The various claims made by chimney sweeps, cap manufacturers and fireplace retailers can often confuse the issue. In this article we’ll take an in-depth look at the different types of chimney caps and answer this burning question once and for all.

Metal Chimneys

Please check with the manufacturers and your chimney professional to determine if these devices will work on your metal chimney.

If you don’t have draft problems and just need a replacement cap, first try to find the same brand as the existing termination. If that fails, you can often use a cap from a similar brand, but make certain you confirm this with the store where you are purchasing. Another option is a "generic" metal chimney termination such as the WeatherShield at:

Note: Some metal chimneys are "air cooled" by venting that is on the top. If your chimney is of this type, be certain not to close off the venting slots on the top. A HOUSE FIRE COULD RESULT FROM CLOSING THESE VENTILATION SLOTS!
Special caps are available for these chimneys to assure proper cooling. Check the WeatherShield link above for information about a model (WSA TDW) with this feature.

Masonry Chimneys and Fireplaces

There are advantages and disadvantages of capping a masonry chimney or fireplace. Let’s list negative and positive points and then we’ll discuss the different models that are available.

Possible Disadvantages:
1. Draft Restriction – An improperly designed or installed chimney cap can possibly reduce the draft of a chimney.
2. Clogging of Screen in Cap – Some chimney caps have small screening which can become clogged with soot and creosote after heavy use. This will cause draft reductions and poor performance of your stove/fireplace.
3. Discoloration of chimney exterior – In some cases, creosote and tar can collect on the chimney cap and then run down the outside of the chimney structure. This can discolor the stucco or brick. This is usually a problem only with older woodstoves and/or the use of green (unseasoned) wood.
4. Replacement/Reinstallation – Chimney caps can blow off in high winds. This can destroy the cap or at the very least require another trip on top of the home to reinstall it.

Possible Advantages:
1. Keeps Animals, especially Raccoons and Birds, from setting up home in your chimney or fireplace.
2. Keeps Rain and moisture from building up inside chimney. This can help reduce the chimney smell that often invades homes in the warmer weather.
3. Sheds ice and rain from the chimney crown, which is the cement cover on the top of the chimney structure. This will extend the life of the crown and eliminate some causes of cracking of the flue tile.
4. Increase draft of chimney, especially in areas with constant wind.

Note about chimney sizes – The three most popular sizes for masonry chimneys are 8" x 8", 8" x 12" and 12" x 12". Many other stock sizes are available. Custom sizes and styles are also produced by many manufacturers.

Cap Types for Masonry Flues

Standard Cap with screen – Black or Stainless Steel Draft Increasing Caps Caps with integral Damper Mechanisms Custom Caps – Metal and Masonry

Standard Caps

Standard caps are made from a number of materials including steel, stainless steel, copper or aluminum. The most popular styles are stainless steel and black painted steel. Most models feature side screening which keeps most birds and small animals out of the chimney and also keeps larger sparks from existing the chimney.

These caps are mounted onto the chimney in various ways, the most popular being screws which are spaced around the base angle of the cap and tightened against the flue tile. If the chimney is unlined or the flue does not protrude far enough out the top, inside mounting models can be used. If neither of these methods work, manufacturers also provide mounting angles or other fasteners which can be lag bolted or cemented down to theta of the chimney structure.


Standard Stainless Cap

Draft Increasing Caps

If you have draft problems you can use "draft increasing" or vacuum chimney caps which are designed to use the wind to create a stronger updraft. Manufacturers of these caps include:

These are the same caps mentioned earlier in this article for use with metal chimneys. The manufacturers also make adapters which allow use on masonry chimneys. When considering a draft increasing cap for bout chimney, keep the following point in mind:

* Some draft increasing caps cut down on the effective cross sectional area of the chimney. This may have less importance if you have a stove hooked up to the fireplace, but might cause problems with an open fire. * Do not use mechanical caps which rely on spinning turbines or windvanes. The smoke and creosote from your stoves or fireplace will quickly gum up the workings of such caps.

Caps with integral Damper Mechanisms

Custom or Deluxe Caps
and many other sites on the web.

Electric Draft Increasing Caps