Updated: November 2017

Chimney Cap Reviews:

About a year ago we noticed that water was coming down our chimney when it was raining and settling at the bottom. It wasn't much, but it was enough to notice during the stronger storms. Then, six months ago we heard some birds in the chimney. The little "tweets" and "chirps" would come out of the chimney and we could hear the sounds in our family room. I was afraid to open up the damper for fear that the birds or a huge swell of water might fall into our family room. I called a chimney sweep since the chimney had never been cleaned during out 10 years of owning the house and thought this would be a good time. We hadn't actually used the chimney for years and so that is probably why the birds were able to make a cozy nest with no fear of a fire intruding on them. The chimney sweep came out to our house and gently opened up the damper to reveal what was inside - a birds nets. He told us we needed to put a chimney cap at the top once he had a chance to clean out the chimney.
chimney cap

Choosing a Chimney Cap - At the top of your chimney enclosure there is an opening and that is where the chimney cap goes. Not every chimney is built with one of these devices, but after our experience I'm not sure why all builders don't have them put on. The cap is essentially a protective covering on the top of the chimney that will keep out birds, rain, embers, and even other animals. They also do a good job of keeping out rain and wind. The cap attaches to the chimney enclosure with screws and has a wire/mesh siding with a solid metal top. This way the only things that can get in are small insects (highly unlikely to cause any problems) and a bit of moisture if it's coming in sideways. Otherwise, the rain just bounces off the top and falls to the side and birds can't get inside to build a nest. Even if you don't have bird issues, a chimney cap is a good idea to prevent that from occuring. Here are some features to consider or look for:

Materials - Many are made from stainless steel, but you will also find copper and galvanized steel.
Types - Single Flue, Multi-Flue, and Band-Around.
Shapes - Rectangle, Square, and Round.
Price - Most are between $50 to $100 (stainless steel) and copper is $250. The caps for air-insulated chimneys are closer to $200.

Some of the top manufacturers of chimney caps are Simpson, General Electric, Gelco, Lindemann, and Copperfield. The single flue chimney caps are the most common as many homeowners have a rectangular or square chimney. A band around chimney cap is less common, but it protects the entire chimney, not just the enclosure. Look for a chimney cap that secures tightly to the enclosure or chimney bricks. Screws need to go into the materials or else there is a chance that a strong wind storm or pesky animals could dislodge the cap. We bought a stainless steel cap but copper looks really nice as well. Also, keep in mind that not all chimney caps fit standard chimneys. In fact, our chimney enclosure was slightly irregular in size and the chimney sweep guy had to go back to the store to buy a different cap as the ones he carries in his van didn't fit our chimney. Get the measurements of the chimney enclosure space so that in the future you know what size chimney cap you might need. Chimney caps are also available from home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot. You can browse the best selling chimney caps online here.

Best Chimney Caps:

BEST - An excellent product is the HomeSaver Pro Stainless Steel Chimney Cap by Copperfield. This chimney cap measures 13 X 13 and is a square chimney cap. Know the measurements of your enclosure before purchasing as it may not fit all chimney. The stainless steel material is pretty much rust resistant and should hold up well. The Gelco Copper Chimney Cap is more expensive, but looks great on most chimneys. It will change colors slightly as it becomes weathered, but it's effectiveness will not change. Comes with copper plated stainless steel screws that insure a secure fit. Lowe's carries the CMI Flameguard Black Chimney Cap Spark Arrestor which keeps rain and debris from building up inside the chimney. It wil fit any flue from 6" x 9" up to 14" x 22". There are no tools needed for installation and the guy at the store says it will take no more than 5 minutes. See our installation section below for more details on what is required.

Chimney Cap Installation:

The hard part is actually getting up to your chimney and being able to measure the opening and then install the chimney cap without falling off your roof. We have provided a video below so you can see what to do if you can reach your chimney enclosure.

The actual installation process of the cap can be seen on this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVKljomx9Q4&feature=relmfu). It's just an example, as all caps have slightly different fits and screw installations. Our chimney happens to be 10 feet above the roof line and it extends up along the side of the house. It's in a precarious situation for the average homeowner to even consider a DIY project on the cap. You need to have a ladder that gets you up to the roof and then have another ladder on the roof that goes up against the side of the chimney and climb up even higher to get to the enclosure. I knew right away that the installation would need to be done by a professional and that is why I hired the chimney sweep. They are used to those kinds of heights and situations. The entire project cost me about $175 - $100 for the chimney sweep service and $75 for the chimney cap.