The Best Chimney Caps for Rain of 2022 - Picks from Bob Vila

2022-06-16 07:22:32 By : Ms. Vivi Wei

By Tony Carrick | Published Feb 28, 2022 6:59 PM

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While a wood-burning fireplace may warm you on a chilly day, if its chimney lacks a quality protective cap, you’re leaving your hearth and home vulnerable to damage. A chimney cap primarily prevents rain and snow from getting into the chimney where it can eventually cause water damage. Chimney caps also help to keep out animals such as birds and rodents that may use the chimney as a nesting spot or as a means of accessing the home’s interior.

A chimney cap is a metal protective covering that installs on the chimney crown above the flue. The cap allows smoke from fires below to pass through while keeping the elements and potential animal intruders out. Chimney flues come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so finding the right chimney cap can be a bit challenging. This guide will discuss how to select the right one while reviewing some of the best chimney caps on the market.

Knowing the different types of chimney caps is key to choosing one that’s compatible with the home’s chimney. Ahead, learn about the different types of chimney caps and how they work.

Single-flue caps, per their name, are compatible with chimneys that service a single flue. This type of cap is typically square or round. Square caps fit around the flue and attach with screws, while round caps have a flange that slides into the flue.

A multi-flue chimney houses multiple flues for homes with more than one fireplace. This style of chimney requires a multi-flue chimney cap that is large enough to cover the flues. These sizable chimney caps mount to the crown of the chimney with fasteners or some type of adhesive.

Some flues require specialty chimney caps to help draw smoke up and out of the chimney or take the place of a damper (a small door inside a chimney that prevents warm or conditioned air from escaping the home when the fireplace is not in use).

Draft-increasing chimney caps are designed to improve the upward draft of the flue, helping to eliminate potential backdrafts that can push smoke back into the home through the hearth. This type of flue typically harnesses the wind moving across the roof to improve the flue’s updraft. However, some draft-increase caps use an electric fan instead of the wind to pull air from the hearth up through the chimney.

Flue stretchers may be employed when structures blocking the airflow around the flue opening create a downdraft that causes smoke to go back into the home. A stretcher extends the height of the flue beyond these obstacles, helping to improve the upward airflow.

Some chimney caps help reduce heat loss in older homes that don’t have dampers built into the flues. This type of cap has an integrated damper that opens or closes via remote control to help prevent heat loss from the chimney when the fireplace is not in use.

When selecting a chimney cap, it’s crucial to consider the cap’s construction as well as how it mounts to the chimney’s flue or crown. Ahead, learn more about these and other important attributes of chimney caps, plus info on how different types of chimneys affect cap choice.

There are two types of chimneys: masonry and prefab metal. Masonry chimneys have extended, non-extended, metal wall, and single-wall flues. Extended flues require a clamp-on or screw-on chimney cap, while non-extended flues can use either a slip-in or clamp-on/screw-on cap. Metal wall masonry chimneys are limited to bolt-on cap types, and single-wall designs must use a top-mounted cap.

Caps for prefab metal flues must match the wall type. Single-wall prefab metal chimneys must use a slip-in cap. Double- and triple-wall metal chimneys should use a cap that matches the wall thickness—either double or triple wall. These multilayered walls come in either air-insulated or solid-pack models.

Chimney caps come in top-mount and outside-mount designs. Top-mount chimney caps attach to the crown of the chimney. They are typically used with multiple flues but are also compatible with single-flue designs. Outside-mount chimney caps have a skirt that fits around the rim of the chimney. This type of cap is typically designed for single-flue systems.

Chimney caps come in a variety of materials, including galvanized steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and copper. Galvanized steel is the most affordable option but is also the least durable. The zinc coating that protects the steel will eventually wear away, exposing the steel below to water and air that will cause rust. Galvanized steel also has a utilitarian look that may detract from a home’s aesthetics.

