Chimney Rain Cap & Chimney Cap/Crown
Choices, Installation, Inspection, Defects & Repairs
CHIMNEY CAP & CROWN DEFINITIONS - CONTENTS: Definition of chimney rain cap; definition of chimney cap / chimney crown & chimney pot - different jobs of chimney rain cap vs. chimney crown/cap, Photo guide to types of chimney rain caps, chimney caps/crowns, other chimney top designs, Chimney rain cap defects; Chimney crown/cap defects, Chimney caps & crowns: building codes & standards; Decorative chimney rain caps
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Chimney caps & crowns: this article describes the types of covers & terminations found at the top of chimneys and flues. We define chimney rain cap, chimney cap, chimney crown, and chimney pot, giving photo-examples of each of these components.
We illustrate common chimney cap & crown types, choices, & defects, and we cite pertinent chimney top cap / crown building codes & standards for fire and other safety concerns.
Some of us are confused about what to call the topmost components of a chimney. This article offers definitions of chimney rain cap or rain cover, chimney crown or top seal, chimney pot, and chimney shroud. Additional articles in this series describe inspection points, defects, and safety hazards concerning each of these chimney features.
A chimney rain cap is a rain cover on top of a chimney flue designed to keep out rain (which can damage the flue or appliances it vents) and intended to reduce downdrafts in the chimney in windy conditions.
Some chimney rain caps may be supported atop a masonry chimney in a position to shelter the chimney flue, and may not only cover the chimney flue opening but may also project out beyond the entire chimney top (red arrow, photo at left).
This example is still a chimney rain cap.
[Click to enlarge any image]
On many clay flue tile lined chimneys the rain cap will mount directly on to and will cover only the chimney flue itself (photo at left).
A retrofit chimney rain cap is shown in our photo.
This rain cap is designed to fit over the top of a standard sized clay chimney flue tile and is held in place by four threaded bolts that press against the sides of the flue tile.
Other chimney rain caps for clay tile flues mount by friction by insertion into the interior of the top of the flue tile.
Watch out: over tightening the securing bolts of this chimney rain cap can break the flue tile, while leaving them too lose risks that the whole rain cap assembly blows away during high winds.
Definition of Chimney Cap = Chimney Crown = Mortar Cap
Masonry Chimney Caps: on a masonry chimney the chimney cap is a pre-cast concrete or poured in place concrete seal around the flue tile (on a modern masonry chimney). In our photo (at left) the chimney cap, also called a mortar cap, is the gray concrete visible around the projecting flue tiles at the top of the chimney.
This particular chimney cap is defective: too thin, cracked, leaky, missing an expansion joint at the flue tile, and lacking a drip edge projection over the chimney top.
Others call this area the "chimney crown" in an effort to avoid confusion between the chimney cap (red arrow) and the chimney rain cap (blue arrow). To add confusion "chimney crown" is used by others to refer to decorative chimney tops or pots (described below).
Metal chimney caps: the top of a wood-framed boxed-in structure through which a metal or insulated metal flue is routed must also be sealed against water using a chimney crown or cap, and the flue that extends through the chimney crown/cap also needs a rain cap. (Illustrated below)
Watch out: leakage into a chimney through a defective chimney cap leads to damage to the chimney structure, chimney flue, and leads to interior leaks as well as unsafe conditions.
Our photo of a metal chimney cap and rain-cap combined in a custom-fabricated design (at left), adds more confusion to chimney top terminology. This chimney was observed atop a hotel near Bar Harbor, Maine.
Definition of Chimney Pot
As we illustrate in more detail at DECORATIVE CHIMNEY POTS, the term "chimney pot" is used to describe a decorative rain cap assembly on the top of a chimney, covering its flue and in some cases covering both the flue itself and the entire chimney top, including the chimney flue and chimney cap/crown. At above left is a common simple chimney pot installed on a New York home while at above right magpies are inspecting the chimney pots atop a chimney in Oxford in the U.K.
Typically the chimney pot also adds height to the top of the chimney flue.
Our chimney pot photo (left) illustrates a retrofit or add-on chimney pot that increases the effective chimney height of a concrete block chimney, possibly aiding in solving a chimney draft problem.
Chimney Shrouds: for factory-built chimneys & chimney chases
Chimney shrouds (below left) are metal enclosures added atop a (typically wood-framed) chimney chase for cosmetic reasons, to hide the round or retangular metal chimney and rain cap that extend at the top of the chimney chase (below right).
