Many older chimneys do not come with a damper mechanism- or have one that’s worn out. 

In such cases, buying a sealing damper chimney cap can be a cheaper alternative to installing a traditional, full-blown chimney damper. Even if your existing damper is in pristine condition, having an additional one won’t hurt.

6. Not Checking the Mesh Size

Most chimney caps have a mesh ring running around the side to keep debris out (and embers in). Because this mesh comes in different sizes, you must choose one with openings about three-fourths of an inch across.

A larger gap might let embers escape from the chimney and cause fires. On the other hand, a smaller opening can block off the airflow, trapping ash and smoke inside your home.

7. Not Adding Draft Control

Ask any homeowner, and they’ll tell you that drafty fireplaces are a nightmare. Whether you’re dealing with cold air rushing in, smoke blowing back into the house, or winds causing rattling or whistling noises, draft issues can put you off from ever using your fireplace again. 

But what causes a draft? Usually, it is attributed to: 

  • Improper ventilation  
  • Problems with flue sizing 
  • Shorter chimneys 
  • Chimney or flue blockages 
  • Using seasoned firewood 

While chimney caps can help reduce drafts in your home, some are better than others. A few caps may even worsen the problem. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your home’s situation and gauge how much chimney protection you need. Based on the results, you can browse the market to find chimney caps known for their draft control properties.

8. Not Taking Adequate Safety Measures

Chimney cap installation requires some basic DIY skills. Even so, it should only be done by homeowners who know how to work on roofs safely.  

Always wear safety gloves when assembling or installing chimney caps. Since these caps are made of sheet metal, they may have very sharp edges that can cut deeply into your fingers and hands.  

Also, given how ladder falls cause more than 164,000 emergency room visits and 300 deaths annually, ladder safety should rank high on your list of priorities. In this regard, use a sturdy ladder to access your roof. Steer clear of ladders with missing steps or wobbly legs.

If you haven’t installed chimney caps before, we’d dissuade you from taking on the job yourself. Instead, consider hiring a reputable roof services company experienced in fireplace and chimney mechanics- like Ace Gutter Inc.

The Bottom Line 

There you go: eight common mistakes to avoid when selecting chimney caps. When installed correctly, the right caps can ward off critters, rain, and debris to make your chimneys safer. Keep these eight pitfalls in mind, and you’ll have no trouble whipping your chimneys back in shape again. 

Or, you can skip the hard work and give Ace Gutter Inc a call! We’ve got a collection of different chimney caps to protect your home and increase its curb appeal. To know more about our services, call us today!