The Benefits of Foundation Vent Covers

A man with a yellow drill installing a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION foundation vent screen over a foundation vent on a brick wall

The Benefits of Foundation Vent Covers

A hole in a home any bigger than the diameter of a nickel is going to cause problems. Animals will exploit that hole for shelter and warmth, and as they come and go, the hole can get bigger and bigger, leading to even larger animals getting in.

A foundation vent is a vulnerable spot for exactly this kind of hole and, as a result, critters often creep into a house’s crawl space through a foundation vent to wreak havoc. Foundation vent covers help to nip this issue in the bud, excluding animals from sneaking into the vent in the first place.

But how do these covers work? What are they made from? And how well do they work, anyway?

In this guide, we’ll examine those questions and more. By the time you’re finished here, you’ll understand all the animal-related issues to which a foundation vent is prone, and how putting on one of these vent covers now will save you from a lot of trouble in the long run.

What Are Foundation Vents?

An uncovered foundation vent on the side of a home showing an exposed crawl space

Foundation vents often come built-in with homes that have crawl spaces. These crawl spaces usually contain some of the home’s HVAC ductwork, plumbing pipes, or both for easy access in case repairs need to be made.

If left unventilated, the air in a crawl space will grow stagnant. Still air results in heating and cooling problems in the home. It also results in moisture accumulation, which in turn causes mold and mildew to grow in the crawl space and spread into the rest of the house.

Foundation vents solve these issues by allowing outside air to filter through. These vents are usually installed on opposite ends of the crawl space, letting the air pass in through one side and out through the other, promoting good circulation to keep mold at bay.

Do Foundation Vents Work?

Can foundation vents aid with air circulation? Absolutely.

But while they solve the ventilation issue, foundation vents lead to another problem: they can allow animals in. Most foundation vents come standard with a cheap, aluminum cover that doesn’t pose much of a challenge to even small critters.

Even if one curious mouse takes the time to squeeze through a cheap, stock foundation vent cover, that mouse will leave behind a big enough hole for a squirrel to fit through, which will leave enough space for a raccoon to invade, and suddenly your crawl space is host to an entire zoo.

Problems Posed by Animals in a Crawl Space

A mouse squeezing into a hole in a wooden wall that has four insulated electrical wires protruding from it

If animals do manage to get into a crawl space through a foundation vent, most homeowners don’t know about them until after they’ve been there for weeks (or even months). Critters can cause a lot of damage during that time.

Most homeowners are tipped off to the presence of an animal in a crawl space by smell — either the smell of an animal carcass or the smell of an especially potent animal like a skunk. Animals also leave feces behind, which results in its own issues, aside from the smell.

Bat droppings can lead to histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that is transmitted through the air. Waste from raccoons can contain roundworm eggs that can cause heart, eye, and brain damage in humans. Squirrel droppings can carry salmonella. If an animal gets into your home and leaves excrement behind, it could cause serious health problems.

Critters in a crawl space might track in other, smaller critters with them, too. Raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and other common wildlife nuisances can bring in fleas, lice, and ticks that will have no problem invading the rest of your home.

Finally, these invasive critters can cause structural damage. Mice or rats can chew through wires, possibly resulting in electrical fires. Animals might also claw through and nest inside of your insulation. They may even cause damage to the floor or the HVAC system, giving them access to the rest of the home.

Foundation Vent Covers

Three HY-GUARD EXCLUSION foundation vent screens — one black, one gray, and one white — stagged on each other and staggered against a white background

Foundation vent covers go a long way to stopping these issues before they even start by providing a sturdy barrier to exclude wildlife. There are plenty of great brands out there that make foundation vent covers, but at HY-C, we manufacture both the Foundation Vent Screen and the XL Foundation Vent Screen under our HY-GUARD EXCLUSION brand.

These covers are made from galvanized steel with 18-gauge, ⅜” mesh openings that still allow air to circulate while preventing animals from getting in. The screens come with eight pre-drilled ¼” holes around the edges, allowing them to be bolted directly onto a home over a foundation vent. They offer much stronger protection than the stock aluminum covers.

Do HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Foundation Vent Covers Fit All Houses?

These covers certainly don’t fit every house; they can’t possibly account for every size of every foundation vent. They are, however, crafted to match common foundation vent sizes. By our estimates, one of our two sizes will fit a foundation vent 90% to 95% of the time.

The original Foundation Vent Screen measures 10.5” x 18.5”, while the XL Foundation Vent Screen measures 12.25” x 19.5”. One of these two vents will fit most use cases.

What Kind of Animals Do HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Foundation Vent Covers Keep Out?

It would probably be quicker to list the kinds of animals these vent covers can’t exclude; it would be virtually impossible for an adult human to rip one off, let alone a small critter. They’re capable of excluding common small and medium animals from homes, including:

  • Snakes
  • Squirrels
  • Bats
  • Raccoons
  • Opossums
  • Mice
  • Rats

Are There Any Limitations to HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Foundation Vent Covers?

While these covers are sturdy, easy to install, and effective at preventing wildlife from invading a crawl space, there are two notable caveats to them.

For one, they tend to be more expensive than similar products on the market, sometimes by more than double. When it comes to these kinds of covers, you essentially get what you pay for; if you want to spend less up front, you may or may not have to replace the cover more quickly due to damage. HY-GUARD EXCLUSION vents may cost more, but they’ll almost certainly last longer.

Another caveat is that, on their own, these vents don’t provide protection against stink bugs, bees, wasps, or other insects. The ⅜” mesh openings provide room for bugs to squeeze in. There is a simple solution, though — just attach some bug screen to your foundation vent cover when you install it.

Should You Get Foundation Vent Covers?

The last thing you want as a homeowner is an animal in your crawl space or any of the problems that come with it. Smells, feces, diseases, and structural damage are enough to keep new and veteran homeowners alike up at night.

Foundation vent covers go a long way to alleviating — or even eliminating — these problems altogether. Not all homes have foundation vents on them, but if yours does, and they’re currently uncovered, foundation vent covers may be right for you.

If you do want to cover your foundation vents, you have plenty of options available. And, if you’re interested in giving HY-GUARD EXCLUSION a try, we’ll be more than happy to help you find a store that sells our covers. We’re confident that they’re sturdy, versatile, and will keep the critters out, providing you with some long-term peace of mind.

But what about the rest of your home? There are plenty of other vulnerable spots that wildlife can squeeze into — a chimney, for instance. If you have a fireplace and want to keep it nuisance-free, our guide to keeping wildlife out of chimneys is a great place to start.

How to Keep Wildlife Out of Your Chimney CTA
Aluminum chimney cap covers of different sizes standing up and leaning against each other on a factory floor

What Size Chimney Cap Do You Need?

Finding the right sized chimney cap can be challenging. There are so many questions to consider: how do you measure your chimney flue? Are single-flue and multi-flue chimney caps sized differently? What are the standard sizes, and what if your chimney doesn’t fit them?

Trust us, we know it’s confusing. We manufacture chimney caps at HY-C, and we have to make multiple styles in dozens of sizes in order to help cover as many chimneys as we can. It’s a lot to keep straight — and in this guide, we’re going to simplify the process for you.

By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to narrow your choices down to figure out exactly what type of chimney cap you need. You’ll also know what sizes of chimney caps are available in that type, and how to measure your chimney or flue to ensure the perfect fit.

Types of Chimney Caps

There are several styles of chimney caps made from a variety of different materials. From a sizing perspective, though, it’s helpful to group chimney caps into three simple categories:

  • Single-flue
  • Multi-flue
  • Band-around-brick

Single-flue chimney caps can either be rectangular, square, or round. These caps attach directly to a chimney’s flue tile via four bolts. If your chimney only has one flue, one of these caps is your best bet.

A black galvanized single-flue chimney cap installed on a chimney flue against a white background
A single-flue chimney cap installed on a chimney flue

Multi-flue chimney caps are either square or rectangular. Instead of attaching to the chimney’s flue tile, a multi-flue cap is bolted directly onto the chimney’s crown. If your chimney has two or more flues, you can either attach a single-flue cap to each flue, or you can cover all your flues at once with a multi-flue cap.

A black galvanized multi-flue chimney cap installed on a chimney crown with two flues against a background of foliage
A multi-flue chimney cap installed on a chimney crown

Band-around-brick chimney caps get their name because they clamp onto a chimney’s top row of brick by way of a metal band. These square or rectangular caps are adjustable by tightening or loosening the four bolts in each corner (for a total of 16 bolts per cap). Band-around-brick caps are usually used to cover a single chimney flue; they’re typically not big enough to cover two or more flues (unless you order a custom-sized band-around-brick cap).

An aluminum band-around-brick chimney cap installed on a square chimney against a white background
A band-around-brick chimney cap installed on the top row of a chimney’s brick

Consider these three categories and determine which one is best suited to your chimney flue and/or crown configuration. Once you decide on a style, it’s time to find the right size.

Single-Flue Chimney Cap Sizes

Square, rectangular, and round single-flue chimney caps are available in quite a few sizes, and each of those sizes fit a range of flue dimensions. The first step in determining what size chimney cap you need is to find out if your flue pipe is square, rectangular, or round.

Square Single-Flue Chimney Cap Sizes

A square stainless steel chimney cap against a white background

If you have a square chimney flue, there are 6 single-flue size options available to you. Chose the cap size you need based on the dimensions of your square chimney flue tile:

Cap MeasurementsFits Tile Size Range of…
9″ x 9″7.5″ x 7.5″ to 9.5″ to 9.5″
11″ x 11″9.75″ x 9.75″ to 12″ x 12″
13″ x 13″11.5″ x 11.5″ to 13.5″ to 13.5″
15″ x 15″13.75″ x 13.75″ to 16″ x 16″
18″ x 18″16.5″ x 16.5″ to 18″ x 18″
20″ x 20″18.5″ x 18.5″ to 20.25″ x 20.25″

How to Measure Your Square Flue Tile

To find out which square single-flue chimney cap you need, measure the length of your flue tile from outer edge to outer edge.

A measuring tape across a square flue tile measuring 8.5 inches

This particular flue tile measures 8.5” x 8.5” from edge to edge. Using the table above, this flue’s measurement falls into the 7.5” x 7.5” to 9.5” x 9.5” range, meaning the flue will require a 9” x 9” chimney cap.

Rectangular Single-Flue Chimney Cap Sizes

A rectangular stainless steel chimney cap against a white background

If you have a rectangular chimney flue, there are 5 single-flue size options available to you. Chose the cap size you need based on the dimensions of your rectangular chimney flue tile:

Cap MeasurementsFits Tile Size Range of…
5″ x 9″3.5″ x 7.5″ to 5.5″ x 9.5″
9″ x 13″7.5″ x 11.5″ to 9.5″ x 13.5″
9″ x 18″7.5″ x 16.5″ to 9.25″ x 18.25″
12″ x 16″10″ x 14″ to 12.5″ x 16.25″
13″ x 18″11.5″ x 16.5″ to 13.25″ x 18.25″

How to Measure Your Rectangular Flue Tile

To find out which rectangular single-flue chimney cap you need, measure the length and width of your rectangular flue tile from outer edge to outer edge.

A side-by-side image of the length and width of a rectangular chimney flue being measured by a tape measure at 8.5 inches by 13 inches

This particular flue tile measures about 8.5” x 13” from edge to edge. Using the table above, this measurement falls into the 7.5” x 11.5” to 9.5” x 13.5” range, meaning this flue will require a 9” x 13” chimney cap.