Warning About Installing Decorative Chimney Top Shrouds (Chimney "Crowns") on Factory-Built Chimneys
Watch out: installing a decorative chimney pot or chimney crown on a factory-built chimney may be unsafe as well as a building code violation.
Unless the decorative chimney shroud or "crown" is listed and labeled for use with the specific factory-built chimney system where it is installed there is a risk that the added decorative covering can cause overheating, leading to a roof or chimney chase fire or other unsafe conditions such as inadequate draft.
- Thanks to Stephen Werner, Chimney King LLC in Gurnee, IL, for this warning. 
Details about decorative chimney top shrouds ("crowns" among some installers) installed atop wood-framed chimney chaseways, including model building code citations and fire safety warnings, are
at CHIMNEY SHROUDS.
Photo of a listed decorative chimney top shroud (above left) provided courtesy of Chimney King. 
Reader Question: What and where are the soffit, fascia board and are they parts of a chimney? What is a "corible"
Where is the "soffit" and "fascia board" on a chimney? I was told they need caulked. And what is a "corible". I was told it needs sealed. Thanks. - Rick
Reply: soffit and fascia are roof edge trim components. Corbelling is stair-stepping in brick work, often used to angle a chimney over to a desired location.
Rick, you got me on that question. Soffits on building exteriors are the enclosed lower portion of the roof overhang or roof edge, also called "eaves".The fascia board (green arrow in our sketch at left) is a vertical board running parallel to the roof edge on the outer edge of the soffit - usually it's covered by the roof edge gutters.
A soffit is a general term for a boxed-in overhang and might appear indoors in a kitchen over cabinets. In our roof sketch (left) the soffit is pointed to by our red arrow. The sketch at left is provided courtesy Steven Bliss & J Wiley & Sons 
A chimney doesn't have a soffit nor fascia, though a chimney built up along an outside house wall might indeed come into contact with or even penetrate a soffit and fascia along one of the roof edges.
But if your chimney runs up the outside wall of your home where it intersects with a lower roof edge, the soffit might be "interrupted" around the roof eaves in that area - and it's a common leak point.
Sadly it sounds as if you were getting questionable advice. What prevents leaks where a chimney passes through a roof, even at the lower edge or soffit or eaves of the house, is flashing, not caulking. Caulk would be a short-lived band aid.
Corbelling: Corible - sounds like something "horrible" and isn't a word I've heard nor been able to find in building dictionaries except perhaps used as a term for button-like decorations around a section of building, roof, or chimney trim.
I suspect your contractor meant "corbelling" (photo at left, some spell corbelling) which refers to a stair-stepped or sometimes simply "slanted" chimney construction that allows the mason to angle a chimney off to one side in order to send it where the building designer or architect wanted. For example a corbelled chimney may stair step to one side in an attic in order to exit the roof right at the ridge rather than extending straight up from lower floors to a lower roof penetration location.
See our "House Parts" dictionary at HOUSE PARTS, DEFINITIONS to see a building sketch that defines different parts of the house, or
Your question worries me that you are not getting clear cogent advice. Maybe ask whoever told you to be more clear.
Reader Question: Definition of chimney flue. What is a chimney flue? What is a chimney flute?
Is it incorrect to say "close the flute" or is it "close the flue"? - Vanna 7/27/12
Reply: chimney flue - chimney flues vent heating appliances; flutes and even chimney "flutes" appear on pipe organs for making music
We close the chimney flue by closing the flue damper. A chimney flue (not flute) is the passage inside of a masonry chimney or inside of a metal chimney that allows smoke, heat, and gases of combustion to pass up the chimney to be vented safely above the building. At a fireplace the chimney flue begins immediately above the smoke shelf above the fireplace itself.
At a heating appliance such as an oil or gas fired heating boiler or water heater, the active chimney flue begins at the point of insertion of the flue vent connector into the chimney.
The flue vent connector is a metal pipe that connects the heating appliance to the chimney and chimney flue. In our photo at left our client is pointing to the (leaky) point at which a horizontal flue vent connector is inserted into the chimney flue. In our photo at left those two rectangular openings are the very top of two independent chimney flues.
