Home Made or Site Built Chimney Rain Cap Features
Chimney top rain caps may be a DIY project. Are they safe?
CHIMNEY RAIN CAP / RAIN COVER DIY - CONTENTS: is it OK to make your own chimney rain cap or top cover? Is it safe and legal to use a non-listed chimney rain cap? Examples of functional and probably non-functional or unsafe do-it-yourself chimney caps. Chimney crown/cap defects, Chimney caps & crowns: building codes & standards;
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about home made or DIY chimney rain caps & chimney caps & their inspection, installation, troubleshooting & repair or replacement.
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Home made or DIY chimney rain caps & covers:
This article describes do-it-yoursel for "home-made chimney rain caps or top covers or rain covers. We explain why using an un-listed or DIY chimney rain cap may be unsafe, may violate building codes, or may not work well - or on the other hand maybe it will work. We'll take a look at several DIY chimney rain caps. At page top is an interesting home-made chimney top that may not provide adequate venting area.
This article series discusses common chimney cap & crown types, choices, & defects, and we cite pertinent chimney top cap / crown building codes & standards for fire and other safety concerns.
Home Made & Site-Built Brick Chimney Rain Caps & Chimney Caps: Combination Designs
In our photo at above left, the interesting chimney has a metal rain cap on one flue and not the other. The metal chimney cap looks home-made and perhaps not functional. The un-covered chimney flue (and most likely the covered one) are comprised of hard-fired clay chimney flue tiles.
The presence of creosote tar and soot stains around the left-hand rain cap and the size of its base make us suspect that what was originally a fireplace flue was covered and possibly lined with a smaller-diameter metal flue serving a woodstove.
Watch out: without disassembly or an in-flue inspection we don't know if this chimney has been lined with a metal flue, insulated, safe, and proper, or not. Further clues will be found indoors, such as perhaps a woodstove or fireplace insert. Further in-flue inspection for chimney safety is needed.
A type "A" listed metal chimney cap properly matched to the chimey flue is, in our opinion, more likely to be safe, functional, and code-compliant than an expedient DIY chimney rain cap such as those show here.
Watch out: if a DIY chimney rain cap obstructs the chimnmey by not providing enough venting space or area, or if the home made rain cap lets water enter the chimney or chimney flue the result may be a damaged and unsafe chimney risking carbon monoxide hazards or a building fire.
At above right an impressively-large and apparently custom-made chimney rain cap is displayed on a condominium we examined in Maine. The actual net free opening area was not visible.
More Site-Built Chimney Caps
Above we illustrate a home made metal rain cap installed on what looks like an unlined flue on a home in Brooklyn, New York. There is no spark arrestor; if the installer used aluminum this rain cap may also be short lived. I'd want the chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
At below left we illustrate a simple masonry chimney cap and rain cap constructed using thin soft clay bricks.
This combined rain cap and chimney cap and serve adequately to keep most rain out of the flue. Built originally for venting a small wood fire, this chimney rain cap are located in the temperate climate of central Mexico. You can see minor damage to the chimney's drip cap as the soft bricks are easily broken away.
Below our photo illustrates a combined chimney rain cap and chimney cap constructed of arch brickwork atop a New Hampshire home.
Like the A-shaped Mexican chimney rain cap (above left) this New Hampshire arched chimney rain cap offer some rain protection for the chimney flue and top surface but these designs:
do not provide a seal around the internal chimney flue
do not provide protection from downdrafts caused by winds that blow at right angles to the chimney rain cap shape and orientation
and the New Hampshire arched brick chimney cap does not provide a drip edge to protect the chimney sides from water and frost damage
Chimney Top Cap, Crown, Rain Cap Article Series Contents
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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.
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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