Round Single-Flue Chimney Cap Sizes

A round stainless steel chimney cap against a white background

If you have a round chimney flue, there are 6 single-flue size options available to you. Chose the cap size you need based on the diameter of your round chimney flue tile:

Cap DiameterFits Tile Diameter Range of…
8″7.5″ to 8.5″
10″9.5″ to 10.5″
12”11.5″ to 12.5″
14″13.5″ to 14.5″
16″15.5″ to 16.5″
18″17.5″ to 18.5″

How to Measure Your Round Flue Tile

To find out which round single-flue chimney cap you need, measure the diameter of your round flue tile from outer edge to outer edge.

A round chimney flue pipe with a measuring tape measuring its diameter at 11.75 inches

This particular flue tile measures about 11.75” in diameter from edge to edge. Using the table above, this measurement falls into the 11.5” to 12.5” range, meaning this flue will require a cap with a 12-inch diameter.

Multi-Flue Chimney Cap Sizes

A rectangular multi-flue stainless steel chimney cap against a white background

Chimneys that have multiple flues vary in size much more than chimneys with just one flue. As a result, multi-flue chimney caps are available in a wide range of sizes. There are 3 different sizes of square, multi-flue chimney caps:

Flange to FlangeFits a Crown Measuring at Least…
11.25″ x 11.25″13.25″ x 13.25″
15.25″ x 15.25″17.25″ x 17.25″
18.25″ x 18.25″20.25″ x 20.25″

While square multi-flue caps are pretty straightforward, the majority of multi-flue chimney caps are rectangular. There are 14 rectangular multi-flue chimney cap sizes:

Flange to FlangeFits a Crown Measuring at Least…
11.25″ x 15.25″13.25″ x 17.25″
14.25″ x 20.25″16.25″ x 22.25″
15.25″ x 22.25″17.25″ x 24.25″
15.25″ x 27.25″17.25″ x 29.25″
15.25″ x 31.25″17.25″ x 33.25″
15.25″ x 35.25″17.25″ x 37.25″
16.25″ x 38.25″18.25″ x 40.25″
18.25″ x 30.25″20.25″ x 32.25″
18.25″ x 36.25″20.25″ x 38.25″
18.25″ x 42.25″20.25″ x 44.25″
18.25″ x 50.25″20.25″ x 52.25″
18.25″ x 54.25″20.25″ x 56.25″
18.25″ x 59.25″20.25″ x 61.25″
18.25″ x 65.25″20.25″ x 67.25″

You should note that there are a few different ways to measure a multi-flue chimney cap:

  • You can measure from screen to screen
  • You can measure the size of the cover (or “hood”)
  • You can measure from flange to flange

The “screens” are simply the mesh screens that act as the “walls” of the cap, and the “cover” is the top portion of the cap that actually covers the flue.

The “flanges” are the pre-drilled metal edges that stick out of the cap perpendicular to the screens. The screws that hold the cap on the chimney crown go through the pre-drilled holes on the flanges and into the crown.

When measuring a multi-flue chimney cap for installation, it’s most helpful to consider the flange-to-flange measurement of the cap because the flanges rest directly on top of the crown (and need to fit precisely).

How to Measure Your Chimney Crown for a Multi-Flue Chimney Cap

To find out which multi-flue cap size you need, measure the length and width of your chimney crown from its flattest point on one edge to its flattest point on the opposite edge. Do this both for the length and width of your crown.

A chimney crown with a measuring tape across is measuring a length of 18 inches

The crown of the chimney above is square — 18” x 18”. The table above indicates that a crown measuring at least 17.25” x 17.25” needs a square, multi-flue chimney cap with flanges measuring 15.25” x 15.25”.

It’s also important to ensure that the flanges rest at least one inch from the flat edge of the chimney crown. Inserting screws too close to the edge of your crown could cause it to crack, resulting in damage to the crown over time.

A multi-flue chimney cap flange resting on a chimney crown with a tape measure indicating that the flange is at least one inch from the edge of the crown
Make sure the cap’s flanges are at least one inch from the edge of your crown

Band-Around-Brick Chimney Cap Sizes

An aluminum band-around-brick chimney cap against a white background

Band-around-brick chimney caps are essentially single-flue chimney caps that offer more coverage. Instead of bolting directly onto the flue tile, these caps clamp onto the top row of the chimney’s brick, providing more robust protection for the concrete crown of the chimney.

These chimney caps come in 4 different sizes — 3 for square chimneys, and 1 for rectangular chimneys:

Size OptionsFits Top Row of Brick Range of…
Square size 115.5″ x 15.5″ to 17.5″ to 17.5″
Square size 216.5″ x 16.5″ to 18.5″ x 18.5″
Square size 320.5″ x 20.5″ to 22.5″ x 22.5″
Rectangular16.5″ x 20.5″ to 18.5″ x 22.5″

How to Measure for a Band-Around-Brick Chimney Cap

In order to find out which size band-around-brick chimney cap will best fit your chimney, start by determining whether you have a square or rectangular chimney. From there, measure the length and width of the top row of your chimney’s brick.

A prop chimney, crown, and flue with a tape measure across the top row of bricks measuring 17.5 inches

This particular chimney is square, and it measures about 17.5” x 17.5”. Using the table above, this measurement falls into the 16.5″ x 16.5″ to 18.5″ x 18.5″ range, meaning this flue will require a square size 2 chimney cap.

What if Your Chimney Doesn’t Fit the Standard Sizes?

Before now, you probably had little to no idea of how to measure a chimney cap for installation. And it’s no wonder it’s so confusing — the tables above indicate that there are 38 possible sizes of chimney caps, and that’s just what we were able to cover here!

Once you start to narrow the list down based on the shape of your flue or how many flues you need to cover, finding the correct size becomes a much simpler process.

There’s a lingering question though: what if your chimney cap doesn’t fit any of the sizes mentioned in this guide?

If that’s the case for you, don’t worry — that just means you need a custom-made chimney cap. We make plenty of custom caps at HY-C; in fact, since 2020, we’ve manufactured over 9,000 of them.

If you believe you need a custom-made chimney cap, our custom chimney cap guide covers all the styles, sizes, and materials we offer. Give it a look, and you’ll be one step closer to finding the perfect cap to cover your chimney.

Custom Chimney Cap Guide CTA
Fire Chief FC1000E wood burning furnace shells on wood pallets on an assembly line in a factory

The 4 Best Wood Burning Furnaces of 2023

Buying a wood burning furnace is not something you should do lightly. A wood furnace is a big commitment, and you want to do everything you can to make sure you wind up with a fantastic appliance that will last a lifetime.

But there are so many questions to consider: how much should you spend? How does each model compare with each other? What options are even available in the first place?

In this guide, we want to take as much of the guesswork out of buying a wood burning furnace as possible for you. So we’ll compare four of the finest furnaces on the market today to help you find the right one for your home and budget.

A quick note before we begin — we manufacture one of the furnaces on this list: the Fire Chief FC1000E. Still, we know all four of these furnaces very well, and we’re going to compare them as objectively as possible (in no particular order) to help you decide which one you need, whether that’s a Fire Chief or another one of the great furnaces on this list.

Best Wood Burning Furnaces: Criteria, Definitions, and Methodology

Before we get going, note that all four furnaces on this list:

Also, in order to be as objective as possible (because, again, we manufacture one of the furnaces), we leaned on EPA testing data to gauge each furnace against its competitors. Here are two pertinent definitions for you to understand from that testing data:

  • Efficiency rating: The percentage of heat that is transferred to the space to be heated when a load of fuel is burned. Efficiency percentages are based on the EPA-specified CSA B 415-10 stack loss testing method.
  • Maximum heat delivered: Maximum amount of heat provided to other rooms through ducting at ten pounds per cubic feet fuel loading density over one total burn cycle

With that established — and in no particular order — let’s get into the top four wood burning furnaces.

Drolet Heat Commander

A Drolet Heat Commander wood burning furnace against a white background

The Drolet Heat Commander at a glance:

  • Firebox Volume: 3.6 cubic feet
  • Efficiency Rating: 77%
  • Maximum Heat Delivered: 42,234 BTUs
  • Average Price: $3,999

If reviews from online forums are to be believed, the Drolet Heat Commander is a well-liked wood burning furnace from many a customer’s perspective. It’s made in Canada by skilled tradespeople who know their craft well — they also make EPA-certified wood stoves and pellet stoves, among other hearth products.

One of the best things about the Heat Commander is that it boasts the highest efficiency rating of all the furnaces on this list according to the EPA test data, meaning you’ll get the very best out of each log you put into it.

Drolet’s Heat Commander is also unique in that it offers a limited lifetime warranty for its combustion chamber and cast iron door frame — the only furnace on this list to offer any kind of lifetime warranty for any of its components.

On the downside, it’s a little pricey at $3,999 (relative to other options on the list). It also weighs just a bit over 600 pounds, meaning that getting it set up in your basement (or wherever you want to place it) may prove tricky. Its distribution blower’s delivery rate of 1,135 cubic feet per minute (CFM) is also the second-lowest on the list.

Still, the Heat Commander is, without a doubt, one of the best EPA-approved wood burning furnaces you can find today. It’s no surprise that a Canadian company knows how to make a good heater.

US Stove Hot Blast HB1520

A US Stove Hot Blast HB1520 wood burning furnace on a white background

The Hot Blast HB1520 at a glance:

  • Firebox Volume: 3.95 cubic feet
  • Efficiency Rating: 70%
  • Maximum Heat Delivered: 53,042 BTUs
  • Average Price: $2,300

Around since 1869, US Stove is certainly not lacking in experience. The company simply knows heating products — they make warm air furnaces, gas stoves, wood stoves, portable forced air heaters, and much more.

When it comes to wood burning furnace prices, their Hot Blast HB1520 simply can’t be beat. At the time of writing, the average price of one of these units comes out to about $2,300. Also, the HB1520’s firebox measures in at a staggering 3.95 cubic feet, the highest on the list.

The Hot Blast simply can’t be touched on maximum heat delivered, either; at just a bit over 53,000 BTUs, this furnace’s heat delivery capability is nearly 7,000 BTUs higher than the next-highest furnace on the list, our own Fire Chief FC1000E.

If that all sounds too good to be true, there are a few caveats to consider. For instance, if you prefer to support domestically made products, the HB1520 is the only furnace on this list which is not made in North America, but overseas.

The Hot Blast also has extremely high clearances-to-combustibles, the distance from which the furnace must be kept from flammable materials. The HB1520’s clearances are 25 inches on the sides and 26 inches on the back.

To put that in perspective, the next-highest clearances on the list — the Heat Commander — are 11 inches on the sides and 14 inches on the back. This means that the HB1520 requires more empty space around it than some homeowners may have in their installation location.

Finally, the EPA data indicates that the Hot Blast HB1520 also puts off the most grams of carbon monoxide per minute — 4.6 — of all four furnaces on this list. This is well over double the next-highest rate of 1.73 grams per minute. Still, if the pros outweigh the cons for you, US Stove’s Hot Blast HB1520 is a totally viable wood burning furnace option.

Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100

A Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100 wood burning furnace on a pallet on a factory floor

The Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100 at a glance:

  • Firebox Volume: 3.9 cubic feet
  • Efficiency Rating: 76%
  • Maximum Heat Delivered: 33,691 BTUs
  • Average Price: $7,895

Kuuma’s Vapor-Fire 100 is also a big favorite among wood burning enthusiasts. These furnaces are made by Lamppa Manufacturing Inc., a family business in Minnesota who are very passionate about their wood burning products; in addition to the Vapor-Fire, they also make wood burning sauna stoves.

For starters, the Vapor-Fire 100 is made in the USA by skilled workers who have been in the business for years — a testament to its quality and dependability. Its firebox is virtually just as big as the Hot Blast HB1520’s, too, meaning you can fit more wood for longer burns.

Perhaps the best thing going for the Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100 is that, according to the EPA testing data, it’s the cleanest-burning furnace on the market today. EPA-certified furnaces are ultra-clean by necessity, but the Vapor-Fire takes it to another level.

