Trees, hills or tall buildings near your home can cause downdraft. One of the least expensive things you can do to protect your chimney and your home is to install a chimney cap. While not all chimney caps are designed to help with downdraft, properly sized and installed caps can help.
Crown-mounted chimney caps mount directly to your chimney's crown, or the brick portion of the chimney, with masonry screws. Crown-mounted chimney caps can sometimes cover multiple flues with a single cap. This mounting style is also appropriate when no flue tile extends from the crown of the chimney.
Single flue mounted chimney caps are appropriate when there is clay tile protruding from the crown of the chimney. In a single flue mount, the chimney cap is fastened to the flue tile with friction screws.
All chimney caps have openings to let the smoke from your fireplace out. However, depending on where you live, you will have to pay special attention to this opening because there are codes dictating how large the opening should be. In places like California, where wildfires are possible, code requires the opening to be 5/8 inch, but ¾-inch openings are code in many other parts of the country. Sometimes these openings are simply holes in the chimney caps, but other times the openings are covered with mesh, which is helpful for keeping animals out of your chimney.
Types of Chimney Caps
Chimney caps come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but most are made out of steel (either galvanized or stainless) or copper.
Wind-directional chimney caps swivel to the direction of the wind, which is especially helpful in preventing downdraft. With this type of chimney cap, the wind moves past the hood on the cap to create a vacuum inside the flue.
Vacuum chimney caps come with a round cap on the top. This is a simple type of chimney cap that isn't made to prevent downdraft but can help simply because it covers the flue. Vacuum caps are available for round pipes and square flue tiles.
Universal chimney caps and designed to replace already existing chimney caps. They are designed to install onto almost any type of chimney and do not necessarily prevent downdraft.
Cone top chimney caps have a cone-shaped top, which can help prevent downdraft but is especially effective at keeping rain out of your chimney.
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