5 Signs It’s Time for a Chimney Cap Replacement

A rusty old round chimney cap on top of a circular flue tile on a concrete chimney crown

5 Signs It’s Time for a Chimney Cap Replacement

Chimney caps are meant to last a long time, but they certainly don’t last forever. While it’s not uncommon to get 50 years or more out of a chimney cap, they’re just like any other part of your home: eventually, they’ll need to be repaired or, more likely, replaced.

But how do you know when it’s time for a new chimney cap? What should you look out for?

At HY-C, we’ve manufactured well over a million chimney caps in the past few years. We’ve seen it all. From storm damage and wear and tear to defacements caused by raccoons, bats, or squirrels, we know what it looks like when an old cap finally reaches the end of its days.

In this guide, we’re going to cover the five signs to look for to know when it’s time to replace your chimney cap. By the time you’re done, you’ll know how to inspect your chimney cap for damage and how to determine when it’s time to pull the trigger on a new one.

We’ll even provide some resources to help you find a new cap if your old one isn’t up to par anymore.

1. You Don’t Have a Chimney Cap

A model of a brick chimney, concrete chimney crown, and square flue tile sitting on a concrete floor with a gray wall in the background

In the IT world, the most basic question is, “Is your computer turned on?” In the world of chimney caps, the most basic question is, “Does your flue currently even have a cap?”

It may seem rudimentary, but next time you’re out in your neighborhood, take a peek at some of the chimneys on your neighbors’ roofs. You may be surprised by just how many chimneys out there don’t have any kind of cap or cover over their flue tile.

Not having a chimney cap can lead to quite a few problems:

  • Rain, sleet, snow, hail, and other precipitation will get in your fireplace
  • Raccoons, squirrels, bats, and other critters will get in your chimney
  • Sparks from your fireplace could float out and cause a fire

If you have a fireplace and chimney and you don’t have a chimney cap, we’d strongly encourage you to install one soon to mitigate these issues. A good chimney cap doesn’t cost much, and it can save you from a lot of future frustration and repairs.

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2. Your Chimney Cap Is Missing Key Features

A multi-flue chimney cap with no mesh sides installed on a chimney with the home's roof and neighborhood in the background

Like any other industry, chimney caps have evolved over time. Research and development have led to improvements that offer homeowners better protection and more long term peace of mind.

If you have an older cap, check to see if it has wire mesh on the sides. Some older caps don’t. These meshless caps still include a cover (or hood) to keep precipitation out, but animals can still access the flue(s) and get into your chimney.

If your cap doesn’t have mesh sides, it’s very wise to get a new cap that does.

Some newer caps also have a removable hood on them. This makes it easier to clean your chimney. If your current cap’s hood is not removable, upgrading to a new cap with a removable hood will make cleaning your flue a breeze.

3. Your Chimney Cap Is Rusty

A rusty, round chimney cap installed on a round chimney flue with trees in teh background

Nowadays, chimney caps are made of robust materials like stainless steel, galvanized steel, or copper. These strong metals resist rust and corrosion, helping to maintain the structural integrity of the cap.

Old chimney caps or caps made from subpar materials may be susceptible to rust. Rusted chimney caps are brittle. They can be damaged much more easily. Nuisance wildlife looking for a safe spot can take advantage of these vulnerable caps, too, breaking through them and setting up camp.

If your chimney cap is rusty, you should replace it as quickly as possible. A new, rust-free cap is a relatively small investment that will pay off well over time.

4. Your Chimney Cap Is Damaged

A close-up of a round chimney cap band installed on a flue tile with torn mesh screen over the flue pipe

A chimney cap may become damaged for several reasons:

  • Animals may chew through it or bend it
  • Strong winds may deform it (or blow it off entirely)
  • Broken tree limbs may land on it and compress it
  • General weathering/wear and tear may cause it to deteriorate

If a chimney cap is bent, smashed, or contorted in any way, it should be replaced as soon as possible. The hood of a chimney cap needs to be high enough above the flue tile to allow for a good draft. If it isn’t (because the cap is damaged), fireplace gasses (like smoke or carbon monoxide) could blow back into your home.

If a chimney cap’s mesh is broken or bent, that cap will need to be replaced, too. Wildlife constantly looks for ways to exploit openings in homes. Even the slightest deformity in a chimney cap’s mesh could give a bat or squirrel that little bit of extra room they need to get in.

