So small and seemingly inconsequential, chimney caps are more than just icing on a cake, performing a critical function. No more a merely decorative detail than the roof on a house, the chimney cap is what protects the chimney. Somehow, that often gets forgotten when we look up at neighboring chimneys and see their cute sloped caps.
Cute, But Functional
We tend to think of chimney caps as optional finishing touches rather than the essential players they are. Without chimney caps, anything and everything can enter the chimney, from spring’s showers to its sparrows. Despite their cuteness, chimney caps have to do a very serious job well or they ought to be replaced.
For reasons not generally associated with their attractiveness, chimney caps can just disappear, there one day and gone the next. Persistent and lucky squirrels can pry them off to make it easier for high wind to carry them away. So, while you are looking around the neighborhood, remember to look up at your own chimney from time to time, too.
If it is up there, that is great! Now the condition of the cap should be checked, preferably by someone who knows what they are looking at. Flammable creosote accumulations can leave chimney caps in a condition too dangerous to use. Its purpose is to protect your chimney, not ignite it accidentally and set your roof on fire.
The tip of the house can be the tip of an iceberg rather than the decorative icing it appears to be. Up there above the roofline, the chimney cap bears the brunt of the assault on a chimney by rain and snow. The marks of time on it should be no more surprising than its vanishing act so, whatever you do, do not applaud their appearance. Replace the cap and help your chimney sweep avoid having to pull a rabbit out of a stovepipe hat.