See CHIMNEY INSPECTION, FLUE INTERIOR for details.The term "chimney flute" does indeed occur and is used [correctly] to refer to certain German translations for pipe organ parts, and for pipe organ parts. In documents describing the pipe organ - by which we refer to the musical instrument with a keyboard and air-driven sounding pipes that play various notes and chords - the term "flue pipe", "flute pipe", labial pipe, and also chimney flute all appear. In pipe organs, the "flutes" or "flute pipes" are the widest, elemental or low note producing pipes on the instrument. 
Watch out: However, perhaps from German or Old English, and also occasionally among people who are careless with language, we find articles written about heating appliance chimneys and flues that refer to the chimney "flute". Baloney. If you come across a purportedly technical article about heating appliance chimneys that does not know the proper name for building parts, I'd be careful about trusting the advice offered there.
Chimney Cap / Chimney Crown Defect Inspection Guide
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(Dec 3, 2014) Tony said:
We installed a triple walled metal chimney 12'run of pipe straight up from the top of our woodstove to 3' above the roof line. We burn our stove almost constantly at 250F-400F.We don't see any creosote buildup when inspecting and cleaning the chimney, but are plagued by soot collection in the top 3'-5' of the chimney. There is no chase surrounding the exposed section of the chimney, would an insulated chase eliminate this problem? Or are there other solutions? I'm getting too old to keep climbing up on the roof all winter.
Tony I'm not confident I can safely diagnose and recommend for this concern. Light soot from a woodstove at a chimney top may be ok but if soot blocks the cap, screen or flue there are indeed safety hazards. I agree that depending on the chimney height, enclosing the flue increases its temperature - but in wood burning I'm not sure what that does to soot at the cap.
I would feel that you are safest getting onsite advice from a certified chimney sweep. Do keep us posted.
(Feb 2, 2015) Eva said:
Do you need licence to produce Chimney caps in nyc?
I'm not sure Eva, if you need a special license to produce chimney caps but selling them would be another question: certainly you'd need to get your chimney caps listed by UL or another accepted authority before they'd be code-approved and thus legal to install.
30 March 2015 chris said:
what is the minimum clearance between the top of the flue liner and the bottom of the chimney cap
Chris this question was answered just below in a reply to ANON - thanks for asking, I'll also add that text to the article above.
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 Wood Heating Alliance, "Building Inspector's Checklist for Factory Built Fireplaces", appearing in Baird, David J., C.B.O., "Factory-built Chimney Chase Fires: A case for More Detailed Inspection", Building Standards, March-April 1991, pp. 14-17. Note: The Fireplace Institute (FI) and the Wood Energy Institute (WEI) united to form the Wood Heating Alliance in 1980. The name was then changed again in 1983 to the Hearth Products Association (HPA) a non-profit organization, in order to better reflect the diversity and range of products and services within the industry. The name was changed once more to, Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) in 2001. Pacific HPBA, 2304 Huntington Dr., Suite 218, San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 237-1200 or (888) 332-2472
Fax: (626) 237-0721- email@example.com, Website: http://hpbapacific.org/
Fireplace Safety Tips - Barbecue Safety Tips from the HPBA - see http://hpbapacific.org/pdfs/safetytips.pdf
 Baird, David J., C.B.O., "Factory-built Chimney Chase Fires: A case for More Detailed Inspection", Building Standards, March-April 1991, pp. 14-17.
 Stephen Werner, General Manager, Chimney King LLC., P.O. Box 8, Gurnee, IL 60031, Tel: (847) 244-8860, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.chimneyking.com . Mr. Werner is also a licensed home inspector serving clients in Wisconsin. Chimney King sells their products through a network of fireplace dealers, chimney sweeps, roofers and builders. Each decorative shroud is custom built because no two chimney/chase are alike.
Chimney King, op cit, personal communication 3/26/2013 w/attachments:
Purdie, Roger K., "Chimney Fire Safety Bulletin", Vista Fire Protection District, 2001, report of house fire related to the home's metal chimney. Contains advice for chimney * fire safety & sketches of approved and not-code-approved metal chimney tops, caps & crowns. [PDF]
 Residential Masonry Fireplace and Chimney Handbook, James E. Amrhein, S.E., MIA, Masonry Institute of America, 2d. Ed., 1995, ISBN 0-940116-29-4. The MIA is in Los Angeles, CA 213-388-0472. This manual reflects the 1994 Uniform Building Code, Energy Conservation Requirements of California, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - HUD. The complete UBC is available from the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), Whittier CA 310-699-0541.
