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A chimney cap is a cover for the top of your chimney. It is made of a mesh grate, which is designed to keep debris, moisture, and pests from entering your home through the chimney. A properly installed chimney cap offers numerous benefits. In addition to helping keep unwanted pests from entering your home, it ensures your chimney and fireplace remain safe. The main question isn't whether to install a chimney cap; it's whether to do it yourself or hire a professional. In this post, we look at the pros and cons of each option.
DIY Chimney Cap Installation: Pros and Cons
There are upsides and downsides to installing your chimney cap on your own. In the pros column sits the fact that cap installation is relatively simple. Often it is as easy as inserting the flue tabs into the chimney and tightening the screws on the outside of the cap base, though it should be noted it is not always quite so easy. It is also cheaper to do it yourself, as most professionals charge around $175 for the entire process. If you do it yourself, you spend around $75 for the chimney cap and that's that.
In the cons column, there are a few more points. For one, if you do not have any experience with chimney caps, you may purchase the wrong type of cap or install it incorrectly. There is also no guarantee that you have the proper tools or know the safest way to put the cap on. A professional has all of the right tools and knows the safest way to go about the procedure. There is also a chance that DIY installation will void the warranty of the cap. Voiding the warranty means that the manufacturer will not replace the cap if something goes wrong later.
Things to Avoid When Installing a Chimney Cap
The whole point of a chimney cap is to keep debris, moisture, and pests from entering your chimney or home. If you do decide to install the cap yourself, there are some common issues you should be aware of to help you avoid them.
A mistake that many homeowners make is choosing a cap made of the wrong material. An incorrect chimney cap leads to safety issues, possibly causing chimney fires, enhanced draft, and letting in the elements. Gas log fireplaces should not be combined with galvanized chimney caps, as putting the two together causes corrosive exhaust and rust damage. Copper and stainless steel caps are more expensive, but come with fewer issues than galvanized ones. They also require less maintenance.
The wrong chimney cap can also make drafts worse. Although some caps have mechanisms designed to prevent or reduce drafts, others contribute to the problem. Evaluate the drafting in your home before deciding on the type of cap you install. In addition, you need to check whether your chimney has a damper mechanism. If not, purchase a cap that includes an integrated damper mechanism.
Another common mistake people make when putting on a chimney cap is buying one that does not fit. Choosing a cap that fits your flue exactly may be the most important factor. Buying the wrong sized cap not only adds time to the whole process, since you have to return and replace, but it may actually damage your chimney if you try to install it before realizing it's the wrong size.
If you did get the size right on the first try, make sure that the chimney cap is fully secured once installed. An unsecured cap can let in everything you're trying to keep out or fly off during a storm, possibly damaging your or a neighbor's property.
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Chimney Cap?
The cost for professional installation depends on typical labor costs in your area as well as the type of professional you choose to install your chimney cap.
- A handyman will typically charge between $50 and $100
- A chimney sweep or pest control company will likely charge between $100 and $150
- A fireplace company will usually charge between $100 and $200
- Most copper caps range from around $500 to around $1,500
- Stainless steel caps can go as high as $500 for customized models, but the $200 to $300 range is more common
- Galvanized steel chimney caps start as low as $50 but average between $150 and $300
If you choose to install the cap yourself, your only cost is the cap itself. This varies based on the type of cap and the material.
Installing a chimney cap is a pretty simple job that, truthfully, does not require a whole lot of work. Unless you're afraid of heights or worry about navigating your roof, just about anyone can do it. The average homeowner should not have any issues.
That being said, a professional with knowledge and experience is always able to do the job more quickly and probably better. A professional is especially recommended if you find that your flue requires repairs or maintenance. Or, you simply feel your time is worth the extra $100 you'll pay for someone else to do it.