It boasts an emissions rate of just 0.1 pounds of material per million BTUs at a 76% efficiency rating. It also puts off the least carbon monoxide of any furnace on this list at 1.46 grams per minute.

So what’s the catch?

The price, for one thing. At the time of writing, a Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100 will set you back $7,895, nearly double the next-priciest furnace on the list, the Drolet Heat Commander.

The Vapor-Fire also claims the lowest maximum heat delivered on this list at around 33,700 BTUs according to the EPA data. At 675 pounds, it’s also the heaviest furnace by 70 pounds, so getting it into your house for installation may prove challenging.

Still, with these caveats aside, the Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100 is about as good as a wood burning furnace gets. From a company based in chilly Minnesota, we’d expect nothing less.

HY-C Fire Chief FC1000E

A Fire Chief FC1000E wood burning furnace on a white background

The Fire Chief FC1000E at a glance:

  • Firebox Volume: 3.4 cubic feet
  • Efficiency Rating: 70%
  • Maximum Heat Delivered: 46,435 BTUs
  • Average Price: $3,100

Rounding out the list of the 4 best wood burning furnaces is the Fire Chief FC1000E. Each Fire Chief furnace is made in the USA, right at our headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The folks who make these furnaces have been making them for years, and they pack all of that experience into each and every weld.

The FC1000E is also engineered to be very easy to self-install. The electrical components require no professional electrical work. They come pre-wired, and all that’s required is to plug one component into the other. If you can plug something into a wall outlet, you can install the electrical components on a Fire Chief FC1000E.

The furnace comes with a built-in plenum for easy ductwork installation, too, and at just 435 pounds, it’s the lightest furnace on this list by 150 pounds, so getting it to the install location will be a (relative) breeze.

We’re certainly not so bold as to say our furnace doesn’t have caveats or that other furnaces on this list don’t do some things a bit better than ours. For instance, the FC1000E’s firebox is the smallest on the list at just 3.4 cubic feet. That means you may have to load it more often than the others.

Also, its 70% efficiency rating, while high enough to pass EPA certification, is tied with the US Stove Hot Blast HB1520 for lowest on the list by the EPA’s testing data. It also has the highest emission rate on the list at 0.14 pounds of material per million BTUs.

Still, the upsides include this furnace’s price, quality, and its made-in-USA construction. We’re up against some stiff competition in the furnace market, and that pushes all of us manufacturers to work hard to make better furnaces for you.

Which Wood Burning Furnace Should You Get?

Before now, you probably had little insight into the current state of the wood burning furnace market. You may have been wondering on which merits to compare furnaces, or even which options are available to homeowners today.

By now, though, we’ve taken a good look at four industry-leading wood burning furnaces and compared them on their efficiency, their prices, their heat delivery capabilities, and more.

So — which one should you get?

It really all depends on what you’re looking for out of your furnace. Do you prefer something manufactured domestically, or are you okay with buying an overseas product for a bit less money?

Are you most concerned about heat delivery? Do you want best-in-class efficiency out of your furnace? Or do you want the biggest possible firebox so you can set your fire and let it burn for the longest period possible?

To end up with your perfect furnace, consider the aspects that are most important to you and choose the one that fits them best. If you’re still unsure, take a look at our more granular comparison between the Fire Chief FC1000E and the Hot Blast HB1520. It should give you an even better idea of what to look for when comparing furnaces and help you narrow your search even further.

And if you feel like you want to give a Fire Chief FC1000E a try, our Fire Chief furnace store locator will help you to find a retail location near you.

Fire Chief FC1000E vs. Hot Blast HB1520 CTA
An exploded view of a Gardus SnugDryer against a white background

Gardus SnugDryer Dryer Vent Wall Plate: An Honest Review

Dryers are great appliances. Long gone are the days of clotheslines and clothespins; nowadays, you just toss your laundry from the washer into the dryer, choose the appropriate cycle, and your clean clothes are ready to be folded in an hour or less.

Dryers aren’t without their issues, though — lint buildup in the vent hose can hamper their efficiency or even cause a house fire. The vent hose connection point on the back can also cause your dryer to jut out from the wall much farther than your washer, which takes up space and looks aesthetically unpleasing.

SnugDryer — a HY-C dryer vent wall plate under our Gardus brand name — was created to solve these issues: improving the safety, efficiency, and alignment of your clothes dryer. But the question is, does it actually solve these problems?

How much space does SnugDryer save? How does it help alleviate lint buildup? Which situations are best-suited for a SnugDryer — and who may not be a good fit for one?

While we are the manufacturer of SnugDryer, we want to answer all these questions as clearly and objectively as possible to help you figure out whether or not you need one.

By the time you’re done here, you’ll understand how SnugDryer works, its pros and cons, and you’ll be able to decide for yourself whether your dryer setup should or shouldn’t include one.

Three Pros of a SnugDryer Dryer Vent Wall Plate

1. It Helps to Reclaim Lost Space

A side-by-side comparison of a washer and dryer setup with SnugDryer installed vs. without SnugDryer installed, demonstrating that, with SnugDryer, the dryer fits more closely to the wall

Some dryers are installed in a closet area with doors that close in front of the appliance. Others are installed in a dedicated laundry room that may measure anywhere between 50 and 100 square feet. These situations are by no means uncommon, and they result in a pretty tight fit, with the washer and dryer taking up to a quarter of a laundry room’s space.

SnugDryer helps your dryer sit closer to the wall and in line with your washing machine, allowing for an even, aesthetically pleasing fit. A dryer utilizing SnugDryer can save five inches of space or more, which can make all the difference, especially if the washer and dryer are set up in a closet (where the doors have to be able to close without getting stuck on the machine).

2. It’s Designed for Easy Installation

A POV shot from an installer's perspective as they install a Gardus SnugDryer

If you’re even a bit DIY-inclined, you shouldn’t have to pay a contractor to install a SnugDryer for you. As long as you have access to a drill and are nimble enough to move your dryer out and get behind it, you should be able to install a SnugDryer on your own.

The kit comes with all the hardware you need — four screws and four drywall anchors. Of course, it also comes with the housing (two plastic panels and a rubber gasket) and the cylindrical hose connection piece.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the box that your SnugDryer comes in will act as your measuring tool. Just cut the template out from the box and trace it carefully against your drywall with a pen or pencil. As long as you’re precise, installation should go smoothly.

3. It Increases the Efficiency and Safety of Your Dryer

A close-up of a dryer's vent connection port fitting into a fully-installed Gardus SnugDryer

The biggest problem with a clothes dryer is the accumulation of lint in its venting. This lint accumulation problem is often the result of flex pipe; over time, as a dryer gets bumped into or pushed toward the wall, the flexible pipe connecting the dryer to the exhaust vent gets crushed. This causes the lint to collect near the dryer’s exhaust port, which could lead to a fire.

SnugDryer utilizes a non-flexible plastic connection port, eliminating the easily-damaged flexible pipe altogether, allowing lint to be sucked safely away from the exhaust port.

Not only will keeping the port clear and lint-free exponentially decrease your risk of a house fire, but it will save you money, too; clogged dryer vents can add up to $25 a month to your energy bill.

A clear dryer vent also means that your dryer will run more efficiently. A dryer that can’t cycle air properly will take much longer to dry your clothes. SnugDryer helps facilitate proper airflow, ensuring clothes dry faster.

Three Cons of a SnugDryer Dryer Vent Wall Plate

1. It’s Best Suited to New Construction

A contractor installing a Gardus SnugDryer into a house that's under construction with the wall studs and subfloor visible

As with any other project requiring ductwork or venting, SnugDryer is most easily installed before drywall is put into place. That’s not to say that a retrofit installation isn’t possible — folks who buy SnugDryer do it all the time. But it is more difficult.

Obviously most people looking for a solution like SnugDryer aren’t typically looking to install one on a home they’re building; rather, homeowners are most often looking to upgrade the efficiency of their current dryer setup.

That said, if you happen to be in the process of building a home, be sure to talk to your builders about SnugDryer. Now’s the best time to install one in your future home if you’re interested.

If, on the other hand, you want to retrofit your existing dryer vent connection, you certainly can. But be sure you’re aware that…

2. It May Not Be DIY-Friendly

A contractor cutting a hole out of drywall in order to install a Gardus SnugDryer

While SnugDryer is designed for easy installation, a self-install may not be for everyone. Homeowners’ DIY skill sets are all over the map, and it’s important to understand whether or not you’ll be able to tackle a SnugDryer installation on your own or if you should leave it to a contractor.

Installing your own SnugDryer will require you to pull your dryer out and get on the floor behind it. You’ll also need to be able to measure precisely where your dryer vent connects with your drywall and the ductwork on the other side.

You’ll need to be comfortable with putting drywall anchors and screws into your wall. But the thing that may turn most homeowners off to a self-install (especially DIY novices) is the requirement to cut a hole in your drywall.

If everything isn’t measured out accurately from the start, you could wind up cutting out the wrong part of your wall. Cutting improperly poses two problems: for one, you’ll need to repair the damage you caused with the first cut. For another, you’ll need to try again, which poses the risk of even more damage.

If you think you can handle all these caveats, you may be able to install a SnugDryer on your own. If you have doubts, though, err on the side of hiring a contractor.

3. It’s Not Suited for Every Dryer Setup

A washer and dryer in an industrial factory with various cleaning tools and agents scattered around

We manufacture SnugDryer, and of course, we like it when we sell them. But trust us: SnugDryer is simply not suited for some washer and dryer tandems.

Take basements, for example. Any dryer sitting with its back facing the concrete foundation would not benefit from SnugDryer at all. SnugDryer is meant to plug into a vent system enclosed in the drywall behind it, and in an unfinished basement, the dryer exhaust vent is almost always mounted well above the dryer. In this case, a flexible dryer vent hose is the only way to go.

More generally, if the dryer connection point in your ductwork isn’t already at the same height as the exhaust port on the dryer itself, SnugDryer may be more trouble than it’s worth. These cases can require cutting out large sections of drywall to adjust the position of the ductwork inside the walls.

If you really want your dryer to be flush with your wall for aesthetic purposes or you want to up your dryer’s efficiency, a project that intensive may be worth the financial investment. If not, though, you may simply have to rely on a dryer vent hose instead — after all, situations like that are what they’re made for.

Is a Gardus SnugDryer Dryer Vent Wall Plate Right for You?

By now, you should have a good understanding of what SnugDryer is, how it works, and the problems it’s meant to help solve. We’re confident that, for the right homeowner, SnugDryer can save space, increase your dryer’s efficiency, and even make your home safer. But ultimately that decision is yours.

If you find that your ductwork doesn’t line up with your dryer’s exhaust port or you don’t feel too comfortable with tools or drywall work (and you don’t want to pay a contractor), SnugDryer may not be the right fit for you.

But if you’re handy, if your home’s blueprint makes sense, or if you’re willing to make some adjustments (or pay a contractor), a SnugDryer is a great device to help improve your laundry room setup. You’ll end up with a dryer that fits the way you want it to and dries clothes with out-of-the-box efficiency.

The components of a LintEater Pro dryer vent cleaning kit laid out on a concrete floor

How to Use a Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit [6 Steps with Pictures]

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are nearly 16,000 dryer fires every year in the United States. Most of the time, these fires start due to an uncleaned dryer vent. As a dryer is used on a weekly basis, lint gathers in the vent hose and backs up over time. If it backs up too closely to the heating elements, that’s a house fire waiting to happen.

It’s best to keep your dryer vent clean and lint-free, but professional dryer vent cleaning can be expensive. Luckily, there’s a solution for the DIY-minded homeowner: dryer vent cleaning kits.

But how do you use a dryer vent cleaning kit?

And, beyond just lint, how do these kits help you clean out bigger blockages?

