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How to Clean a Chimney Cap

Gail Marie

Chimney caps help keep birds, squirrels, leaves, water and twigs from coming into your chimney. Without them, your fireplace can develop a permanent smoky smell caused by rain, mixing with the creosote on your chimney walls. Like the chimney itself, chimney caps can be cleaned. How you clean a cap depends on what it is made of: stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper or clay. If your cap is so dirty it cannot be cleaned to your liking, you can replace the cap or paint it black (depending on the material).

How to Clean Stainless and Galvanized Steel Chimney Caps

Chimney with cap
  1. If possible, remove the chimney cap by loosening the screws at the base.

  2. Begin cleaning the cap with a rag saturated with a mixture of water and a mild detergent.

  3. Using a stiff brush, brush off dried or burnt-on gunk. Then rinse clean.

  4. Moisten a rag with undiluted white vinegar or club soda and wipe the cap. This should help remove or at least lighten heat stains.

  5. If unsatisfied with the results of your efforts thus far, continue cleaning with a stainless steel cleaner like Flitz Stainless Steel & Chrome Clean. Or, dip a rag into lacquer thinner and wipe it on your toughest steel chimney cap stains.

How to Clean Copper Chimney Caps

  1. Make a paste by dissolving 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup white vinegar; then add flour. Depending on the size of your chimney cap, you may need to double or triple the recipe.

  2. Apply a coat of paste to your copper chimney cap and let it sit for up to an hour. Then rinse with water and wipe dry with a rag.

  3. You can also pour vinegar over your copper chimney cap and then sprinkle it with salt.

  4. After rubbing the salt against the cap with a dry rag, rinse the cap with water and towel dry.

How to Clean Clay Chimney Caps

  1. Spray your clay chimney cap with the hose to saturate the clay.

  2. Using a brush and either baking soda or a bleach mixture (1 part bleach to 9 parts water), scrub off the gunk.

  3. Rinse when finished and allow the cap to dry.