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Are you aware of the interior as well as exterior components of your chimney system? It’s always good to know how things function. These parts work together to keep your fireplace system in good working order. And, one of the most important pieces of a chimney system is the chimney crown.
This simple structure that extends over the walls of your chimney helps to keep water, animals, and debris from entering the chimney, and your house. Simply put, a chimney crown does its bit in protecting your family and home.
What is a chimney crown?
A chimney crown, aka chimney wash, is a concrete, metal, or stone structure that tops the masonry chimney. It’s a large slab covering the opening of the chimney. Not to be confused with a chimney cap (a metal piece that covers the opening to the flue), a crown covers the entire top opening of a chimney.
Keep in mind that a crown should never be constructed using bricks and mortar as they are not waterproof. Such building materials tend to deteriorate quickly when exposed to the elements. A crown is designed in a way that prevents water from running into the chimney.
Is a chimney crown necessary?
A chimney wash is an extremely important part of the chimney system. Its primary function is to protect the structure from deterioration due to weather exposure. That’s why, its overhang, or kerf, is designed to extend 2 to 2.5 inches over the chimney structure.
Because of the overhang, the crown looks almost like a rain gutter, preventing rain, snow, and other moisture from making its way onto the chimney. It directs any water onto the roof where it drains out easily.
Without a properly installed crown, your chimney doesn’t have any real protection. Water (especially from the freeze and thaw in winters) can result in brick flaking, mortar deterioration, and salt deposits on your chimney. Over time, the bricks and mortar may break up and the chimney may no longer be structurally sound.
How much does it cost to replace a chimney crown?
Most homeowners can expect to pay between $750 and $1,200 for a crown repair. The average cost is $900 for repairs such as crack fillings and sealant applications. A complete chimney crown replacement or rebuilding can cost $3,000, or more.
How long do crowns last?
A high-quality chimney crown can last between 50 to 75 years, provided it’s built correctly. However, not all chimneys are built with the correct type of crown. Of course, unless it’s a prefabricated one. Remember that a poorly constructed crown could break down in less than 20 years.
Unfortunately, you’re only able to spot the actual crown damage through a chimney inspection or chimney sweepings. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant and take proper care. The bottom line is that ill-maintained crowns can over time develop small cracks or holes. And this can allow water to enter the flue or firebox. More damage means a higher repair cost.
How to keep crowns in good condition
It’s important that you maintain the crown by taking preventive measures. Here are some chimney crown maintenance tips for you.
- Schedule an annual chimney inspection.
- Make cleaning chimney a regular habit.
- Get any crown damage fixed as soon as possible or it may worsen over time.
- Always hire a licensed professional contractor or chimney service company with a good reputation and online reviews to repair or replace your crown.
- For a cracked but otherwise undamaged crown, you can make use of a good crown sealant.
- The existing crown surface should be cleaned regularly and may be reinforced with concrete and wire mesh.
Read more: Fireplace cleaning logs
The crown is a vital part of your chimney and fireplace system. Due to its location, it protects your chimney from water damage, takes a lot of abuse from outside weather and environmental influences, and keeps any water from entering your home.
Without a good crown, your chimney may develop cracks — allowing water to leak inside. So, if you want your chimney to continue to work properly, efficiently, and safely — you’ll have to ensure that your chimney crown, chimney cap, and chimney cover are well-looked after.
Read more: Need to know about chimney liners