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Does Outdoor Chimney Need Cap

Do Outdoor Chimneys Need Chimney Caps?

A chimney on an outdoor fireplace- whether attached to your home or a stand-alone fireplace away from the house – needs a chimney cap for all the reasons a house chimney needs one.

Outdoor Chimney with No Chimney Cap

The chimneys on outdoor fireplaces below have no chimney caps. On one, you can see the flue protruding from the top; on the other the flue is flush with the top. An outdoor chimney unprotected by a chimney cap invites water, mammals, birds and bird droppings to enter your chimney and fireplace.

Outdoor chimney with no chimney cap

The visible flue on top of the outdoor chimney is unprotected by a chimney cap.

Outdoor chimney for outdoor fireplace with no chimney cap

The flue on this chimney does not extend about the crown. Nevertheless, it needs a chimney cap.

Outdoor Chimney with Stone Chimney Topper

Stone chimney toppers resemble a table on top of a chimney. They have four legs, usually made of bricks or stones, and a flat top, usually a sheet of stone or concrete.

Stone toppers on an outdoor chimney protect the flue, fireplace, and fireplace grate from rain and melted snow. That’s a plus. However, animals including birds are still free to enter into the chimney and clog up the flue with their nesting materials. Stone toppers for outdoor chimneys typically do not have mesh screening. It is the screening that keeps animals out. So, while stone chimney topper are better than no chimney cap at all, they are still not sufficient to protect your chimney and fireplace from animals.


outdoor chimney with stone chimney cap

Stone chimney toppers will keep water but not pests out of your outdoor fireplace.

Stone Chimney Topper on Outdoor Chimney

Stone toppers typically do not include mesh screening to prevent animal entry.

Outdoor Chimney with Chimney Cap

  • Chimney caps have a “roof” to keep rain from entering your outdoor chimney and fireplace.
  • They also have screen mesh on all four sides to prevent mammals and birds from crawling into and leaves from blowing into your chimney flue and fireplace.

    Single Flue Chimney Cap = Black Draft King Single Flue Chimney Cap

    Draft King Single Flue Chimney Cap, Galvanized with Black Paint

  • An additional benefit of the screening is that it prevents sparks and embers from exiting your chimney and starting a wildfire.
Single Flue Chimney Cap on Outdoor Chimney

A Single Flue Chimney Cap is the least expensive way to protect an outdoor chimney.

Top-Mount Chimney Cap on Outdoor Chimney

A Top Mount Chimney Cap has the added benefit of protecting the chimney’s top cement crown.

Decorative Chimney Cap on an Outdoor Chimney

Custom made decorative chimney caps provide protection with architectural style and mesh.

Copper Chimney Pots on Outdoor Chimney

Chimney Pots are another way to combine style and the protection of chimney caps.

Why an Outdoor Chimney Needs a Chimney Cap

Here are the four main reasons that, yes, indeed, you do need a chimney cap on your outdoor fireplace:

To Keep Water Out of Your Outdoor Fireplace

When it rains or when snow melts, without a chimney cap, the water will run down your chimney and into your outdoor fireplace. When water mixes with ashes in the fireplace, it produces caustic lye. In addition, water will rust your outdoor fireplace grate.

→ To Keep Birds and Mammals Out of Your Outdoor Chimney

Squirrels, opossums, bats, and raccoon think of an outdoor chimney as a McMansion of a home! Within the wilds of your yard, but sturdier than a tree and safer from predators, that chimney serving an outdoor fireplace looks like a great place to raise the little ones. Once the critters have claimed your outdoor chimney as a rent-free home, you have not only a nuisance but also a potential for a chimney fire. Nesting materials within the chimney, even if you cannot see them, can cause a chimney fire.

A chimney cap, well fastened to your flue or to the top of the chimney, will keep out even the most inventive of mammals (that is, even raccoon!)

→ To Keep Bird Droppings Out of Your Outdoor Fireplace

Birds sitting atop an outdoor chimney without a chimney cap will use the flue as a toilet. Bird droppings are dangerous to humans. And they don’t get any less dangerous when they are burned in the fireplace: Inhaling the smoke containing burning bird droppings in not healthy, either.

→ To Prevent Wildfires

If sparks are allowed to exit your chimney, they can possibly catch surrounding grasses, leaves, trees and bushes on fire. In the worse case, they can set you home afire. The screen mesh in chimney caps helps prevent embers and sparks from escaping your outdoor chimney.

