At the highest peak of your home, your chimney cap (what covers the flue opening) and crown (what protects the top of the chimney) keep water, animals, and debris from entering your fireplace. If your cap or crown is missing, damaged, worn, improperly installed, or otherwise ineffective, your chances of incurring water damage and other problems significantly increase. So, it’s best to fix these problems as soon as you notice them.
Keep reading to learn how to spot the signs of cap and crown damage, how to prevent it, and the importance of scheduling professional chimney crown and/or cap repairs.
Common Signs of Chimney Crown & Cap Damage
Most crowns are formed with concrete. The most typical issue with concrete chimney crowns is cracking. Moisture settles in, and over time, freezing and thawing causes the concrete to crack, which allows more water in, and thus the cycle continues.
Some chimney crowns (and most chimney caps, dampers, flashing, and flue liners) are made of ferrous metals like steel and iron. Over time, exposure to rain, snow, humidity, and other natural elements causes rust development. Poor maintenance and old age also add to the probability of rusting. If not addressed, excessive rusting will eventually cause the component to fail.
One of the primary functions of your chimney’s cap and crown system is to keep water out. However, even when installed properly, your cap constantly endures the forces of the wind, which can loosen it over time. As it loosens, it may eventually blow off entirely or allow water to infiltrate where it is not supposed to. If you see water in your firebox or notice other signs of excessive saturation, you should schedule a professional inspection immediately.
If your chimney’s crown is damaged or your cap is missing or loose, you may notice concrete, pieces of brick, signs of animal activity, or other debris accumulating in your firebox.
Of course, if debris enters, water and snow can also. If the damage worsens, larger chunks of your crown could fall off the chimney. So, if you notice any debris around your chimney’s foundation or in your firebox, it’s important to schedule maintenance and repairs as soon as possible.
As a homeowner, there are several things you can do to maintain optimal performance of your fireplace and chimney system.
- If you have a cap, perform visual inspections after inclement weather to ensure the cap is still tightly installed. If you don’t feel comfortable performing self-inspections, hire a professional.
- If you don’t already have a full-coverage cap, install one to decrease the risk of leaks.
- Schedule an annual chimney sweep and inspection service.
- Burn dry, seasoned hardwood to minimize soot and creosote accumulation.
- Apply a water-based, breathable sealer to the concrete that forms your chimney crown.
Lastly, if you do need chimney cap or crown repairs, don’t wait. This type of problem doesn’t resolve itself. This damage will worsen over time and pose a safety and health risk to you and your family.
DIY Versus Professional Chimney Repairs
There are a lot of home maintenance and renovation processes that most handy homeowners can safely and effectively perform. However, in most cases, servicing chimney caps and crowns is not recommended except by qualified professionals. Anything performed above a couple of feet in the air is dangerous and can result in serious injury or worse.
Additionally, expert masonry companies have specialized training, skills, knowledge, tools, and equipment needed to perform the work correctly and safely.
Protect Your Chimney With Help From All Brick
If you need chimney crown or cap repairs, turn to All Brick. We’re a family-owned and -operated masonry company specializing in chimney repairs, cap installations, and brick restoration. We proudly serve homeowners throughout Macomb County, MI. Please contact us today to schedule your inspection.