5. Your Cap Doesn’t Match Your Home’s Aesthetics

A square copper chimney cap, square stainless steel chimney cap, and square black chimney cap side by side on a white background

Chimney caps are available in a few different colors, most commonly stainless steel, black, and copper. Each of these three colors can either compliment or clash with the aesthetic of the rest of your home. If your current cap’s color isn’t to your liking, that’s as good a reason as any to replace it.

Maybe you recently had your roof redone and have different-colored shingles now. Maybe you just had your brick or siding painted. Whatever the case, if you make any major changes to the exterior style of your home, it’s a good idea to get a chimney cap that matches that style, too.

What if You Need a New Chimney Cap?

As you can tell by now, there are plenty of reasons why you may need a new chimney cap. From simply not having a cap in the first place to incurring damage to your existing cap, it’s important to make sure your chimney and flue are properly protected.

So, you know the diagnoses now. But what if your chimney cap does need replacing?

The best place to start is finding the right size chimney cap for your flue. Whether you have a square flue, a rectangular flue, or a round flue, most shapes have a wide range of sizes to choose from. You may even want to get a custom chimney cap made just for your house.

After you’ve found the right cap, the next step is to install it. After that’s done — and barring any major weather events or ornery critters in your area — your new cap should keep you well protected for years to come.

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A racoon poking out of a gable attic vent on the side of a house with white siding

How to Deal with an Animal in Your Attic

Having an animal (or multiple animals) in your attic is an unpleasant experience. They make noise at all hours of the day and night, they break things, they leave waste behind, and — maybe worst of all — they can get out of the attic and into the rest of your home.

Whether you’re a new homeowner or a veteran homeowner, it can feel overwhelming when a wild animal finds its way into your living space.

You’re left asking questions like, “How did it get in? How many are up there? How do I go about getting them out of my home?”

We know how stressful the experience can be. At HY-C, we manufacture HY-GUARD EXCLUSION, a robust line of covers and guards designed to keep animals out of homes. We understand a lot about how animals invade houses, and we want to tell you exactly how to deal with them so you don’t have to worry.

In this guide, we’ll cover what kind of animals tend to get into attics and how they get in. We’ll also tell you how to get them out and, just as importantly, how to keep them out.

By the time you’re done here, you’ll have all the information you need to get — and keep — critters out of your attic.

What Kinds of Animals Get into Attics?

A colony of a few dozen bats hanging upside down on a rock surface

In short, just about anything. Any seasoned wildlife control operator can share horror stories about animals from across the spectrum getting into attics. But some are more common than others.

The animals that tend to find their way into attics most often include:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Red squirrels
  • Gray squirrels
  • Flying squirrels
  • Raccoons
  • Bats

The animals to which your attic is most vulnerable may vary depending on where you live, what the weather is like there, and a number of other environmental factors.

How Do Animals Get into an Attic?

Which animals get in is pretty straightforward; how they get in is a bit more of a complex topic. Houses need ventilation to keep air circulating properly. Vents allow for this airflow, but they also leave vulnerable openings for critters to exploit.

Animals may get in simply through damaged sections of a home; a mouse can squeeze into a hole in a roof just a little wider than the width of a pencil.

That said, there are four common entry points animals use to get into attics:

  1. Dormers
  2. Gable vents
  3. Ridge vents
  4. Static roof vents


A steep roof with dark brown terracotta shingles with two white dormers sticking out against the background of a blue sky

Dormers jut out from a roof. They’re walled structures that contain a window and an overhang above that window. As animals (like mice, rats, or squirrels) find their way onto roofs, they notice that this overhang provides overhead protection from flying predators.

Most overhangs on these dormers aren’t sealed completely tightly. As critters take cover in the dormer, they notice vulnerable openings and either squeeze or chew their way through. From there, they gain access to the attic.

Gable Vents

A half-circle gable vent against gray siding and a pointed roof with a blue sky in the background

Gable vents are vital for attic ventilation. They allow air to flow in one side and out the other, avoiding stagnation and dissipating heat buildup on hot summer days.

They’re also a vulnerable entry point for animals to get into an attic, though. Most gable vents are made from relatively flimsy materials that animals can just push right past. Some have screens on the inside that do help keep bugs out, but these screens won’t do much to stop a determined raccoon.

Ridge Vents

Ridge vents on a roof with gray shingles and a suburban neighborhood in the background

Ridge vents exist for the same reason gable vents do: they help facilitate proper attic ventilation. As with gable vents, though, ventilation means openings, and openings mean critters can find their way in.

These vents are located at the peak of the roof, and they’re arguably one of the easiest entry points for wildlife to get into an attic. As the roof settles over time and seasonal temperature swings cause the roof to expand in the heat and contract in the cold, the vents warp, allowing in animals.