Posted in Using Your Fireplace Tagged with: , ,

Best Fire Pit Use Tips

Best Fire Pit Use Tips

The two main reasons people don’t use their fire pits more often are inconvenience and mosquitoes. These best fire pit use tips put an end to fire pit hassles, inconveniences and bugs.

Fire Pit Use Tip #1: Make lighting the fire pit easy!

Fatwood speeds up and simplifies lighting a fire pit and has several advantages for folks who use fire pits.  Fatwood is great for getting fires started in a fire pit.  Placed underneath the grate, where there is not much room for tinder and kindling, a small amount of fatwood will do the job.  It lights easily because of its high resin content.

Fatwood will even ignite when it is wet!


fatwood fire starters

Fatwood for Fire Pit Fire Starting

Fatwood is made from the highly resinous roots of pine trees, after the trees have been harvested.  It is a resource that would otherwise be wasted, and it is as sustainable as pine trees themselves.  It is sold in sticks that are about 8” long and 3/4” by 3/4” thick, a size perfect for use with fire pits.

Fire Pit Use Tip #2: Chase away the mosquitoes!

Enjoy the fire without the flying pests by using citronella logs in your fire pit. Per pound, these nontoxic, all natural logs provide up to three times the heat as firewood. This is an easy way of eliminating the mosquitoes and increasing your enjoyment of your outdoor time.

Citronella logs are truly one of the most overlooked but best fire pit use tips ever.

Fire Pit Use Tip #3: Let your fire breathe to keep it burning well.

A fire pit grate provides breathing space under your fire, ensuring an adequate supply of oxygen for combustion.  It will make your fires light more easily and burn better.

A fire pit grate lifts the firewood above the bottom of the fire pit, which may be wet from rain.  It also protects the walls of the fire pit from excessive heat by positioning the fire in the center of the fire pit.

Fire pit grates are available in standard sizes of 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40 inches in diameter.  Manufacturers make grates using steel bar of various thicknesses, primarily 1/2” by 1/2” or 1/2” by 1”.  There are also some stainless steel grates on the market.  These have the advantage of resisting rust.  In general, the thicker the bars, the longer the grate will last.


Fire Pit Use Tip #4: Have these two essential fire pit tending tools – a long handled log grabber and a blowpoke.

A long handled log grabber or tongs keeps you safely away from the fire when you add new logs or more pieces of firewood. At 26 to 36 inches, they protect you from the maximum heat of the fire and safely away from sparks.


A blowpoke lets you tend the fire in your fire pit without getting smoke in your eyes.  About four feet long, blowpokes are hollow tubes with a hook-shaped poker end.  You can blow through it to increase the supply of oxygen when starting a new fire or when reviving a fire from glowing coals.

Blowpoke - Best Fire Pit Use Tip

Blowing into the blowpoke revives the fire in the fire pit.


A blowpoke is an essential tool for managing the fire in a fire pit.  The blowpoke we recommend for fire pits is the Firedragon Blowpoke Tool: It has a set of prongs (instead of just a hook) at the end of the blowpoke, making it an even more convenient fire pit tool.


Fire Pit Use Tip #5: Keep the sparks in and the elements out.

Use a fire pit mesh spark guard screen for safety to keep the sparks from escaping your fire pit. See other styles and all sizes of fire pit screens here.

And when the fire pit is completely cold and not in use, protect it with a fire pit cover to keep out the rain and snow and extend its lifespan. When water mixes with the ashes in a fire pit, it creates an acidic mixture that will shorten the life of a metal fire pit or fire bowl. Fire pits come in round, square, octagonal, rectangular and spherical shapes and in a variety of sizes – Find fabric fire pit covers for fire pits the size and shape of yours.

Fire Pit Covers

Protective Fire Pit Covers


Fire pits are increasingly popular in America’s suburbs as people do more and more outdoor living.  A fire pit can be the centerpiece for cozy family chats or for socializing with friends.  But minor inconveniences and annoying mosquitoes keep too many from using their fire pits more often. By employing these simple Best Fire Pit Use Tips, you will get the most enjoyment and use out of your fire pit.

Posted in Using Your Fireplace Tagged with:

Super Bowl Challenge


The Fire Chiefs of Charlotte and Denver have agreed to a Super Bowl Challenge that has the potential to save lives.

The outcome of Fire Chief Super Bowl 50 will determine which city’s Fire Chief will receive 200 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for installation in needy homes in his city. But like the Super Bowl where even the losers get Super Bowl rings, the losing team’s city’s Fire Chief will receive 50 of the alarms to donate in his city.