 NFPA 211 - Standards for Chimneys & Fireplaces, NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances, 2006 Edition (older editions and standards are found at the same bookstore), NFPA #211-3.1 1988 -
Specific to chimneys, fireplaces, vents and solid fuel burning appliances.
NFPA 211 - 3-1.10 - Relining guide for chimneys
NFPA 211 - 3-2 - Construction of Masonry Chimneys
NFPA 211 - 3-3 - Termination Height for chimneys
NFPA 211 - 3-4 - Clearance from Combustible Material
NFPA 54 - 7-1 - Venting of Equipment into chimneys
 NFPA # 54-7.1 1992 -
Specific to venting of equipment with fan-assisted combustion systems.
 GAMA - Gas Appliance Manufacturers' Association has prepared venting tables for
Category I draft hood equipped central furnaces as well as fan-assisted
combustion system central furnaces.
 National Fuel Gas Code, an American National Standard, 4th ed. 1988 (newer edition is available) Secretariats, American Gas Association (AGA), 1515 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA22209, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Batterymarch Park, Quincy MA 02269. ANSI Z223.1-1988 - NFPA 54-1988. WARNING: be sure to check clearances and other safety guidelines in the latest edition of these standards.
 Fire Inspector Guidebook, A Correlation of Fire Safety Requirements Contained in the 1987 BOCA National Codes, (newer edition available), Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), Country Club HIlls, IL 60478 312-799-2300 4th ed. Note: this document is reissued every four years. Be sure to obtain the latest edition.
 Uniform Mechanical Code - UMC 1991, Sec 913 (a.) Masonry Chimneys,
refers to Chapters 23, 29, and 37 of the Building Code.
 New York 1984 Uniform Fire
Prevention and Building Code, Article 10, Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Requirements
New York 1979 Uniform Fire Prevention & Building Code, The "requirement" for 8" of solid masonry OR for use of a
flue liner was listed in the One and Two Family Dwelling Code for New
York, in 1979, in Chapter 9, Chimneys and Fireplaces, New York 1979
Building and Fire Prevention Code:
 "Top Ten Chimney (and related) Problems Encountered by One Chimney Sweep," Hudson Valley ASHI education seminar, 3 January 2000, contributed by Bob Hansen, ASHI
 "Rooftop View Turns to Darkness," Martine Costello, Josh Kovner, New Haven Register, 12 May 1992 p. 11: Catherine Murphy was sunning on a building roof when a chimney collapsed; she fell into and was trapped inside the chimney until rescued by emergency workers.
 "Chimneys and Vents," Mark J. Reinmiller, P.E., ASHI Technical Journal, Vol. 1 No. 2 July 1991 p. 34-38.
 "Chimney Inspection Procedures & Codes," Donald V. Cohen was to be published in the first volume of the 1994 ASHI Technical Journal by D. Friedman, then editor/publisher of that publication. The production of the ASHI Technical Journal and future editions was cancelled by ASHI President Patrick Porzio. Some of the content of Mr. Cohen's original submission has been included in this more complete chimney inspection article: InspectAPedia.com/chimneys/Chimney_Inspection_Repair.php. Copies of earlier editions of the ASHI Technical Journal are available from ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.
 Natural Gas Weekly Update: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/ngw/ngupdate.asp Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government
 US Energy Administration: Electrical Energy Costs http://www.eia.doe.gov/fuelelectric.html
 Ceramic Roofware, Hans Van Lemmen, Shire Library, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0747805694 - Brick chimneys, chimney-pots and roof and ridge tiles have been a feature of the roofs of a wide range of buildings since the late Middle Ages. In the first instance this ceramic roofware was functional - to make the roof weatherproof and to provide an outlet for smoke - but it could also be very decorative.
The practical and ornamental aspects of ceramic roofware can still be seen throughout Britain, particularly on buildings of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Not only do these often have ornate chimneys and roof tiles but they may also feature ornamental sculptures or highly decorative gable ends. This book charts the history of ceramic roofware from the Middle Ages to the present day, highlighting both practical and decorative applications, and giving information about manufacturers and on the styles and techniques of production and decoration.
Hans van Lemmen is an established author on the history of tiles and has lectured on the subject in Britain and elsewhere. He is founder member and presently publications editor of the British Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society. Also available at the InspectAPedia Bookstore.
