What’s a Chimney Chase Cover and Why Do I Need It?
First: a word on what a chase cover is not: Chase covers are not for masonry chimneys, rather they are for the boxes (chases) that house a factory built chimney. This is the top of the box that runs up the side or through the middle of the house and above the roof.
Buying a chimney chase cover is important and necessary to the life and maintenance of your chimney and your home. A chimney chase cover is a metal covering designed to keep precipitation, debris and animals out. It is not an option – it is a necessity.
Fitting over the top, outer opening of your chimney chase, it is important to buy a cover that fits perfectly and is made to last. Chase covers are custom made to fit your chase perfectly. It’s up to you to decide what type of material to use.
Chase Cover Material Choices
When it comes to chimney chase covers, the materials used and quality of the design matters. Made from aluminum, stainless and galvanized steel and copper, each of these types has something different to offer.
- Galvanized steel, which is always the lowest cost, will rust quickly and need to be replaced very soon after installation so it is usually best not to invest in this choice.
- Aluminum will not rust, but is generally too soft for the purpose. It’s often not readily available in the sizes necessary either. As a practical matter it’s not a good choice.
- Stainless steel is the strongest of all your choices. It costs more than galvanized steel but will last virtually forever. Stainless steel is generally considered to be the sensible choice. It’s certainly the value proposition.
- Copper is truly the top quality choice, but the price tag will reflect it. Copper chase covers are generally so expensive that only very expensive houses warrant getting them, and the wealthy owners don’t like the price tag either.
Chase Cover Design/Spec Considerations
Ensuring that your chase cover is made to exact specifications is also very important. You should allow about ¼ to ½ inch all the way around, and the cover should be spaced off the chase by about 1/8 to ¼ of an inch. This ensures the cover isn’t too tight to install but protects the entire top of your chimney from small animals while leaving enough space to allow for a little ventilation. (A chase cover that’s too tight traps moisture which can rot away the house.)
You’ll also want cross-breaks in your cover, These look like a big X from corner to corner and keep the cover from catering and collecting water (which is in fact why most galvanized chase covers need to be replaced.) There’s also the side drop and collar to consider. The sides usually range between two and six inches, while three or four inches is pretty standard. While a top collar (around the hole that the chimney comes up through) isn’t actually required, it’s a nice feature of a good chase cover; they’re usually 2 inches tall.
Finally, the last thing you should consider when buying your chase cover is how you want it to look. Most home owners shop only for utility when it comes to these pieces, and stainless steel is usually acceptable. However, more and more companies are offering customization. After you have decided on the type, it may be possible to choose a specific color finish so that it matches or coordinates with your home. This can be done tastefully and make your home more attractive, but it will also add to the cost so be sure to ask about the additional cost upfront. Also, realize that painted surfaces need maintenance – you’ll have to repaint every now and again if you want color. You could even hire a chimney sweep to complete such upkeep for you and your family.
To recap, High’s recommendations are:
- All factory-built chimneys need a chase cover.
- Material best buy: stainless steel chase cover
- Sizing: allow about ¼ to ½ inch extra all the way around
- Cross breaks (“x” ridges) are essential
Remember that it is smarter and more cost effective to buy a quality piece now. When purchased wisely and installed correctly, a chimney cover will last for a very long time.
Are you in Maryland, D.C. or Northern Virginia and in need of a quality chimney chase cover installion? High’s Chimney has you… covered:)