At HY-C, we manufacture LintEater, a home dryer vent cleaning kit designed to help you clean your own dryer vent and keep your home safe from accidental house fires. We understand that these cleaning kits are complex, so we want to show you how to use one.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to use a dryer vent cleaning kit step by step (we’ll use our own LintEater Pro as an example, but most of these kits operate very similarly to each other). We’ll also explain how to use the kit to clear larger obstructions (like birds nests) from your dryer vent, and we’ll include step-by-step pictures to make things as clear as possible.

Step 1: Take an Inventory

A layout of the separate components of a dryer vent cleaning kit

Before cleaning lint, blockages, or anything else from your dryer vent hose, the best thing to do is to take stock of your dryer vent cleaning kit to make sure all the components are present. Our LintEater Pro kit, for example, includes the following components:

  1. Four 36” rods
  2. One 2.5” lint brush
  3. One 4” auger brush
  4. One vacuum adapter
  5. One dryer/blower adapter (with size adjustment ring)
  6. One blockage removal tool (with nut)
  7. One drill adapter bit
  8. One button release pin tool

In order to capitalize on the kit’s rotary cleaning capabilities, you’ll also need a cordless drill. Be sure the drill’s chuck is big enough to accommodate the drill adapter bit (a drill with a ⅜” or ½” chuck will work well).

It’s optional, but if you have a Shop-Vac (or a similar vacuum), it will help greatly during the lint removal process.

Step 2: Clean out any Large Blockages

A rod, drill bit connector, blockage removal tool, and nut of a dryer vent cleaning kit

This step doesn’t require your drill yet (but keep it handy). Start by locating your dryer exhaust vent on the side of your home. You’ll have to remove that vent and any other protective covers that may be present on your home (like animal exclusion guards).

A black dryer vent cover on a house with white siding

After that’s off, attach the drill adapter to one of the rods, slide the blockage removal tool over the threaded portion of the drill bit adapter, and secure it in place with the nut.

From there, insert the rod into your dryer vent, continually rotating it clockwise as you slide it in. As you insert the full length of the rod all the way into the vent, connect another rod to continue pushing further into the vent.

If you feel any blockages (like a bird’s nest or a large chunk of lint), keep rotating the rod(s) to catch the blockage on the removal tool. Pull out any large obstructions you find until you reach the end of the vent hose.

After you’ve finished clearing these blockages out, you’re ready to tackle the dryer lint.

Step 3: Attach Your Vacuum

A vacuum hose connected to a flexible dryer vent pipe by way of a vacuum adapter

Pull your dryer out from the wall and disconnect the vent hose from the back. Next, insert the vacuum adapter into the vent hose and connect the vacuum hose into the vacuum adapter (if your vacuum hose doesn’t fit, try using the included adapter ring).

The rest of the cleaning process consists of pushing lint from the exhaust vent on the outside of your home toward the vacuum on the other end. If you don’t have a Shop-Vac-style vacuum, that’s okay — just understand that the lint will spill out of the hose and onto your floor, and you’ll have to pick it up after you’re finished.

Step 4: Assemble Your Cleaning Kit

Head back outside with the rest of your kit’s components. Insert the drill adapter bit back into your drill and attach a 36” rod. Depending on the kit you purchased, your rods may have button-style connectors, or they may be threaded and screwed into each other.

A dryer vent cleaning kit rod with a button-style connector about to connect with the drill bit connector attached to a drill

On the other end of this rod, attach the auger brush. Also, be sure to insert a fully-charged battery into your cordless drill.

The auger brush head of a dryer vent cleaning kit being connected to one of the kit's rods via a button-style connector

Step 5: Clean Your Dryer Vent

A dryer vent cleaning kit's auger brush head about to be inserted into a dryer vent hose

With the rod, auger brush, and drill connected, it’s time to clean the lint out of your dryer vent hose. Insert the auger brush head into the dryer vent and power on your drill. Be sure to utilize a medium to high power setting.

Push the auger head back and forth, moving your way deeper into the vent hose to dislodge dryer lint as you go. After you’ve pushed the first rod all the way into the hose, disconnect that rod from the drill and attach another one. Attach those two rods to each other, and hook everything back up to the drill. Additional rods will allow you to push even deeper into the vent hose.

Two dryer vent cleaning kit rods about to be connected to each other via a button-style connector

Repeat this process as many times as you need to until you reach the end of your vent hose or you run out of cleaning rods. (If the rods in your kit aren’t long enough to clean the entire vent hose, simply finish the job from the other end.)

The auger brush head of a dryer vent cleaning kit sticking out of the far end of a dryer vent hose

Step 6: Reconnect Your Vent Hose to Your Dryer

After you’ve cleaned out all the excess lint in the dryer hose, be sure to reconnect the hose to the back of the dryer. Also, reattach any dryer vent covers you may have removed from the outside of your home.

A before and after shot of a dryer vent hose when it was filled with lint and after it was cleaned

How Often Should You Clean Your Dryer Vent?

Dryer vent cleaning kits come with all kinds of parts and pieces that work together to help you keep your dryer vents lint-free. By now, you should have a sense of how those pieces work together, and how to use them to eliminate lint from your dryer vent effectively.

But cleaning just once isn’t enough. It’s best practice to clean your dryer vent three or four times a year, especially if you do laundry often for several members of your household. Keeping a clean vent not only helps to prevent house fires, but it also allows your dryer to run more efficiently.

If you don’t have a kit yet, it may be helpful to compare some of the most popular dryer vent cleaning kits on the market. This will help you to get a sense of which kit is the best fit for your dryer setup and will go a long way to reducing fire hazards in your home.

The Top 3 Dryer Vent Cleaning Kits Compared CTA
A square copper chimney cap on the green floor of an industrial warehouse with forklifts in the background

Should You Get a Copper Chimney Cap?

The vast majority of chimney caps on houses throughout the United States are made of steel — either stainless or black galvanized. Still other caps are made from aluminum, a material that’s low in cost yet durable enough to last on a rooftop for years.

But for those who are interested in adding a luxurious touch to the top of their chimney flue, there’s copper: a time-tested, eye-catching material used in everything from plumbing to pennies to the Statue of Liberty itself.

But just how much will one of these expensive copper chimney caps cost you?

And are there any limitations to the sizes, shapes, and styles of chimney flues a copper cap can fit?

As a company who makes our chimney caps right here in the USA, we want to help you uncover the answers to these questions — and more. We’ll explain just how much a copper chimney cap costs relative to its steel counterparts, and we’ll outline the shapes and dimensions required of a chimney flue to accommodate a copper cap.

By the time you’re finished here, you’ll know if you have the right flue size and the right budget to get a copper chimney cap for your home.

How Much Does a Copper Chimney Cap Cost?

The best way to contextualize the cost of a copper chimney cap is to consider its price relative to a stainless steel cap of the same size.

Chimney cap prices are determined largely by their dimensions. For example, a square cap measuring 8” x 8” costs less than the same style of cap measuring 13” x 13”. The larger cap requires more material and costs more as a result.

Let’s compare the prices of three styles of square, single-flue HY-C chimney caps by size in both stainless steel and copper:

Flue DimensionsStainless Steel Cap PriceCopper Cap Price
7.5” x 7.5” to 9.5” x 9.5”$79$270
11.5” x 11.5” to 13.5” x 13.5”$130$300
16.5” x 16.5” to 18” x 18”$166$340

It’s clear that square copper caps are quite a bit more expensive than square stainless steel caps. The same holds true for rectangular single-flue chimney caps:

Flue DimensionsStainless Steel Cap PriceCopper Cap Price
7.5” x 11.5” to 9.5” x 13.5”$110$336
7.5” x 16.5” to 9.25” x 18.25”$125$355
10” x 14” to 12.25” x 16.25”$135$373
11.5” x 16.5” to 13.25” x 18.25”$145$385

Depending on the dimensions of your chimney flue, a copper chimney cap can cost anywhere from $170 to $250 more than a stainless steel cap.

That’s true for a simple reason: copper is scarce, while steel is relatively more widely available. If your primary concern for your chimney cap is simply functionality, then a common, dependable stainless steel cap works perfectly well.

But if you prefer the aesthetic appeal of a copper cap and you’re willing to pay double or even triple the price you’d pay for a stainless steel chimney cap, there are options available for you — but they may be more limited than you might expect.

What Sizes do Copper Chimney Caps Come In?

Three multi-flue copper chimney caps on a gray, textured background

If money isn’t an object in your chimney cap purchase and you’re leaning towards a copper cap, the next factor to consider is size. Black galvanized and stainless steel chimney caps are incredibly versatile size-wise, and we make them in dozens of shapes and sizes to fit virtually any chimney and flue combination.

Copper caps come in a variety of sizes, too, but not nearly as many as stainless steel caps or black galvanized caps. To start with, if you have a circular or oval chimney flue, you’re out of luck — we don’t make any round copper chimney caps.

From there, that leaves square and rectangular single-flue and multi-flue copper caps. In these categories, there’s a bit more to choose from.

Multi-Flue Copper Chimney Caps

A multi-flue copper chimney cap installed on a chimney's crown

If your chimney has two or more flue pipes, you’re in luck: we make our black galvanized, stainless steel, and copper chimney caps in the same 17 lengths and widths:

Screen to ScreenCrown Dimensions Required
10″ x 10″14.5″ x 14.5″ to 15″ x 15″
10″ x 14″14.5″ x 18.5″ to 15″ x 19″
14″ x 14″18.5″ x 18.5″ to 19″ x 19″
13″ x 19″17.5″ x 23.5″ to 18″ x 24″
17″ x 17″21.5″ x 21.5″ to 22″ x 22″
14″ x 21″18.5″ x 25.5″ to 19″ x 26″
14″ x 26″18.5″ x 30.5″ to 19″ x 31″
14″ x 30″18.5″ x 34.5″ to 19″ x 35″
14″ x 34″18.5″ x 38.5″ to 19″ x 39″
15″ x 37″19.5″ x 41.5″ to 20″ x 42″
17″ x 29″21.5″ x 34.5″ to 22″ x 35″
17″ x 35″21.5″ x 39.5″ to 22″ x 40″
17″ x 41″21.5″ x 45.5″ to 22″ x 46″
17″ x 49″21.5″ x 53.5″ to 22″ x 54″
17″ x 53″21.5″ x 57.5″ to 22″ x 58″
17″ x 58″21.5″ x 62.5″ to 22″ x 63″
17″ x 64″21.5″ x 68.5″ to 22″ x 69″

Be careful, though — multi-flue copper chimney caps are available in different heights than black galvanized and stainless steel caps:

  • Multi-flue black galvanized and stainless steel chimney caps can be either 8”, 10”, or 14” in height
  • Multi-flue copper chimney caps, though, can be either 9”, 12”, or 14” in height

Why does the height of a chimney cap matter? It has to do with the clearance between the top of the flue tile and the cover of the chimney cap itself.

Smoke and hot gasses move up the flue as a fire burns in your fireplace, and those gasses need to escape out of the top of the flue. If the chimney cap’s cover doesn’t provide enough clearance for these gasses to escape, they’ll get backed up inside the chimney, and you may end up with smoke inside your house.

To prevent this, there should be at least 6” of space between the top of the flue tile and the chimney cap’s cover. That means if your flue tile protrudes 3” from your chimney’s crown, you’ll need a cap that’s 9” in height (to allow for that 6” of space).

All three of our metal caps (black galvanized, stainless, and copper) are available in 14” heights. But copper caps come in two additional heights: 9” and 12” (as opposed to the stainless and black galvanized caps’ 8” and 10” heights).

If a multi-flue copper cap doesn’t allow 6” of clearance (or more) over your chimney flue in any of their three available height options, you run the risk of filling your house with smoke. So keep the height of your flue tile in mind before you buy.