 Chimney & Stack Inspection Guidelines, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2003 - These guidelines address the inspection of chimneys and stacks. Each guideline assists owners in determining what level of inspection is appropriate to a particular chimney and provides common criteria so that all parties involved have a clear understanding of the scope of the inspection and the end product required. Each chimney or stack is a unique structure, subject to both aggressive operating and natural environments, and degradation over time. Such degradation may be managed via a prudent inspection program followed by maintenance work on any equipment or structure determined to be in need of attention. Sample inspection report specifications, sample field inspection data forms, and an example of a developed plan of a concrete chimney are included in the guidelines. This book provides a valuable guidance tool for chimney and stack inspections and also offers a set of references for these particular inspections.
 Brick Institute of America - Flashing Chimneys
Brick Institute of America - Proper Chimney Crowns
Brick Institute of America - Moisture Resistance of Brick
 American Gas Association - New Vent Sizing Tables
 Chimney Safety Institute of America - Chimney Fires: Causes, Effects, Evaluation
 National Chimney Sweep Guild - Yellow Pages of Suppliers
 "Building Codes that Regulate Decorative Chimney Shrouds", provided by Stephen Werner , [copy on file as Chimney_Decorative_Shroud_Regs.pdf] cites:
International Mechanical Code IMC (2000), M74-98 806.6, ratified 9.98, model building code for the United States,
806.6 Decorative Shrouds. Decorative shrouds shall not be installed at the
termination of factory-built chimneys, except where such shrouds are listed
and labeled for use with the specific factory-built chimney system and are
installed in accordance with section 304.1.
Reason: Decorative shrouds have been the cause of roof and chase fires
International Residential Code (IRC) (2000), R1002.2 ratified 9/99, 1000.2 Decorative Shrouds. Decorative shrouds shall not be installed at the
termination of factory-built chimneys, except where such shrouds are listed
and labeled for use with the specific factory-built chimney system and are
installed in accordance with the manufacturers installation instructions.
Reason: Decorative shrouds often allow for the creation of temperatures in
excess of those permitted in UL 103 and UL 127. Decorative shrouds have
been the cause of chase top fires ...
International Fire Code (IFC) (2000), IFC 603.6.3, 603.6.3 Decorative Shrouds. Decorative shrouds installed at the
termination of factory-built chimneys shall be removed, except where such
shrouds are listed and labeled for use with the specific factory-built
chimney system and are installed in accordance with the manufacturers
Reason: Decorative shrouds have been the cause of dozens of chase fires.
As a non-listed part to a listed assembly, their use should not have been
allowed in the first place.
 International Residential Code IRC R100.11 - Fireplace Clearance:
International Residential Code was recently amended:
R1001.11 Fireplace clearance. Combustible material shall have a clearance of not less than 2 inches (51 mm) from the front faces and sides of masonry fireplaces and not less than 4 inches (102 mm) from the back faces of masonry fireplaces. The air space shall not be filled, except to provide fire blocking in accordance with Section R1003.12.
1. Masonry fireplaces listed and labeled for use in contact with combustibles in accordance with UL 127, and installed in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions, are permitted to have combustible material in contact with their exterior surfaces.
2. Combustible materials, including framing, wood siding, flooring and trim, shall be permitted to abut the sides and hearth extensions, but not the backs, of masonry fireplaces, in accordance with FIGURE R1003.12, provided such combustible materials are a minimum of 12 inches (306 mm) from the inside surface of the nearest firebox lining.
3. Exposed combustible mantels or trim may be placed directly on the masonry fireplace front surrounding the fireplace opening provided such combustible materials shall not be placed within 6 inches (153 mm) of a fireplace opening. Combustible material within 12 inches (305 mm) of the fireplace opening shall not project more than 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) for each 1-inch (25 mm) distance from such opening.
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Roger Hankey is principal of Hankey and Brown home inspectors, Eden Prairie, MN. Mr. Hankey is a past chairman of the ASHI Standards Committee. Mr. Hankey has served in other ASHI professional and leadership roles. Contact Roger Hankey at: 952 829-0044 - email@example.com. Mr. Hankey is a frequent contributor to InspectAPedia.com.
Arlene Puentes, an ASHI member and a licensed home inspector in Kingston, NY, and has served on ASHI national committees as well as HVASHI Chapter President. Ms. Puentes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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