Aluminum is also affordable but is typically flimsier than other materials, making it more susceptible to wind damage. Its shinier finish is more attractive than galvanized steel.

Stainless steel is more expensive than galvanized steel or aluminum, but it is rustproof and therefore lasts longer. It also has an attractive shiny finish.

Copper is extremely durable and adds to the aesthetics of the home; however, it’s significantly more expensive than other materials. Copper also requires routine maintenance to maintain its color.

Chimney caps have mesh screens that prevent animals from nesting inside the cap or entering the home via the chimney. These mesh screens come in different hole sizes, ranging from ⅝ inch to ¾ inch. Some building codes, including some parts of California and Oregon, require chimney caps to have a mesh size of ⅝ inch, which is small enough to stop sparks from passing through, helping to reduce the risk of wildfires. Homes with wooden roofing should also consider using a chimney cap with ⅝-inch mesh to prevent sparks from the fireplace from traveling through the flue and potentially igniting the roof.

Most chimney caps are designed to be easy to install. They are sized to work with standard flue sizes and typically include predrilled holes and hardware that make attaching the cap to the flue a simple process. Chimney cap installation typically only requires a simple cordless screwdriver.

The list below includes caps to suit a variety of chimney and flue types. All the caps selected are made from durable materials with designs that make them effective at keeping out rain and animals while being easy to install.

With its multiple size options and durable build, this outside-mount model from Master Flow offers an excellent way to cap a chimney. It’s available in four different common chimney sizes ranging from 7.5 inches by 7.5 inches to 11.5 inches by 11.5 inches. There are also two rectangular sizes that measure 9 inches by 13.75 inches and 11.5 inches by 18 inches.

The 18-gauge ⅝-inch mesh serves as a barrier that protects the chimney from animals while also helping to stop potentially harmful sparks from escaping. This painted galvanized cap also features a single-piece hood, which means there are no seams or gaps that can allow water in.

Get the Master Flow Galvanized Steel Chimney Cap at The Home Depot.

This chimney cap from Shelter is a great option for those looking to protect their open flue on a budget. Despite being more affordable than other chimney caps, this model features attractive painted galvanized construction. The outside mount design installs easily to square-shaped chimneys ranging in size from 7.5 by 7.5 inches to 9.5 by 9.5 inches. The cap is also available in rectangular sizes.

With its seamless design, the single-piece lid with scalloped corners keeps rain out. The mesh cover serves as an animal barrier and spark arrestor. It installs via pre-drilled holes and comes with all necessary hardware.

Get the Shelter Black Galvanized Steel Chimney Cap at The Home Depot.

Those who want to install an attractive chimney cap and never worry about replacing it should look into The Forever Cap’s chimney cap. Its stainless steel construction, which endures the elements better than galvanized steel or aluminum, won’t succumb to rust or corrosion.

The outside mount cap fits around square- or rectangular-shape flues. And, since The Forever Cap comes in 18 different sizes, it suits many fireplace types. A ⅝-inch oval hole mesh configuration keeps animals out of the cap and flue, and it also meets California’s strict spark arrester codes. The Forever Cap installs via eight predrilled holes, and screws are included.

Get The Forever Cap at The Home Depot or Walmart.

This top-mount chimney cap measures 41 inches long and 17 inches wide, making it ideal for chimneys with multiple flues. It consists of galvanized steel with an attractive matte black finish. A mesh cage surrounds the opening, preventing animals from entering while keeping sparks from leaving the flue. It’s fitted with 1¼-inch base flanges for mounting the cap to the crown of a masonry chimney, and tapping masonry screws are included for installation.

The top of the cap consists of one piece of metal, with no seams to allow water to enter. The lid is also removable for easy cleaning. The Big Top Multi-Flue Chimney cap is available in a variety of sizes, ranging in length from 17 inches to 56 inches.

Get the HY-C BigTop Chimney Cap at The Home Depot.