Custom Copper Chimney Caps

A custom skirt-type copper chimney cap installed on a chimney on a white background

We make one style of custom copper chimney cap: the custom skirt-type. Aside from the visual appeal of the copper material itself, copper skirt-type caps have a huge functional advantage: the skirt covers the entirety of the concrete chimney crown, protecting it from damage from both weather and wildlife.

These caps can fit single-flue and multi-flue chimneys, and they’re made to order based on the size of your chimney and the height of your flue. There are some size restrictions, though:

  • Custom skirt-type chimney caps are limited to 38” x 88”
  • Custom skirt-type chimney caps must be 9”, 12”, or 14” high

If you want or need a custom chimney cap, copper skirt-types are a great way to go. Just remember that they’ll cost much more than custom stainless steel caps.

Let us make you a custom chimney cap CTA

Single-Flue Copper Chimney Caps

A square, single-flue copper chimney cap on a white background

Single-flue chimney caps are a bit more straightforward than custom or multi-flue caps. They don’t attach to the chimney’s crown; rather, they are attached to the flue tile itself. This means that unlike a multi-flue chimney cap, there’s no need to worry about the height of a single-flue cap, because the clearance from the flue tile to the cap’s cover will be the same on every chimney.

From there, the only thing left to worry about (aside from price, of course) is the length and width of the cap. Again, stainless steel caps are available in more sizes than copper caps. Here’s a look at our square single-flue chimney cap dimensions in both stainless steel and copper:

Flue Tile DimensionsAvailable in Stainless?Available in Copper?
7.5” x 7.5” to 9.5” x 9.5”YesYes
9.75” x 9.75” to 12” x 12”YesNo
11.5” x 11.5” to 13.5” x 13.5”YesYes
13.75” x 13.75” to 16” x 16”YesNo
16.5” x 16.5” to 18” x 18”YesYes
18.5” x 18.5” to 20.25” x 20.25”YesNo

As you can see, copper caps skip a size range; this is akin to a style of tennis shoes only coming in full sizes with no half sizes available.

Why is that?

It’s essentially because historically, customers seldom ordered these sizes, so we’ve found that it doesn’t make sense to make copper chimney caps that no one is asking for.

Rectangular copper caps, on the other hand, are more readily available in the same sizes as their stainless counterparts:

Flue Tile DimensionsAvailable in Stainless?Available in Copper?
3.5” x 7.5” to 5.5” x 9.5”YesNo
7.5” x 11.5” to 9.5” x 13.5”YesYes
7.5” x 16.5” to 9.25” x 18.25”YesYes
10” x 14” to 12.5” x 16.25”YesYes
11.5” x 16.5” to 13.25” x 18.25”YesYes

Aside from the 3.5” x 7.5” to 5.5” x 9.5” range, rectangular copper chimney caps and stainless steel copper caps come in the same sizes, leaving you with more buying options.

Is a Copper Chimney Cap Right for You?

Before now, you may not have known much about copper chimney caps. Perhaps you knew that they were shiny and expensive, but exactly how much they cost and whether or not they’d fit your chimney flue were probably unclear.

By now, you should have a much better understanding of just how much a copper chimney cap will cost and the sizes and styles of chimneys and flues they’ll fit. If you’re interested in getting one yourself, just find the size you need and pull the trigger on your purchase.

But what happens when you actually get your copper cap? Installing a chimney cap is its own rabbit hole. Caps come in several different styles, but, as you know by now, copper caps come in single-flue, multi-flue, or custom designs. Our guide on how to install a chimney cap covers these styles and more. Give it a read; it will prepare you to install your brand-new copper cap when it arrives!

Chimney Cap Installation Guide CTA
A Magic Heat heat reclaimer installed on a wood stove pipe with a wood panel wall in the background

How Does a Heat Reclaimer Work?

If you own a wood stove or a wood burning furnace, you probably understand that wood burning is all about efficiency — the efficiency of your wood fuel, the efficiency of the appliance itself, the efficiency of your flue pipe, etc. You want as much of the heat produced by your furnace or stove as possible not to go to waste.

But even the best wood burning stoves have an efficiency rating of 81% at most. That means in the best-case scenario, nearly 20% of the heat from your wood stove is simply going to waste.

Heat reclaimers were created to rectify this issue, capturing heat that would otherwise be wasted and channeling it back into your home.

But how does a heat reclaimer work?

And what kind of appliances should they be attached to?

At HY-C, we manufacture Magic Heat, a heat reclaimer that’s been around since the 1970s. And we want to share with you just how heat reclaimers work their magic to pump extra heat back into your living space.

By the time you’re through, you’ll know how a heat reclaimer gives you back this extra heat. You’ll also know what kind of wood burning appliances are best for a heat reclaimer, exactly how much recaptured heat one of these appliances helps to save, and how to avoid any dangers that may come along with attaching a heat reclaimer to your flue pipe.

How Does a Stovepipe Heat Reclaimer Work?

A diagram showing how warm air is filtered through a heat reclaimer via the flue pipe

One of the most important aspects of a wood burning appliance (whether it’s a stove, a furnace, or a fireplace) is the flue pipe. As wood burns in the firebox, heat, smoke, and other gasses rise through the flue and out of your home.

To install a heat reclaimer, a section of this flue pipe is cut out, and the heat reclaimer is installed in its place.

On the inside of the reclaimer are ten horizontal transfer tubes made of metal. As heat rises through the flue pipe and into the heat reclaimer, those ten tubes are heated up, and a fan on the back of the reclaimer blows that heat out of the tubes and into your home.

Magic Heat heat reclaimers on a production line with their distribution fan exposed

The heat reclaimer’s fan is thermostatically controlled and designed to turn on and off based on the temperature of your flue pipe:

  • The fan turns on when the pipe is 150°F or hotter
  • The fan turns off when the pipe is 120°F or cooler

A heat reclaimer’s fan is positioned only to blow air through the ten heat transfer pipes, not through the flue pipe itself. This prevents smoke from blowing into your home while still allowing heat to filter in.

How Much Heat Does a Heat Reclaimer Recover?

So, how much heat does a heat reclaimer actually circulate back into your house? To answer that question, we’ll have to do some math.

Let’s say you have a wood stove that is 80% efficient.

Now let’s imagine that you burn a log inside of that stove that has 10,000 BTUs of energy in it (a BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a measurement of a fuel’s heat energy).

Without a heat reclaimer, burning that log inside that wood stove would radiate 8,000 BTUs of heat into your house (80% of 10,000).

Our Magic Heat heat reclaimer, as an example, is capable of recovering up to 30% of the heat energy lost through the flue pipe — in other words, 30% of the 2,000 BTUs lost in the wood stove from our example.

That means in this particular case, a heat reclaimer would recover 600 BTUs of heat energy and send it back into your home.

That may not sound like much, but this example covers just one log. Throughout a cold season, you can expect to burn hundreds of logs in a wood burning appliance. If you burn four cords of wood during the fall and winter — about 3,000 logs — you can recover nearly 2,000,000 BTUs’ worth of energy using a good heat reclaimer.

Which Appliances Can Use a Heat Reclaimer?

A Magic Heat heat reclaimer installed on a wood stove flue pipe on a black-to-white gradient background

The kinds of appliances you can use a heat reclaimer on depend largely on one factor: whether or not they have a flue pipe. Most heat reclaimers are designed to work on appliances with a 6” or 8” flue diameter.

With that in mind, some of the most common heaters to use a heat reclaimer include:

  • Wood burning stoves
  • Pellet stoves
  • Corn stoves
  • Wood burning furnaces
  • Coal furnaces

Out of these appliances, wood burning stoves in particular utilize heat reclaimers more than any other.

Is a Wood Burning Furnace Right for You CTA

The Dangers of a Heat Reclaimer (and How to Avoid Them)

First and foremost, just like the flue pipe that comes out of your heater, heat reclaimers can get very hot. Touching the appliance — especially the heat transfer tubes — can result in burns and skin damage. So be sure not to touch your heat reclaimer when it’s in use and be sure that any curious kids or pets in your home can’t get near it.

Another concern about heat reclaimers revolves around creosote buildup. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood with too much moisture in it. It’s highly flammable, so it’s best to avoid creosote buildup in your chimney flue by burning dry, seasoned firewood.

Creosote may also leak out of your heat reclaimer if it’s installed incorrectly, which is very dangerous, as creosote formation on the outside of a wood burning appliance can easily cause a house fire. To prevent this, the crimped end of the heat reclaimer needs to be installed facing downwards toward your heater.

A stripped-down Magic Heat heat reclaimer on its side with white text and red arrows indicating the crimped end and non-crimped end of the flue pipe connections

If the crimped end is installed facing upwards, there will be a gap in the flue pipe that creosote could leak from. Installing the crimped end down ensures that creosote stays confined to the inside of the chimney pipe where it can be safely cleaned long after the fire has extinguished.

Should You Get a Heat Reclaimer?

Before now, you may not have known much about heat reclaimers or how they work. At this point, though, you should understand how a heat reclaimer functions, how much heat it saves, and how to avoid any potential dangers they entail.

As to whether or not you should get one for yourself, that depends. If you have a wood stove, a furnace, or any other kind of heater with a flue and you’re interested in recapturing some burned heat to increase the efficiency of your appliance, you may be the perfect candidate for a heat reclaimer.

Just be sure to adhere to the proper instructions when installing your heat reclaimer for maximum safety and efficiency, and follow good burn practices when using your wood burning appliance to keep your heat reclaimer in working order for years to come.

If you’re considering buying a heat reclaimer, Magic Heat — a HY-C product — is a solid model that’s been around since the 1970s. The in-depth review below takes a look at the pros and cons of the Magic Heat to help you decide if getting one is right for you and your heating appliance.

Magic Heat Reclaimer review CTA
A professional installer on a roof with a harness installing roof vent guards

3 Reasons Why Only Professionals Should Install Wildlife Exclusion Products

Paying for any house project (like landscaping, building a deck, installing new flooring, and plenty more) usually boils down to two factors: material and labor. It’s basically impossible to avoid paying for material, but DIY-inclined individuals may try to save some money by cutting out labor costs and completing a project themselves.

In a lot of cases, this is a clever way to hone your trade skills and keep your bank account intact. So, if you’re interested in preventative pest control solutions, the question naturally follows: “Should I try to install wildlife exclusion products on my own?”

It’s a fair question. After all, if someone can, say, install a new door on their house, why shouldn’t they try to put in their own pest control products?

At HY-C, we make our own line of wildlife exclusion caps, screens, and guards. We also work directly with wildlife control experts around the country to facilitate installation on homes everywhere, and the consensus is clear: the installation of wildlife exclusion devices is better left to wildlife control professionals rather than homeowners.

That statement may seem overly cautious to some readers. But in this guide, we’ll outline three reasons why it’s best not to install your own wildlife exclusion devices. By the time you’re finished, you’ll understand the nuances and expertise required to ensure the proper installation of these devices, and it will be clear why this kind of work is better left to the professionals.

Why You Shouldn’t Install Wildlife Exclusion Products on Your Own

Reason #1: Roofs Are Dangerous

Black galvanized roof vent guards installed on a residential rooftop

Quite a few wildlife control products (specifically chimney caps and roof vent guards) are installed on a home’s roof. And even if you’re comfortable up on your roof, there are plenty of reasons to avoid climbing that ladder and installing these caps and guards yourself.

First of all, roofs are dangerous. It should go without saying that a fall from a roof can lead to serious injury or even death. That risk is great enough on a single-story home; if you have a two- or three-story house, the probability of significantly harming yourself in a fall increases exponentially.

Roofs are also made with different slopes. Even a flat roof is dangerous enough (especially if you’re close to the edge), but some roofs may feature a slope of 45° or greater. The steeper your roof, the greater the chances of an accident.