Static Vents

A close-up of a black, static roof vent protruding from a roof with gray shingles

Static roof vents come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: like gable vents and ridge vents, they provide additional airflow to an attic. Most of them are created with some form of animal exclusion in mind, but the level of protection tends to be minimal.

Static vents tend to be made of weak materials like aluminum that won’t offer enough protection against chewing from squirrels, mice, rats, or raccoons. Like gable vents, they also have bug screen installed in a lot of cases and, like gable vents, they just can’t stop animals from getting in.

Signs of Animals in Your Attic

Some signs of animals having invaded an attic will be obvious, but others are a bit more subtle than you may expect. When it comes to determining whether or not you have an attic full of critters, there tend to be two ways to tell: looking and listening.

Detecting Animals in an Attic by Sound

Different animals make different noises in an attic. A mouse makes different sounds than a squirrel; a raccoon makes different noises than a bat. Listening for animals above your ceiling is a bit like diagnosing a car with engine trouble — the type of noise gives clues as to the type of animal that may be up there.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of some sounds to look out for:

  • Heavy thumping (like someone dragging suitcases around above you) may indicate raccoons
  • Skittering or scratching all day and night may indicate mice
  • A flurry of scratching only at dusk and dawn may indicate flying squirrels
  • Scampering sounds on and off throughout the day (and not at night) may indicate red squirrels

Pay attention to the type of noise you hear, the time of day (or night) at which it occurs, and how frequently you hear it. Relay this information to a wildlife control operator.

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Detecting Animals in an Attic Visually

Obviously if you poke your head up into your attic and see an animal, that’s confirmation enough. But even if they’re hiding up there, there are some things you can look out for that may indicate the presence of a critter.

Check the entry points listed above (dormers, gable vents, ridge vents, and static vents) for signs of damage or chewing. Damaged vents are a good indicator that a critter may have forced their way in.

You may also inspect these areas for trails of discoloration. Animals are dirty; their fur is oily, and they tend to track feces behind them. A stain near a hole in a vent is a pretty good bet that something with four legs has been coming and going.

Finally, you can peek up into your attic and check the insulation. If it’s disturbed, discolored, or you see animal feces, there’s a good chance that one’s been nesting up there.

What to Do if There Is an Animal in Your Attic

A gray squirrel standing on its hind legs on a stack of wooden boards with a gray tarp hanging in the background

If you’re hearing noises above your ceiling, your roof vents are damaged, or you see any other signs of an animal’s presence in your attic, there are four things you should do immediately to take care of the problem:

  1. Call a wildlife control operator. These professionals are well-versed in local animal laws and the habits of critters in your area. They know exactly what is needed to diagnose which animal is in your house and how to remove it.
  2. Repair any damage to your home. You’ll have to fix any damage the critters may have caused in your attic, but you’ll also need to fix the damage to the entry point those critters used to get in there in the first place (or else they’ll just come right back).
  3. Add exclusion devices to the entry point the animal used. Repairing the damage is a start, but if you really want to keep critters out, you’ll have to add additional exclusion protection to your roof vents.
  4. Add exclusion devices to any other potential entry points. Covering just the initial entry point won’t be enough. Animals have a strong sense of smell, and they’ll know that other critters called your attic home at one point. They’ll want to move in themselves.

How Do You Keep Animals Out of Your Attic?

A critter invading your attic is an unsettling thought. Animals wreak havoc, carry diseases, and even multiply, causing even more damage.

By now, though, you know what kind of animals tend to invade attics, how they get in, how to look and listen for them, and even what to do if you wind up with a critter in your living space.

As with most things in life, preventing problems is often a lot easier than having to fix them. If you want to get ahead of animals invading your attic, consider adding some kind of wildlife exclusion devices to your home. The best part is that these devices aren’t limited just to roofs and attics; they’re designed to keep pests out of any of the vulnerable spots on your home.

In most cases, a seasoned wildlife control operator can install them, covering everything from your chimney to your foundation to your dryer vent. Wildlife exclusion devices aren’t necessarily the most fun or exciting purchase, but they will go a long way toward saving you costly, frustrating headaches down the road.

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A Flame Genie smokeless pellet fire pit in the foreground resting on a rock ledge next to a gravel road at dusk with a white house in the background

How Does a Smokeless Fire Pit Work?