But the Fire Chief Super Bowl Challenge doesn’t end with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: The losing city’s Fire Chief is required to install those 50 alarms while wearing the winning team’s jersey!

Super Bowl Challenge Fire Chief

Eric Tade,
Denver Fire Chief

Super Bowl challenge Fire Chief

Jon B. Hannon
Charlotte Fire Chiel

Both Eric Tade, the Denver Fire Chief, and Jon B. Hannon, Charlotte’s Fire Chief, understand that this friendly Fire Chief Super Bowl Challenge is a winner regardless of which team wins. Having a working smoke alarm in a home increases the occupants’ chances of survival by 50 per cent!

According to The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan said he was “confident our Carolina Panthers will bring home the trophy, and Chief (Eric) Tade will look great wearing our blue and black.”

The combination smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms involved in the Super Bowl Challenge are Kidde Worry-Free 10-year sealed battery smoke-carbon monoxide alarms.

 combination smoke-carbon monoxide alarm for the Fire Chief Super Bowl Challenge

Posted in Safety

Outside Chimney Cap Measure

Outside chimney cap measure guide - how to measure for an outside mount chimney cap

Outside Mount or Outside Chimney Cap Measure Guide:
What to Measure to Get the Right Fit –

vertical skirt attaches to outside of chimneyOutside mount chimney caps fit over the entire chimney, like the lid on a shoe box. The Vertical Skirt on Outside Mount chimney caps attach to the sides of the chimney with screws or chimney cap adhesive. Many people prefer the nicely finished look these chimney caps provide.

outside chimney cap measure to get the right fitBecause chimneys are hand made, their dimensions often vary a bit. Most outside mount chimney caps are custom made because of variations in chimney dimensions. Such custom made chimney caps can be constructed of stainless steel or copper with the design features you want, such as a hip and ridge top and a vertical skirt of the height you specify. The stainless steel can be powdercoat finished with an exterior grade paint in your choice of color.

styles outside chimney cap measure for fit

Only Band-Around Chimney Caps are available in stock sizes as well as custom sizes. These Band-Around Chimney Caps tighten at each corner of the chimney for a secure fit. The stock sizes of the Band-Around Chimney Caps are made of aluminum. Custom Band-Around Chimney Caps can be constructed with aluminum or stainless steel.

Custom band-around chimney cap

Custom band-around chimney cap

Use the outside mount or outside chimney cap measure guide below to get all the right measurement you need for a chimney cap that covers a chimney like a shoe box lid and attaches to the vertical sides:

What to Measure:
For a Stock or Custom Band-Around Chimney Cap, you will need these measurement:For an outside mount chimney cap, measure the longest side first, then measure each successive side going CLOCKWISE.

•     Start with the longest side of your chimney. Measure it using a metal measure. Then, going in a clockwise direction, measure each of the other sides.

•     Measure the height of your tallest flue. To assure good drafting of your fireplace, select a Screen Height (see yellow arrow on diagram below) at least 5 inches taller than your tallest flue.

Outside mount or outside chimney cap measure guide

For a Custom Outside Mount Chimney Cap you will ALSO need these measurements:

•     Measure how far down the side of the chimney you want the chimney cap to cover. This is referred to as the Vertical Skirt Height (see blue arrow on diagram above) and a 3 inch vertical skirt height is standard.

•     Measure for your chimney cap’s Horizontal Skirt Width (see green arrow on diagram above.) The standard for horizontal skirt width is two inches and will work fine as long as none of your flues is within two inches of the edge of the chimney.

•     Measure for your chimney cap’s Lid Overhang (see purple arrow on diagram above.) The lid overhang serves like the eaves on a house. The standard overhang is 3 inches, but you may wish to make it larger (up to 7 inches) to give your chimney cap better visual proportions if you have a wide horizontal skirt width and a screen height taller than 12 inches.

•     Select a standard, flat lid (such as the one on the diagram above) or a lid with a pitch. See Lid Styles A through J below. The first number above each diagram, such as 3/12, is the roof pitch and the second number, such as 14o, is the degree of the roof’s angle.

lid pitch selection for outside mount chimney caps

•     Select stainless steel or copper for your chimney cap’s material. Stainless steel can be powdercoat painted with a color of your choice.

•     Select standard 3/4″ mesh screening or a tighter, 5/8″ mesh screening if you live in California or in an area at risk for wildfires.

Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance Tagged with: ,
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