Roofers, chimney sweeps, and wildlife control specialists utilize safety equipment to mitigate the risk of falling from a roof while doing their jobs. Between roofing-specific footwear, ladders, harnesses, and ropes, professionals have the gear they need to operate safely on a rooftop.

Even if you own that kind of gear yourself, professionals who work on roofs receive training on the proper use of the equipment and spend years practicing and perfecting their craft. At the end of the day, it’s best to stay off your roof and simply leave the installation of rooftop wildlife exclusion devices to the pros.

Reason #2: Wildlife Laws Vary Widely

A digital sign in black text in all capital letters against a white background with a square black boarder reading, "Wildlife is protected by federal and state law. Trespassing or harming wildlife may result in fines, imprisonment, or both."

Wildlife exclusion devices aren’t designed to capture animals; they’re designed to keep animals out of your house. What can happen if you install your own wildlife exclusion device, though, is that you may miss the signs of an animal’s presence in your home and accidentally seal them in. It’s at this point that you run into problems with your local, state, and even national wildlife control laws.

These laws are far too complex to delve into deeply here — they vary from state to state, or even city to city. But we can give you a few quick highlights of common wildlife legal problems courtesy of our wildlife control experts:

  • You’re generally not allowed to keep the animals you catch
  • In many cases, you can’t release captured animals on public land
  • Some states don’t allow captured animals to cross county lines
  • Some states don’t allow you even to capture animals at all (you can only exclude them)
  • Many states require the euthanasia of a captured animal

For these reasons, it’s important to allow a trained wildlife control operator to inspect your house for animals before installing exclusion devices. From there, that same expert (or another expert they’ve recommended) should install the exclusion equipment. Proper training and a keen understanding of local wildlife laws are prerequisites that only a wildlife control expert can offer.

Reason #3: Understanding Animal Behavior Requires Training

A raccoon stuck in a humane raccoon cage trap

One of the most important aspects of installing wildlife exclusion products is knowing how to install the right device at the right time for the right critter. Installing a screen with ⅝” mesh (instead of ⅜” mesh) on a foundation vent could result in mice or birds invading. Forgetting to attach some bug screen to a ⅜” mesh soffit vent could wind up allowing wasps and stink bugs into your attic.

Animals are crafty and resourceful. Once they’ve found a place to live and store food, they don’t want to give up on that spot — even if it’s right inside your chimney. Installing wildlife exclusion devices isn’t just about using the right hardware and the right drill bit; it’s about knowing critters’ habits and how to adapt to them.

Wildlife control professionals spend years learning about the animals they control, and the good ones become experts in those animals, acutely aware of what they like, how they act, and how to keep them out of peoples’ houses. For these reasons (and more), they’re best qualified to install exclusion products on your home.

What Kind of Wildlife Does (and Doesn't) HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Exclude?

How Can You Find Someone to Install Wildlife Exclusion Products?

You may have come to this article with some skepticism, but hopefully by now it’s clear why the installation of wildlife exclusion devices is better left to the professionals. Between the dangers of being on your roof without proper training and equipment, not understanding your local wildlife laws, and having little to no experience with animals’ behavior, there are plenty of reasons to defer to a wildlife control operator.

But where can you find one?

If you’re interested in installing HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’S animal exclusion screens, guards, caps, we’d be more than happy to point you in the direction of an operator in your area who can help. We’ve built up a great network of professionals who install our products (or products like them) all the time. Get in touch with our customer service team — they’ll be happy to assist you.

A compilation of 7 different styles of HY-C chimney caps on a transparent brick background

How to Install a Chimney Cap [7 Different Styles]

You’ve gone through the process of finding the perfect chimney cap. You found your flue dimensions, you picked the metal you wanted, and you finally pulled the trigger on your purchase. But as you unboxed your new cap, you suddenly realized you had a question: “How do I install this thing, anyway?”

We live and breathe chimney caps at HY-C. We’ve sold thousands of them over the years, and we design our caps with ease of installation in mind. Our customer service team has answered countless questions from contractors, roofing professionals, and chimney sweeps about how to install our caps, and we want to share what we know with you.

In this guide, we’ll cover the installation process for seven of the most common types of chimney cap styles:

  1. Bolt-on
  2. Multi-flue
  3. Band-around-brick
  4. Multi-fit
  5. Adjustable
  6. Slip-in
  7. Universal

By the time you’re finished with this guide, you’ll be able to identify what type of installation process your chimney cap requires, and you’ll have all the tools necessary to facilitate the installation of your own cap to keep your home protected.

Before You Install Your Chimney Cap…

Before installing your chimney cap, note that HY-C does not recommend climbing your own roof. Working on a roof is dangerous, and falling off your roof could result in serious bodily harm. Chimney cap installations are better left to roofing and chimney professionals; the content in this guide is strictly informational.

Note too that HY-C chimney caps come with all the hardware required for installation. Be sure your installer examines this hardware before installation to ensure they have the correct screwdrivers or drill bits for the job before ascending your roof.

How to Install a Bolt-on Chimney Cap

A HY-C bolt-on chimney cap installed on a chimney flue against a white background

Bolt-on, single-flue chimney caps are some of the most common stock chimney caps we sell. These caps can be square, rectangular, or round, and they come in many different sizes to accommodate a wide range of flue styles and dimensions.

The installation process for these caps is pretty straightforward. To start, make sure your cap has the right dimensions to match your flue tile. The five most common flue dimensions for square or rectangular flues include:

  • 9” x 9”
  • 9” x 13”
  • 13” x 13”
  • 13” x 18”
  • 18” x 18”

Most square or rectangular flues fall within these dimensions. Whether your flue fits within these sizes or it’s larger or smaller, be sure that the cap you buy is tailored to fit your flue (manufacturers offer information on which caps fit which flue sizes in their product catalog or on product description pages online).

Once you’ve ensured you have the correctly sized cap, just slide the cap over your flue and tighten the four bolts on the cap’s corners.

A close-up of the corner of a bolt-on chimney cap showing where the bolt screws into the chimney flue
Close-up of a rectangular bolt-on chimney cap attached to a flue

The bolts should not penetrate the chimney flue tile. To protect the flue, some bolt-on chimney caps include a metal ridge that rests between the bolt and the flue to protect the integrity of the flue tile while allowing the cap to connect securely.

Close-up of the protective metal ridge on a bolt-on chimney cap
Close-up of the protective metal ridge on a bolt-on chimney cap

If you have a round flue instead of a square or rectangular flue, there are bolt-on-style caps made for your chimney, too. The most common diameters for a round chimney flue include:

  • 8”
  • 10”
  • 12”
  • 14”
  • 16”

The installation process is identical for round chimney caps — just ensure your cap’s size is correct, slide the cap onto the flue, and tighten down the four bolts until the cap is secure.

Close-up of a black galvanized round bolt-on chimney cap attached to a chimney flue
Close-up of a round bolt-on chimney cap attached to a flue

How to Install a Multi-Flue Chimney Cap

A stainless steel multi-flue chimney cap installed on a chimney crown with foliage in the background

If your chimney has two or more flues on it, you have a couple of options: you can get a single-flue cap for each individual flue, or you could get one big cap that covers all the flues at once. These are called multi-flue chimney caps, and they’re installed quite a bit differently than bolt-on, single-flue caps.

For starters, multi-flue chimney caps don’t attach directly to the flues. Instead, they attach to the crown of a chimney — the concrete portion that seals the flue and the top layer of brick together.

In order to attach to the crown, multi-flue caps come with four 2” flanges that are attached perpendicularly to each of the cap’s four mesh screens. These flanges have holes in them to accommodate screws that go directly into the chimney’s crown.

A close-up of a multi-flue chimney cap's flanges with alternating pre-drilled screw holes
Close-up of a multi-flue chimney cap’s flanges

To start the installation process, set the cap on top of the crown, ensuring that the edge of each flange is at least one inch from the edge of the crown. If the flanges are too close to the end of the crown, the crown could crack when holes are drilled and screws are put in.

Once the cap is set in the right position, trace a line around the edges of the flange, and mark the hole positions for each masonry screw. The location of the screws can vary from crown to crown. Some crowns may require one screw in each flange, while others may work better with two screws on opposite flanges. Screw placement depends on how level (or unlevel) your cap is as it rests on the crown. Use your best judgment based upon how the cap is seated on the crown.

How Much Does a Chimney Cap Cost CTA

Once a line is traced around the flanges and the screw holes are marked, take the cap off, set it aside, and use a 3/16” drill bit to drill 1.5” holes into each mark. Brush away any loose material, and run a bead of adhesive (provided with the cap) about ½” inside the trace line you drew around the flanges.

From there, simply put the crown back in precisely the same spot along the traced line, applying pressure to seat the crown to the adhesive. Screw the masonry screws into the 1.5” holes to secure the cap in place, and the installation will be complete.

How to Install a Band-Around-Brick Chimney Cap

A HY-C band-around-brick chimney cap installed on a chimney on a white background

It’s easy to see how a band-around brick chimney cap gets its name: the band of metal on the bottom of the cap goes around the top layer of chimney brick, secured in place with nuts and bolts. Band-around-brick caps are versatile. They come in four sizes, each featuring 2” of adjustability, and they’re designed to fit chimneys with top layers of brick measuring:

  • 15.5” x 15.5” to 17.5” x 17.5” (square)
  • 16.5” x 16.5” to 18.5” x 18.5” (square)
  • 16.5” x 20.5” to 18.5” x 22.5” (rectangular)
  • 20.5” x 20.5” to 22.5” x 22.5” (square)

The installation process is pretty straightforward: once you have the correctly sized cap for your chimney’s dimensions, slide the cap’s band over the top layer of chimney brick. The magic of a band-around cap lies in its adjustable corner pieces, each secured by four nuts and four bolts.

A close-up of a band-around-brick chimney cap's corner pieces, secured by four nuts and four bolts
Close-up of a band-around-brick chimney cap’s corner pieces

Simply tighten the nuts and bolts on each of the four corners until the cap fits securely in place around the top layer of chimney brick. The cap is held in place solely by tension and pressure, requiring no drilling into the crown or brick.

How to Install a Multi-Fit Chimney Cap

A HY-C multi-fit chimney cap installed on a chimney flue against a white background

Multi-fit chimney caps provide a great deal of flexibility. These caps, designed to fit on a single chimney flue, are made for square, rectangular, and round flues. They come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The three sizes can fit chimneys with the following ranges of dimensions:

7″ x 7″ to 9.5″ x 9.5″ (square)11.5″ x 11.5″ to 13.5″ x 13.5″ (square)17.5″ x 17.5″ x 18.25″ x 18.25″ (square)
11.5″ x 11.5″ to 13.5″ x 13.5″ (square)11.5″ x 17″ to 13.5″ x 18.25″ (rectangular)13″ to 14.5″ (round)
7″ x 11.5″ to 9.5″ x 13.5″ (rectangular)7″ x 17.5″ to 9.5″ x 18.25″ (rectangular)16″ to 17″ (round)
9″ to 10″ (round)11.5″ x 12.5″ to 12.5″ x 16.5″ (rectangular)17.5″ to 18.25″ (round)
11.5″ to 12.5″ (round)

When you’ve found the appropriate size for your flue, the installation process begins with attaching the four braces to the top cover of the chimney cap. Be sure not to completely tighten the bolts yet.

A top-down view of the cover of a multi-fit chimney cap with four red arrows indicating the position of the bolt attachment points
Top-down view of a multi-fit chimney cap with four red arrows to indicate the brace attachment points

From there, the other ends of the braces clamp down onto the chimney flue tile by tightening the bolts. After the cap is securely attached to the flue tile, you may finally tighten the bolts protruding from the top cover of the chimney cap to complete the installation.