With an easy-to-install design, this vent cap from M & G DuraVent is a great option for those with triple-wall prefab metal chimneys. The cap fits around 8-inch-diameter chimney pipes, and its 15-inch-diameter lid prevents rain from entering the chimney. The cap’s screen keeps animals out while serving as an effective spark arrester.

Stainless steel construction makes this chimney cap rustproof. The triple-wall design creates a 6-inch buffer that prevents heat from transferring to its exterior. The removable screws on the lid make it easy to remove for cleaning.

Get the Simpson Duravent Chimney Cap on Amazon.

This simple cone-top chimney cap with a screen is well suited for single-wall metal chimneys. It consists of galvanized steel with a cone-shaped lid that keeps out snow and rain. A ¼-inch metal screen prevents birds and other animals from getting inside the chimney.

This chimney cap comes in five size options, ranging from 7 inches in diameter to 16 inches in diameter. The only caveat is that the chimney cap does not have predrilled holes nor does it include mounting hardware; therefore, it requires the DIYer to drill holes and install fasteners to secure the cap to the chimney.

Get the Cone Top Chimney Cap with Screen on Amazon.

Flues that are flush to the chimney are recessed inside, requiring a flue cap that mounts to the crown of the chimney, such as this model from Vevor. Its stainless steel construction means there’s never a chance of the vent rusting or corroding. With a broad array of sizes that range from 8 inches by 8 inches to 17 inches by 29 inches, this flue cap can fit a wide variety of chimneys.

It features a large hood that prevents rain from getting inside the chimney with heavy-duty mesh for blocking animals. The cap attaches to the chimney via a flange and includes all the necessary installation hardware, but assembly is required before the cap can be installed.

Get the Vevor Chimney Cap on Amazon or Vevor.

With its many size options, durable construction, and attractive finish, the Master Flow Galvanized Fixed Chimney Cap is a worthy choice for homes with masonry flues. Those with metal pipe chimneys should consider the Simpson Duravent Triple-Wall Chimney Cap, with its durable stainless steel construction and a thick wall that prevents heat from transferring to the outside of it.

In reviewing 20 different brands of chimney caps for this guide, we considered a variety of criteria. A chimney cap should be able to endure harsh weather as well as the smoke and soot that passes through it, so we sought out durably constructed models. Our selections include mainly painted galvanized steel, stainless steel, and copper options. Chimneys can vary significantly in size, so we went with models that were compatible with as many chimneys as possible by offering numerous size options. There are many different chimney types as well, so our lineup includes a wide range of chimney caps to suit different style flues.

Proper measuring for a chimney cap depends on the type of flue to be covered.

If you’re wondering how to install a chimney cap or how a chimney cap differs from a chimney cover, read on for answers to these and other common questions.

A chimney should function fine without a cap, but having one will prevent rain, snow, and other material from entering the chimney and potentially causing damage.

Most chimney caps come with predrilled holes and screws. Once the cap is in place, use a power drill or socket wrench to drive the screws into the masonry or metal. The screws should be self-tapping, so they don’t require you to drill a pilot hole into the chimney first.

A chimney cap should last between 3 and 25 years or more depending on the material. Materials such as stainless steel and copper will last longer than galvanized steel, which will eventually rust.

A chimney cap provides an elevated cover over the chimney opening with a mesh side that allows smoke to pass through while protecting the opening from rain and animals. A chimney cover goes over the entire chimney opening; its metal sheeting has a built-in cap to allow smoke to escape while protecting the opening from rain.

The chimney crown is the top of the chimney. It is typically sloped away from the chimney flue opening to direct water away and is usually constructed of cement and mortar. A chimney cap is installed either on the crown or the flue that extends above the crown to keep water and animals out of the flue.

Purchase chimney crown sealer, which is similar in consistency to paint and can be applied to the crown with a brush. The sealer will fill any holes or cracks that have formed in the crown, helping to prevent water from finding its way to the chimney.

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