Posts tagged with "Chimney Crown"

Chimney Caps and Chimney Crowns: Chimney Masonry Maintenance 101

Chimney Caps & Chimney Crowns: Essential to Masonry Chimney Maintenance

Proper maintenance of masonry chimneys extends past the brick work. Chimney caps and chimney crowns are both important for the longevity of your masonry and the safety of your home. Both caps and crowns help protect your masonry chimney interior and flue from precipitation, and the damage freeze and thaw cycles cause.

Chimney Crown with Flue Caps

Chimney with crown and 2 capped flues

Chimney Crowns

The chimney crown is placed atop the masonry chimney as a form of protection against the weather. As crowns withstand a lot of abuse, they need to be made out of a solid material; most commonly, chimney crowns are made of poured concrete and free from cracks and crumbling.

As its primary purpose is to protect your chimney, it should overhang the masonry by at least 2 inches. The top should gently slope away from the chimney opening, encouraging precipitation to run away from the chimney interior. The overhang prevents this water from running down the masonry, and a slight ridge build into the underside of the masonry further encourages the water to drip onto the roof rather than reach the masonry.

Chimney Caps

Copper Chimney Cap

Jim and a shiny new copper chimney cap

Chimney crowns do not cover the chimney interior. Chimney caps serve this purpose. Generally made of metal, they are installed just inside the chimney opening and extend well above the chimney to allow proper venting and draft. They prevent water from falling directly into your chimney, and also help keep out birds and small animals attracted to the warmth.

While most chimney caps are relatively simple, they are not always interchangeable. Chimney caps can affect your chimneys draft and certain styles work better than others with different vent sources.

For example, wood burning fireplaces or fireplace inserts produce creosote and other combustible solids. Not only will these accumulate in your flue, they will also build up your chimney cap. This is specifically a problem if your chimney cap has a protective mesh. As it accumulates, it causes draft problems that can make your fireplace unpleasant and unsafe.

Top Sealing Dampers

Top Sealing Damper

Up close and personal with a top sealing damper

In addition to simple cap styles, you have the option of added functionality. Top sealing dampers, otherwise known as “Top Dampers”, serve the function of both cap and damper. They affix to the top of your chimney much like any other cap, but can be opened and closed to allow venting. These easy to use top sealing dampers are connected to a switch near the fireplace, and with a quick pull of a lever the damper opens and closes. They’re constructed to prevent small animals from entering the chimney when open while shedding most rain, and to seal tight against water and air when closed.

While these top sealing dampers are of particular interest in older homes where the original damper is missing or broken, they can be of great benefit to most homes. They increase energy efficiency by preventing heat loss and down drafts. Relatively simple to install, most homeowners are surprised by how much top sealing dampers can save them in energy costs.

Chimney caps and crowns are an important component of masonry chimney maintenance. If you have any questions about chimney caps, crowns, or top sealing dampers, contact a trusted chimney professional. And of course, if you’re in the market for a trusty chimney professional in the Washington D.C. area, we’d love to work with you to ensure your chimney is safe and functional.

All About Chimney Crowns

What’s a Chimney Crown Anyway?

Your chimney crown protects your chimney from water damage entering through small cracks. Some experts believe that less than one percent of all chimneys are properly crowned. Most bricklayers simply finish off the chimney with brick mortar – this is probably due to expediency or lack of education. In either case, this ultimately leads to severe damage, especially for those who live in parts of the United States where freezing is an issue.

Why Are Chimney Crowns Important?

Without a proper chimney crown- or if you have a cracked one, rain water seeps into the bricks and mortar of your chimney structure. In the winter this water constantly freezes and thaws. When water freezes, it expands by about ten percent turning small cracks into large cracks and causing “spaulling” (peeling) of the bricks, and deterioration of the mortar.

Chimney-Crown-Finished

Even minute amounts of water can result in brick flaking, mortar deterioration, and unsightly salt deposits on your chimney. Without a good crown that has been sealed your chimney does not have any protection. Eventually, the bricks and mortar break up enough that the chimney is no longer structurally sound.

How To Tell If Your Chimney Crown Is Properly Built

A properly built chimney crown has a slope to protect your chimney from water damage. The crown will slope from the flue liner at a certain distance from and past the walls in order to protect the chimney. An overhang will keep water from dripping off of the chimney crown and onto the face of your chimney.

If your crown is not built like this, as important as chimney waterproofing is to everyone, it’s even more important to you! While checking your crown, be sure your bricks are not soaking up water, be sure your flashing at the roof-line is sealed, and that you have a chimney cover!

Seal That Crown!

While your entire chimney needs to be protected, your crown is particularly vulnerable. For protection from freezing and thawing, the crown must be sealed with a durable sealer, such as Crown Coat by Saver Systems or Flexible Crown by WeatherTite Industries.

Call your chimney sweep to have your chimney inspected for water damage. What might appear to be minuscule damage may only require one more season of wet weather to ruin your chimney. Modern crown materials allow for quick, affordable repairs while your cracks are still only small cracks. It is a hard fact that paying for a new crown and set of chimney caps and seal now is much less expensive or messy than paying for a whole new chimney later!