A close-up view of the braces of a multi-fit chimney cap attached to chimney flue tile and secured by a bolt
Close-up view of the braces of a multi-fit chimney cap attached to flue tile

How to Install an Adjustable Bolt-on Chimney Cap

A black galvanized adjustable bolt-on HY-C chimney cap installed on a chimney flue against a white background

Like multi-fit chimney caps, adjustable bolt-on chimney caps are also flexible. But the flue dimensions onto which they can fit are a bit more limited. These caps come only in sizes small and large, and they’re designed to fit flues with the following ranges of dimensions:

8″ x 8″ (square)13″ x 13″ (square)
9″ x 9″ (square)8″ x 17″ (rectangular)
12″ x 12″ (square)9″ x 18″ (rectangular)
13″ x 13″ (square)12″ x 16″ (rectangular)
8″ x 12″ (rectangular)13″ x 18″ (rectangular)
9″ x 13″ (rectangular)
8″ (round)
10″ (round)
12″ (round)

Adjustable bolt-on chimney caps are held together by four L-shaped braces, and the portion of each brace attached perpendicularly to the cap’s mesh has a slot in it. Those four slots each accommodate a U-shaped bracket that slides into the slot and twists to prevent it from falling out. The brackets can slide along the slots to fit multiple flue sizes.

A close-up view of an adjustable bolt-on chimney cap's U-shaped bracket and the slot on which it slides
Close-up view of an adjustable bolt-on cap’s U-shaped bracket and the slot it slides on

After sliding the U-shaped brackets to fit your specific flue size, just slip the brackets onto the flue tile and tighten the bolts. After the cap is secure, the installation is complete.

How to Install a Slip-in Chimney Cap

A HY-C slip-in chimney cap installed on a chimney flue against a white background

A slip-in chimney cap is likely the easiest kind of chimney cap to install. Perhaps the most difficult part of the process is making sure you have the correct cap to fit your flue’s dimensions. Slip-in caps come with about an inch of wiggle-room; they’re designed for round flues and made to fit within the following diameter ranges:

  • 9.5” to 10.5”
  • 11.5” to 12.5”
  • 13.5” to 14.5”
  • 15.5” to 16.5”
  • 17.5” to 18.5”

There’s not much to the installation process. These caps require no hardware or tools. All you have to do is slip it into the flue tile, and the angle of the legs, combined with tension from their tendency to bend, hold the cap firmly in place.

A close-up view of the legs of a slip-in chimney cap
Close-up view of the legs of a slip-in chimney cap

How to Install a Universal Chimney Cap

A HY-C universal chimney cap installed on a chimney flue against a white background

Universal chimney caps come in two different sizes:

  • 13” x 13” (screen-to-screen) (square)
  • 13” x 20” (screen-to-screen) (square)

They’re designed to fit chimney flues with those specific dimensions, and they feature a unique inside anchoring system for their installation process. The mesh screen of these caps tucks in at a 90° towards the chimney flue. To start the installation process for a universal chimney cap, simply unscrew the wing nuts at the top of the cap and remove the top cover.

A close-up of the anchoring system of a universal chimney cap installed inside a chimney flue
Close-up view of the inside anchoring system of a universal chimney cap

Next, set the cap on the flue so its mesh hangs over the edge of the flue. From there, slide the V-shaped anchoring bar down into the chimney, ensuring that both ends of the anchor touch the walls of the flue. Next, set the cap’s straight metal bar on the mesh perpendicular to the V-shaped anchor.

Slide the top of the anchor bar through one of the three holes in the straight metal bar (whichever hole it lines up with best), and thread the wing nut onto the anchor bar. Tightening the wing nut will create tension between the V-shaped anchor, the metal bar, and the chimney cap’s mesh. Once the apparatus is secure, reattach the cap’s cover, and the installation will be complete.

What if Your Flue or Chimney Can’t Accommodate These Chimney Caps?

At the beginning of this article, you likely had no idea how to install your chimney cap (or even which installation style your cap was made with). By now, you should know the ins and outs of which kind of cap you have and how to install it onto your flue.

Some homeowners may find, though, that their flue (or the entire chimney, depending on what kind of cap you have) doesn’t fit within the dimensions of any of the seven caps described above. If that’s the case for you, it’s possible that you need a custom chimney cap.

If you find that you need a chimney cap that doesn’t fit common chimney dimensions, you’re in luck — HY-C manufactures three different varieties of custom chimney caps. And whether a standard installation works for you or you need something with a more specialized touch, we’re happy to work with you to make sure your chimney is covered and your home is secure.

What Kind of Custom Chimney Caps Does HY-C Offer CTA
Firewood burning with a roaring flame

Wood Burning Furnaces: Best Burn Practices

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of details when thinking about wood furnaces. People tend to wonder, “How do I know which one to get? When I do find one, how am I going to install it? How do I connect it to my ductwork? How do I clean and maintain it over time?”

And those are all important questions. But perhaps the most important question that you should keep front and center in your head is, “How should I be burning wood in my furnace?

Wood burning is as much an art as it is a science. We should know; we manufacture an EPA-approved furnace, and the process of getting a wood burning appliance approved by the Environmental Protection Agency includes plenty of burn tests. From the kind of wood you should use to the process of keeping a fire burning, there’s a lot that goes into good burn practices. And that’s exactly what we want to teach you about.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to burn wood in your wood burning furnace the right way. We’ll teach you about moisture content, firewood storage, and starting and maintaining a fire so you can get the best out of your wood furnace.

How to Season Firewood for Your Wood Furnace

A close-up of a stack of seasoned firewood

Before even putting wood into your furnace, you have to make sure you have the right kind of firewood. In some cases, 50% or more of the weight of a piece of firewood may be water, which doesn’t exactly translate into a good burn.

Firewood burned in a furnace should contain 20% moisture or less — a measurement you can ascertain from a moisture meter. But how can you reduce the amount of moisture in your firewood? The answer is a process called seasoning, and it involves four steps:

  1. Splitting firewood
  2. Stacking firewood
  3. Covering firewood
  4. Storing firewood

Splitting Firewood

Picture a cylindrical piece of a tree trunk or branch that’s about 16” high and 12” in diameter. It’s not a good idea to try to burn this piece of wood. It’s too bulky, and it may contain too much moisture. It’s best to split that wood into four (or more) pieces to help it dry out quickly and burn more easily.

In most cases, when you buy firewood it will already be split. But whether you’re buying wood or you plan to split it yourself, you should be looking to wind up with logs that are about 12” to 16” long and about 4” to 6” in width.

Stacking Firewood

The best and most efficient way to organize your firewood is to stack it. But it’s not a good idea to stack firewood on the ground; it will gather moisture, which defeats the purpose of the seasoning process.

Instead, buy (or make) a log rack. They allow you to store firewood neatly, and the bottom of the rack rests a few inches above the ground, preventing moisture from finding its way to the logs you’re trying to season.

Covering Firewood

In order to season your firewood effectively, you need to cover it with either a sheet of metal, some plywood, or a tarp to protect it from rain or snow. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s best only to cover the top of the logs, leaving the sides uncovered.

Covering the sides of the logs on your rack may actually cause moisture build up on them, slowing the seasoning process. Instead, leave the sides open to promote airflow to your firewood. Also, be sure to angle your cover in such a way that allows precipitation to run off and fall to the ground (instead of pooling on top of the cover).

Storing Firewood

After you’ve split, stacked, and covered your wood, the rest is simply a waiting game. Over time, the moisture will evaporate from the wood, bringing you below the 20% threshold. Then your firewood will be ready to burn.

Generally, there are two types of wood you can season and burn in a furnace: softwoods (like cedar, pine, spruce, or juniper) and hardwoods (like oak, hickory, maple, or birch). The length of time it takes to season each type of wood varies:

  • Softwoods need to be stored for at least 6 months
  • Hardwoods need to be stored for 12 months or more

Plan accordingly and start seasoning your winter firewood in the spring. The longer the wood is allowed to season, the more cleanly and efficiently it will burn.

How to Start a Fire in Your Wood Furnace

Close-up of a smoldering fire that's starting to die down

After you have a good supply of well-seasoned firewood whose moisture content is under 20%, you’ll be ready to fire up your wood burning furnace.

If you’ve ever made a campfire, the process of starting a fire in a furnace is similar. Start with some kindling (e.g., dry twigs, newspaper, etc.) and get a small fire going. Starting small allows your furnace’s flue to warm up, which promotes a good draft and helps to alleviate creosote buildup.

As the kindling burns, add some medium-sized pieces of seasoned wood to get the fire growing bigger. It’s helpful to keep the furnace’s door open to allow in a bit of air to get the fire going (or if your furnace has a draft blower, you can turn that on to promote airflow). If you do open the door to allow air in, do not leave the open door unattended.

Keep adding bigger and bigger pieces of seasoned wood until the fire takes hold and encompasses the furnace’s firebox.

How to Maintain a Fire in a Wood Furnace

Close-up of a healthily burning, roaring fire

After you get a fire going and the wood fuel burns up, the fire will inevitably diminish (a process that depends on the size of your furnace’s firebox, the type of wood you use, how well-seasoned it is, how much air is getting to the fire, and other factors). As the flames begin to dim, it’s important to stoke them to make sure the furnace continues to put off heat.

To start with, when adding more wood to the fire, open your furnace door slowly to prevent smoke from spilling out. From there, use appropriate hearth tools (like a shovel or fire poker) to spread the coals around.

Don’t put new firewood directly on top of the coals. Instead, push the coals to the perimeter of the firebox and put new wood in the middle. Doing this will promote better airflow and speed up the combustion process. Put the split end of the firewood (i.e., the end opposite the bark) toward the coals. It will catch fire more easily.

Be sure not to overload the firebox with firewood. If there’s too much wood, the fire will smolder, provide less heat, and create too much smoke due to a lack of airflow. Instead, spread logs out, allowing the oxygen coming into the furnace to move freely and feed the fire. If your fire needs a boost, turn your draft blower on to supply it with a bit more air.

How to Remove Ashes from Your Wood Furnace

A bucket full of ashes from an extinguished fire with a small black shovel in it

Wood burning furnaces come with two doors on the front of them — a larger door that leads to the firebox, and a smaller door that leads to the ash pan. Firewood burned in the firebox disintegrates into ashes, which fall through the grate and into the ash pan. After using your furnace for a while, this ash pan will fill up and need to be cleaned.

Wait for your fire to simmer down a bit, and open the door to the ash pan. Scoop the ashes out, and dump them into a metal container away from flammable material. After closing and sealing the ash pan door, allow the ashes in the metal container to cool off. Be absolutely certain the ashes have cooled off completely before you dispose of them!

The four best wood burning furnaces on the market today CTA

Why You Should Follow Good Burn Practices

Wood burning furnaces are complex machines. Like engines, their designs are intricate and intentional, and they rely on a combination of engineering, chemistry, and physics to work their magic. Also like an engine, improper operation of a furnace poses a very real risk of injury or damage to property.

Not following good burn practices can lead to excess smoke in your home, the buildup of ultra-flammable creosote in your chimney flue, or even something as simple (yet dangerous) as a hot coal falling out of the furnace door and starting a fire.

It’s not hard to prevent these dangers, either. Use seasoned wood, be cautious when your furnace’s door is open, and dispose of ashes properly. If you follow good burn practices, you’ll be able to heat your home while keeping everyone in it safe.

Rendered image of an Ignite Tech wood burning furnace sitting in an empty factory with cords of wood in the background

Ignite Tech Furnace Buying Guide

Whether you’re interested in saving some money or moving away from your natural gas, oil, or electric furnace, there are plenty of great reasons to heat your business with a wood burning furnace. At HY-C, we manufacture two commercial wood furnaces under the Ignite Tech name: the HD90X outdoor furnace, and the HD80 indoor furnace.

