Installing a Fireplace: Chimney Cap or No?

Many homeowners wonder whether or not they should install a fireplace chimney cap. Here are a few things to consider about whether you should invest in a chimney cap or do without one.

What is a Chimney Cap?

A chimney cap is a small device that is installed on top of a chimney. It is usually a square piece of metal that has a match surrounding on the bottom of it. This sets on the top of the chimney and then is attached to it.

Keep Water Out

One of the main purposes of using a chimney cap is to keep water out. When it rains, a lot of water can get through an uncapped chimney. Water is a big problem for the inside surface of a chimney. Brick is a very porous substance and therefore, water can easily soak into the sides of the brick. It will also soak into the mortar in between the bricks. This can lead to the mortar coming out from between the bricks and deterioration of the brick itself.

Eventually, this can cause some pretty serious cracks in the liner of the chimney. This will present you with a potentially large problem that would cause huge repair bills. Excessive water can also get down into the house and cause problems with flooring as well. Therefore, a chimney cap can help significantly in avoiding water damage.

Animal Problems

Another common problem that many homeowners face is dealing with animals that come in the chimney. If the chimney is left open, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals can crawl down in it. In addition to that, birds will commonly get in chimneys and build nests. If a nest is built in a chimney, this can prevent airflow and cause smoke to come back into the house. It could also increase the risk of a fire if sparks were to get on the nest. This problem can be eliminated by simply using a chimney cap. The screen around the chimney cap should eliminate the possibility of animals getting in the chimney.

Fire Prevention

Chimney caps can also do their fair share to prevent fires. When you start a fire in your fireplace, it will often emit sparks and embers up into the chimney. If there is no chimney cap, the sparks are free to exit the chimney area and ignite with anything that they come in contact with. This could lead them to land on shingles or leaves on the roof and start a fire. By installing a chimney cap, you will be able to reduce the amount of sparks that come out of the chimney.


Chimney caps are typically very inexpensive compared to the repair costs that you might have if you did not install one. You can usually purchase one for less than $200 and it will prevent many problems in the future.


Ultimately, it makes a lot of sense to install a chimney cap. The benefits that it provides far outweigh the costs of having one installed.