How to Cover a Chimney

Kimberly Johnson

The top of a chimney is nothing more than an open area that allows smoke from a fireplace to escape from the house. Although most modern homes have a covering at the top called a chimney cap, some older ones do not.

Open chimneys can collect leaves, pine straw and animals.

All chimneys should have a covering to prevent rain from getting in and to prevent birds and squirrels from getting trapped. Installing a chimney cover typically requires only a screwdriver and very good balance.

  1. Place a ladder up to the chimney or another part of the home, and extend it up so that it reaches or surpasses the edge of the roof line. Choose a perfectly level area of ground that is dry. Determine the height of the ladder, which is typically written on a label attached to it. Divide the number by 4, which is how many feet out from the house the base of the ladder should rest. This is the safest and sturdiest angle.

  2. Climb onto the ladder carrying a tape measure. Measure the length and the width of the opening at the top of the chimney. If it is a circular hole, measure the width from one side to the other, which is the diameter. Go to a home improvement store, and purchase a chimney cap of the same size.

  3. Put on heavy work gloves, and unpack the chimney cap from the box. Carefully carry it up to the roof.

  4. Set the chimney cap on top of the chimney opening until it is secure.

  5. Locate the two long screws on either side of the chimney cap, and tighten them as much as possible with your hands. Then use a screwdriver to tighten each screw an additional one to two turns to make sure that it is secure.

  6. Tip

    If your fireplace has two openings instead of one, purchase a multi-flue cap, which is a large screen that fits over both of them. Install the multi-flue cap by applying construction adhesive to the bottom lip and pushing it down. Insert the provided screws into the top of the chimney using an electric screwdriver. When using a ladder, it's always best to have another person hold it while you climb. In addition, always maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times, such as two feet and one hand. Never release both hands.


    Never climb a ladder or install a chimney cover during rain, wind or when lighting is expected.

    Wear rubber-soled shoes when on the roof to avoid slipping, and stay on flat areas of the roof when possible.