Due to recent legal and regulatory changes mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, manufacturers have to differentiate between residential and commercial wood burning furnaces.

This has placed some limits on the furnace models that homeowners can purchase and made the process of buying a commercial furnace a bit more confusing for businesses. So we’re here to help you navigate that process.

In this guide, we’ll lay out everything business owners need to know about purchasing an Ignite Tech furnace, from proof of business ownership to the payment methods you can use for your purchase.

By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll know everything you need to buy an Ignite Tech for your business, and you’ll have all the tools you need to get started.

Who Can Buy an Ignite Tech Furnace?

An outdoor Ignite Tech furnace sitting on a concrete slab outside of a commercial building with a cord of wood sitting next to it

Ignite Tech furnaces fall into the commercial furnace category (as opposed to the residential furnace category). As a result of the new EPA regulations, only full-time commercial businesses are qualified to purchase an Ignite Tech furnace. That doesn’t mean you need to be a big, Fortune 500 company to buy one, though.

Some of our most common buyers include farmers and ranchers. The agricultural business lends itself well to wood heating products, and a lot of times, folks who run these businesses may not even realize they’re qualified to purchase an Ignite Tech. They are, though — as long as they can provide proof of ownership of their business.

How Do You Prove You’re Qualified to Buy an Ignite Tech Furnace?

It’s important that a furnace designed for commercial use is only used in business operations. As such, manufacturers like us are required to collect proof that our buyers do, in fact, own a business. Some of the most common documents used to prove business ownership include:

Really any official, legal agreement, license, or certificate that demonstrates ownership of a business will suffice. But, in the majority of cases, just one of these five documents will be enough to move forward with your Ignite Tech purchase. If you have any questions about additional documents, reach out to us. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

How Do You Get a Quote for Your Ignite Tech Furnace?

After you’ve provided proof of ownership of your business, the next step in the buying process is to get your quote. This itemized list will spell out the cost of your purchase line by line, and includes some (or all) of the following (depending on what you want):

  • The price of your furnace(s)
  • The cost of freight
  • The sales tax
  • Additional purchases

The Ignite Tech furnaces will cost the same for every business: the HD80 indoor furnace costs $4,399, and the HD90X outdoor furnace costs $4,999. The biggest variation you’ll see in price will be found in the cost of freight.

At HY-C, we bid on shipping costs to ensure we get you the best possible value. This process is based on your location relative to ours (we’re in St. Louis, Missouri), and is calculated by the folks in our shipping department. Once they’ve found you the best possible freight cost, it will be added to your quote.

Next up is the sales tax. The amount you’ll owe in sales tax is based on the state to which the furnace is being shipped. Once we understand where we’re sending a furnace, we’ll add the amount owed in sales tax to the quote based on that state’s sales tax rate.

Finally, if there are any additional purchases you’d like to make while you’re buying your furnace, we’ll add those to the quote as well. We offer log racks, storm collars, stainless steel chimney pipe, galvanized steel elbows, and more accessories to make the installation process of your furnace simpler.

Once we know which furnace you’re ordering, your shipping costs, your sales tax, and any accessories you’d like to add to your purchase, we’ll put together a final quote and send it your way.

How to Pay for Your Ignite Tech Furnace

Four checkbooks stacked haphazardly on top of each other on a wooden table

After your quote’s been finalized and you know the total price of your furnace, we take that quote and turn it into your order. This way, nothing changes between the quote and the order price, and you know exactly what you’ll pay for your furnace.

There are two payment methods you can use to pay for your Ignite Tech: a credit card or a check.

A credit card is quick and easy — all you have to do is call into HY-C customer service and give them your card number. From there, they’ll place the order for you.

The other option is to pay by check. In this case, you’ll mail a check matching the price of your quote to our office. You should be aware that paying by check takes about a week longer than paying by credit card.

After you’ve mailed your check, we’ll wait until we receive the check. When the check clears, we’ll put the order in, and get your furnace shipped out in two to three days.

What We Offer after Your Ignite Tech Furnace Arrives

Our relationship with you doesn’t end after we’ve received your money and you’ve received your furnace. We’ll remain available to you and your business for the lifetime of your furnace. Whether you need help with installation, you require assistance in troubleshooting your draft inducer blower, you’ve run into electrical complications, or you have an issue with your thermostat, we’re here to help.

If you’re interested in purchasing an Ignite Tech furnace for your business, get in touch with our customer service team. You can reach us online, or you can call toll-free at 1-800-325-7076. Just ask about buying an Ignite Tech. We’ll be happy to put you in contact with our sales team to get the process going. And, with this guide in hand, you’ll know exactly what that process is going to look like, ensuring it moves quickly and goes smoothly.

Mouse caught in a humane moustrap

How Do You Keep Pests Out of Your Home?

Most of us have been in this situation: some kind of pest — whether it’s a bug, a four-legged animal, or a bird — gets into your living space. You want it out of there as quickly as possible. An unwelcome spider, squirrel, or robin raises some uneasy questions, too — “How did it get in? Will more get in while I’m sleeping? Are there other critters hiding somewhere in my home right now?”

One of the best ways to avoid this mess is to prevent it from happening in the first place. At HY-C, we manufacture a line of guards and screens to do just that: keep animals and insects out before they can even get in. We’ve learned a lot about pest control while developing those products, and we want to share what we’ve learned with you.

By the time you’re done with this guide, you’ll have a grasp on some tried-and-true preventative methods of keeping pests of all shapes and sizes out of your home. And if by the end you’re interested in installing some preventative wildlife control devices on your home, we’ll show you where you can get started.

Exclude Pests with Pest Barriers

Man installing a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION foundation screen with a yellow drill

Pests get into your home the same way you do: they walk (or crawl or fly) through an opening. They like to get in for the same reasons as you, too — your house is warm, quiet, and offers protection from the outside world. If you want to keep the animals and insects out, you have to close (and lock) the door.

But not just the front door (although that helps). Most homes have some common openings on them that critters like to get into. These openings are necessary because they help to keep your home properly ventilated, but they are also the most likely source of a pest invasion. That’s why we created HY-GUARD EXCLUSION — to allow these openings to vent properly while keeping pests out at the same time.

Here are some of the most common home vents vulnerable to penetration from pests:

  • Chimneys
  • Roof vents
  • Soffit vents
  • Wall vents
  • Foundations

With pest barriers, you can cover these vents while maintaining their proper function. As long as the barriers you install are made from solid materials (like stainless or galvanized steel), they should hold up well in the long term.

Exclude Pests with Proper Home Maintenance

Caulk being applied between drywall and wall tile

From ants to bears, pests of any size have one thing in common: they find ways to get in. They’re crafty and determined, and unless you keep your home in tip-top shape, you’re always vulnerable to their presence.

Thankfully, though, pest entry points as a result of home damage are relatively well-known and consistent in their location, and we cover them below. All you need to do is check your house for holes and cracks, and repair them if you happen to find any.

Make Sure Pest Barriers Aren’t Damaged

If you decide to install pest exclusion screens and guards on your house, be sure to check them for damage every now and again. These products are usually made of metal and bolted onto your house with screws, acting as a strong deterrent to most curious critters.

Still, if they become damaged in any way (maybe by a strong storm or a particularly persistent animal), even the smallest opening can lead to a pest getting in. This will wear down an even larger opening, allowing bigger and bigger critters to invade over time. Stop this cycle in advance by ensuring your pest barriers remain tightly secure and damage-free.

Keep Siding, Masonry, and Windowsills in Good Shape

How often do you inspect your home’s siding? How often do you check for cracks in your brick? Do you spend much time looking at your window sills? Because these areas of a home tend to receive little to no attention, they’re prime spots for unnoticed deterioration.

Again, critters are crafty. They’ll discover these openings and set up camp in your house, potentially without you even noticing. Repair these areas before they become a problem. Make sure your siding is secure. Fill in any cracks in your brick (or hire a professional if you can’t do it yourself). Use sealant to close any gaps in your window sill. Make it impossible for animals or bugs to get in in the first place.

Inspect for Pest-Created Entry Points

Brick, siding, and windowsills tend to develop wear and tear over time. Pests discover these entry points on their own and just climb on through. In other instances, though, a determined pest will create their own entry point by clawing or chewing their way through your walls.

These entry points are easy to spot. The hole will look uneven and hastily made, as the critter is much more concerned with gaining entry than the aesthetics of the entryway itself. There may be animal droppings nearby or, if the hole is new enough, you may find dust or chunks of drywall, wood, or siding on the ground.

If you discover one of these animal-made holes in your house, you’ll have to contact a pest control professional to remove the critter and maybe even a contractor to repair the damage (though many wildlife and pest control professionals offer both removal and repair as part of their service packages).

Exclude Pests by Creating a Buffer Zone

A two-story house with a tall layer of shrubs around the perimeter

Whether you know it or not, oftentimes, when pests get onto your property or into your home, it’s because you’ve made it attractive for them to be there. Obviously this is most often done unintentionally. But either way, it’s vital to understand what attracts pests to your yard and home so you can start doing the exact opposite of those things.

Keep Vegetation Maintained

Pests love vegetation. From insects to animals, trees, bushes, and plants offer a source of protection and, in some cases, food. People like vegetation, too. We like trees in our yards, plants and bushes in our landscaping, and flowers in our houses and on our porches. Sometimes our shared love of foliage brings people and animals together in exactly the spots we don’t want.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t have nice landscaping if you want to avoid pests? No, of course not. But it does mean that you should keep your vegetation trimmed and, if possible, a good distance from your house. Don’t let critters use your hedges as a stepping stone to your front door.

Keep Your Lawn Maintained

Vegetation isn’t the only thing critters like to eat. Opossums, swallows, bats, and spiders all love to feast on bugs. And a lawn that isn’t properly maintained can create a breeding ground for a diverse number of insects. These bugs will bring bigger critters right to your yard to start feasting, creating a robust (and invasive) ecosystem.

The best way to prevent this food chain from developing is to get rid of the bugs through proper lawn maintenance. This includes planting grass that is native to your local area, mowing every seven to ten days, and aerating your lawn at least once a year. If you eliminate (or at least deter) insects, the larger critters will find your lawn less appealing.

Properly Dispose of Trash

We’ve all heard stories or seen pictures of raccoons rollicking in a trash can. They’re attracted to the smell of garbage, and they enjoy the easily accessible free food. And they’re not the only trash-loving animals out there; skunks, rats, squirrels, and opossums love digging through waste bins, too. Your week-old leftovers are their feast.

This problem is pretty easy to solve. Be sure all of your trash is in a tightly sealed bag to prevent the smell from wafting around. Make sure all the trash actually ends up in the trash can. That seems intuitive, but one misplaced apple core can lead critters to discovering the rest of your trash bin (and they’ll be sure to come back for seconds). If things get really bad, you can always install a lock on your trash can’s lid.

How Do You Secure Your Home Against Pests?

The thought of an unwelcome pest in the home can be scary. They can get in at any time if your home isn’t protected. By now, you should have a good understanding of what it takes to keep critters out of the house. Creating a buffer zone against pests and keeping your home properly maintained are relatively easy and effective if done consistently.

One of the best ways to keep pests out, though, is turning your home into a fortress. Pest barriers, when installed correctly, help you cover all your bases (quite literally), deterring animals in the least, and outright foiling their efforts to gain entry at best.

If you want to learn more about exclusion caps, screens, and guards, HY-GUARD EXCLUSION is an excellent place to start. These HY-C-created barriers cover the most common pest entry points, excluding pests from homes — top to bottom. They’re one of the many strong tools in your wildlife control toolbox that will help keep your home secure and pest-free.

Next Page »