On this page:
- What’s Involved with Installing a Chimney Cap?
- Do I Need a Chimney Cap?
- Factors Affecting Cost
- Things to Consider
- Before You Begin
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
Installing a chimney cap is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to prevent water, debris, unwanted drafts, and small animals getting into your fireplace and your house.
A chimney cap is a metal bonnet that fits over the chimney flue. It consists of a solid metal barrier attached to a metal mesh cage. The mesh part of the chimney cap keeps animals, birds, leaves and other debris out of the chimney while allowing combustion gases to escape. The solid barrier sits directly over the flue and acts like a roof, preventing snow and water from getting into the chimney. The cap attaches directly to the flue or to the masonry or brick edging around the chimney opening.
The Uniform Building Code does not require chimney caps, but they are a requirement in some communities. Whether or not your community is one of those that requires them, there are several good reasons for installing a cap on your chimney.
What’s Involved with Installing a Chimney Cap?
Pricing the Cap
A basic chimney cap made from galvanized steel costs less than $30. Caps made from different materials and with features such as spark arresting screens and larger bases that can fit chimneys with more than one flue cost more, but you shouldn’t have to pay more than $200 for one that fits your chimney and does the job.
Cost of Installation
In most cases, installation of the cap involves little more than securing it to the chimney or the chimney liner and sealing the base with caulk. The entire procedure usually doesn’t take longer than about 2 or 3 hours. If your chimney isn’t too high, and the roof not too steep, the cost of installation shouldn’t exceed about $150.
Who Should I Call?
If a worker can walk on your roof unaided by anything other than basic safety requirements -- such as rubber-soled shoes -- and can easily reach the chimney opening, you can save money by having a handyman install your chimney cap. If the roof is steep or tiled, however, and harnesses, roof jacks, scaffolding or high ladders are required for safety, it’s better to call a roofing specialist who has all the necessary equipment and knows how to use it, and that will cost a bit more. You’ll also need a roofing specialist -- or a chimney specialist -- to make repairs to the chimney if any are needed before you can install the cap.
Do I Need a Chimney Cap?
Keep Your Chimney Dry
Rainwater can damage chimneys. It hastens corrosion of a metal liner, which can greatly shorten its service life. If your chimney doesn’t have a liner, water can seep through cracks in the brick or masonry flue and damage the walls around the chimney as well as the framing. A chimney cap keeps the water out.
Keep Pests Away
Rats, birds and other small animals often seek shelter in chimneys, and their nests can block airflow and prevent your fire from burning efficiently. Rats and squirrels are especially resourceful and may use the chimney to access your living room and kitchen. The mesh barrier on a chimney cap is designed to deny these pests access to your chimney and your house.
If you feel cold on a windy day, it may be because your chimney has a downdraft. A chimney cap helps regulate this downdraft, and that can make it easier to start a fire. On the other hand, you may notice that your fire burns inefficiently and goes out easily because the flue opening is too wide. A chimney cap can also help correct this problem by creating a smaller opening that actually improves the updraft when a fire is burning.
Protect Surrounding Vegetation from Fires
The embers from your fire can remain hot long after they leave your chimney, and if any glowing embers land on parched vegetation, a fire could result. The wire mesh on chimney caps acts as a spark arrestor that controls the release of hot embers. This is one reason why some communities require caps on chimneys.
Factors Affecting Cost
Types of Chimney Caps
Chimney caps can be made of galvanized steel (which is the least expensive material), stainless steel, aluminum, or copper (which is the most expensive and decorative). Moreover, chimney caps can be small enough to fit over a single flue or large enough to cover multiple flues, and large caps cost more than small ones. Some chimney caps include an active turbine system to control downdraft and improve airflow, while others have close mesh for better spark control. Both features add to the cost of the cap.
Working from a tall ladder or on a steep roof is dangerous, and it often requires special equipment. If the installers don’t have this equipment, they have to rent it; either way, they’ll pass the cost to you in the form of a surcharge. In many cases, it’s possible to screw the cap directly to the chimney liner, but in some cases, the cap may have to be anchored to the brick or set in fresh concrete, and that also adds to the installation cost. When the installers inspect the chimney, they may discover that it’s cracked or unstable, and that it needs repair. That will also lead to extra charges.
Things to Consider
Difficulty of Installation
In most cases, installing a chimney cap is a simple project that doesn’t involve any modifications to the chimney or the fireplace. The cap, which must be sized to fit snugly onto the chimney, can either be screwed to the chimney liner -- which is usually metal -- or it can be anchored to the chimney edging. After securing the chimney cap, the installer then seals the edges with silicone sealant to ensure the proper flow of combustion gases and keep water out of your chimney.
The height of the chimney is a factor that affects cost; high chimneys that require ladders or scaffolding are more expensive to retrofit than low ones. You should also expect to pay more if your roof is steep and installers need roof jacks or scaffolding to work safely. Other accessibility issues, such as roof tiles, excessive vegetation around the house and seasonal hazards, such as ice, also affect the labor costs.
Before You Begin
Know What’s Involved
Not all chimney cap installations are standard ones. Both the type of cap you choose and the difficulty involved with installing it can affect your final cost. Moreover, you may have to pay for some chimney repair before you can install a cap. Your pro may not know the scope of the job before he gets on the roof to take a look, so be sure to find out if any repairs or extra work are involved.
Before you call anyone, go on your roof -- if it’s safe to do so -- and take a few measurements. You need to know the dimensions of the chimney perimeter, as well as those of the flues or chimney liner. If your chimney has multiple flues, you need to know how many there are. You also need to know whether the chimney has rectangular, oval or circular flues or liners. That information will help you choose the right cap for your chimney.
|$50 - $250||$120 - $550||$450 - $1,200|
If you choose a galvanized steel cap and are able to install it yourself, you only need to pay for the cap, screws and silicone sealant. If you can’t do the work yourself, but the job isn’t too difficult, add a nominal installation fee. If the task requires special equipment, techniques or repairs to your chimney, the costs go up accordingly.
DIY Installation: $50 - $250
- • Materials: The main cost factor is the price of the chimney cap itself, which can vary from $30 for a small basic galvanized steel one to $250 or more for a large decorative copper one.
- • Labor Costs: Because you’re doing the work yourself, you won’t have any labor expenses.
Basic Professional Installation: $120 - $550
- • Materials: The materials costs for a basic installation is the same as for a DIY one. They can vary from $50 to $250.
- • Labor Costs: Besides the cost of the cap, factor in the labor costs for a 2- to 3-hour job. These costs depend on location and availability of labor and should fall in a range from $70 to $300.
Professional Installation with Complications: $450 - $1,200
- • Materials: The materials for a complicated installation may include mortar, bricks and other repair materials as well as a custom cap. These materials could cost from $250 to $500.
- • Labor Costs: Your chimney may require a small amount of repair, or it may have to be virtually rebuilt before you can install a cap. Depending on local rates, labor could cost between $200 and $700.
Level of Difficulty
If a chimney has a metal liner to which you can screw the cap, the roof is safe and the chimney isn’t too high, it’s entirely possible for a homeowner to install a chimney cap and save the installation costs. Installing a cap in fresh concrete or anchoring one to a brick or masonry chimney, however, is a job best left to pros, especially if there are any factors that make working on the roof hazardous.
Find a Chimney Cap Installation Pro
If you’re ready to install a chimney cap or if your chimney needs repair but you don’t want to do the job yourself, get in touch with a qualified Chimney Cap Installation Pro in your area to get the project underway. Even though this is a relatively small job, don’t hesitate to get several estimates so you can choose the pro who is the best fit for the job.