A fire pit provides a warm, cozy way to relax outdoors during the fall and winter months. But as enjoyable and welcoming as they are, fire pits have a major problem that you’ve probably experienced yourself: smoke from the fire can become overwhelming, irritating you during what should be a relaxing experience.

Smokeless fire pits solve this problem, eliminating the obnoxious fumes and allowing for a much better outdoor experience.

But have you ever wondered how a smokeless fire pit works its magic?

As the manufacturers of Flame Genie smokeless pellet fire pits, we’re well aware of what makes a smokeless fire pit work — how fuel and design combine to offer a pleasant, smoke-free experience. And we want to share what we know with you.

By the time you’re done here, you’ll understand how a smokeless fire pit works and, armed with that knowledge, you’ll be able to decide whether or not you should get one for yourself.

Wood Pellets

Two cupped hands holding a pile of wood pellets against a white background

Every fire needs fuel, and in a smokeless fire pit, wood pellets are the fuel of choice. But how does burning wood pellets instead of logs help eliminate smoke? The answer lies in the moisture content of both fuels.

Logs may have more water in them than you might expect. A freshly cut, unseasoned log could contain up to 50% of its weight in water. Smoke from a fire is a result of this moisture content; the more water in the log, the more smoke it will produce. That’s why veteran wood burners follow good burn practices and allow their logs to season for at least six months.

Wood pellets are made of compressed sawdust and held together by lignin (an organic material found in wood). Unlike a log, these wood pellets contain virtually no moisture in them, allowing for a highly efficient, smoke-free burn.

Smokeless Fire Pit Design

The lack of moisture content in wood pellets helps to reduce or even eliminate smoke, but that’s not the whole story. The design of the fire pit itself also plays a hand in keeping the environment smoke-free — particularly the airflow system.

The Flame Genie, as an example, is divided into two pieces: the upper portion in which the fire burns, and the lower portion which catches ashes as the pellets burn up. The upper portion is made of a hollow cylinder with an outer wall and an inner wall.

A Flame Genie smokeless fire pit with a cutout demonstrating where cool air enters and warm air exits the secondary combustion chamber

As the fire burns in the fire pit, cool air from the outside enters through two spots: holes in the lower portion and holes in the upper portion.

The air entering through the lower portion rises up through the pellets, providing oxygen to the fire. The air entering through the upper portion rises through the hollow cylinder and heats up. This superheated air exits through the inner wall of the upper chamber and interacts with gasses from the burning pellets.

A looping GIF showing a smokeless fire pit in use on a garden patio with mulch landscaping in the background

When the gasses from the pellets meet the superheated air, they catch fire, resulting in a secondary combustion. If everything is functioning properly, there will be flames coming from two locations: the pile of pellets, and the airflow holes in the top of the fire pit.

Do Smokeless Fire Pits Really Work?

Four Flame Genie smokeless pellet fire pits by a pool with a family sitting on patio furniture in the background

In short, yes! The combination of the airflow design and the pellet fuel work together to produce a truly smokeless fire that provides plenty of warmth and a great ambiance. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t caveats to consider, though.

For one, wood pellets tend to burn up a lot more quickly than logs. You may find yourself having to fill your smokeless fire pit with pellets much more frequently than simply adding an additional log to a fire.

You also need to be careful when adding new pellets to the fire because it’s very easy to smother the fire accidentally. Keep a cup on hand and add pellets frequently and in small amounts. Be sure to spread the new pellets out well as you add them, and use hearth tools (like a shovel or fire poker) to mix the new pellets in with the burning pellets.

Finally, it can be tough to get a pellet fire going initially. You can spray a little bit of lighter fluid around the perimeter of the pellets before lighting them, but do so sparingly. If you do this, be very careful when lighting the pellets.

Should You Get a Smokeless Fire Pit?

The old adage goes, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” So it can be surprising to learn about smokeless fire pits and easy to wonder about how they work.

At this point, it should be clear that the pellet fuel and the airflow design of the fire pit itself work in tandem to create a smokeless burn.

But should you get a smokeless fire pit?

The answer depends; if you have a traditional fire pit that you like and you don’t mind the smoke it produces, you may not need to invest in a smokeless fire pit.

But if you’re tired of getting smoke in your eyes and your clothes and you tend to build a lot of outdoor fires, a smokeless fire pit may be just what you need. Flame Genie is a great place to start; it’s a well-reviewed, tried-and-true smokeless fire pit made right here in the USA.

And if Flame Genie doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, it’s a good time to be in the market for a smokeless fire pit — there are plenty of great options out there in all kinds of sizes and price ranges.

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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.

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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
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!

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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.

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.

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