Chimney Cap Cleaning
This chimney cap needs to be cleaned because the creosote is preventing the fireplace from venting which could cause harmful gases to back up into the home. This is often the result of a chimney fire.

Each year before you begin to burn your fireplace, it is prudent to inspect your chimney cap. After a year, animals may have gotten debris stuck in the wire mesh that keeps animals out of the chimney in the first place or creosote may have clogged it up in extreme cases. You want to inspect it or have a professional inspect it because a clogged chimney cap will cause the chimney’s draft to drastically decrease. To inspect the chimney cap you will need to get up to the top of the chimney. A safe ladder set up is necessary, and it is wise to have a buddy hold the ladder for you just in case. If you do not feel safe climbing up to the top of your chimney to inspect the cap, do not have the proper tools to reach the cap, or are just generally unable to, your chimney professional who comes out to sweep your chimney will be able to inspect it for you.

You should clean your cap, especially after a long winter of frequent burning. Generally speaking you will save money by performing this service by yourself. It is not difficult; the most difficult part is safely accessing the chimney top. After you’ve reached the top of the chimney, use an appropriately sized wrench to unscrew the screws holding the cap to the top of the chimney. If you have a stainless steel cap,  detergent and water is the first

Stainless Steel Cap
If you do not have a cap on your chimney, it is very important to get one installed. This cap actually seals off the chimney at the top when the fireplace isn’t in use.

method of cleaning you should try. You can use a stiff bristle brush to try and scrub away any creosote buildup on the cap. Vinegar is another great cleaner that may come in handy if the detergent doesn’t work; while working on the ground soak a cloth in a vinegar and water mixture and let it sit on the cap so the vinegar can break down the creosote.

Some folks who actually do go through with the cleaning of their cap do so because they have a copper chimney cap which will turn greenish over time without proper maintenance. These caps are more expensive but really do look great on the home. To clean a copper chimney cap you can either pour vinegar on the cap and dump salt on it, rubbing the salt with a dry rag and rinsing dry with water or you can make a paste from salt, white vinegar, and flour. This paste should not run but be viscous enough to spread onto the cap. It will need to sit for about an hour on the cap, rinse with water and towel dry to prevent water marks from forming.

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

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Clay Lamb

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8 thoughts on “Chimney Cap Cleaning

  1. my question is, can you use any chemical or otherwise to put on the cap to prevent buildup, yes, every year we get on the roof and clean the screening but would like to use something so we don’t have to get up there. we only burn seasoned red oak and have hot fires, use creosote cleaner in the fireplace periodically to keep it clean, can the cap be sprayed with pam or any other substance. would greatly appreciate hearing from you
    annienowak@aol.com

  2. Ann, it really sounds like you doing all of the right things. Personally I would not suggest applying any product or chemical to the chimney cap or screen, and I have not heard of any such spray product to date. I have only found that creosote issues are caused by burning un-seasoned wood, insufficient draft up the chimney, closing down the damper to much and to often and finally the screen and blocks the venting the smoke.
    The only thing I can think of at this point and I’m not even sure if is code compliant in your area, legal or even practical in your application.
    Could you try removing just the cap “screening” during the “burning season”.
    Sorry I wish I had other recommendations
    Clay

  3. I own a mobile home. My chimney cap screen is starting to turn black. I can still see light through it like an automotive air filter. It was replaced about 100 fires ago. Do I need to replace it? Or can I clean it?

  4. Greetings Craig,
    The United State Dept of HUD is the dept that provides the guidelines for both the Manufacturing and installation of fireplaces in the mobile home industry, so I will assume your fireplace is built and installed according to the HUD standards. The smoke stains on the outside of the cap are an eye sour but are not known as a being problematic regarding the draft. It is the soot that could cause you problems, but you mentioned that you can see through the screen and I would think it is not blocking the smoke from exiting the chimney or the chimney cap.
    I’m not sure as to why the cap was replaced a short while ago or even why it is a consideration today?
    Lets cover the topic of your having 100 fires, it is not the number of fires someone has, as I personally may have 100 fires, but each one could burn for 1, 2 or 3 days and that means that I’m burning a lot more wood than someone who only uses their fireplace for a couple of hours each evening. If it were mine, I would brush off the cap and confirm that the soot is not blocking the screen.
    In short, if you’re still having any concerns about the stains or even soot accumulation, may I suggest bringing in another opinion or two to address your concerns.
    You can find other Chimney sweeping contractors in your area by going http://www.NCSG.org
    Burn Safe and Warm
    Regards
    Clay

  5. Hi there- how do you clean the copper of the chimney that’s against the roofline? Is there something you can apply to prevent it from turning green? We just redid our chimney and they applied the copper. So within the month it changed color. Any ideas?

  6. I wish I had a good answer for you; I would keep searching online for products. Copper’s natural characteristic is to age and turn green. Some people love this and will actually put a chemical on to make it turn green. The reason I can speak of this is my wife and I had a disagreement about whether should it be green or shiny cooper. Sorry to say she lost, because i accidentally used a chemical on the brick cleaner about it, that turned it green. You might want to check with your local hardware store, taking pictures in there, to further have this conversation. Either way cooper looks great on the house, shiny or green!
    Best,
    Clay

  7. My chimney cap gets clogged with creosote and catches fire. We burn seaosoned oak 24-7 all winter. What should I do to put out the fire and is there any way to prevent this?

  8. Let me address your last statement first, if you have a fire, stop and call 911 ?. Back to business, I compliment you on using seasoned wood, so that tells me it’s not a wood issue but a draft performance issue. It’s one of two things in most cases, 1st it is being chocked down. Either too much or too often. Secondly, if you have a chimney screen on the cap, be cautious it doesn’t clog or cobweb with creosote. If it does, then I recommend removing the screen during really cold seasons and good hot flushing in the mornings will often override long burn sluggish times.

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