Chimney crowns are at the top of chimneys, but it is easy for that to confuse homeowners when their tops look so different. In all likelihood, the difference is not a good thing but a time- and money-saving one, since often what is missing improves the chimney’s durability. What looks different, especially to professionally trained eyes, is the overhang, or maybe the flashing, or often more accurately, the absence of both.
Missing In Action
Many chimneys are left uncrowned, and the chimney top is simply the chase around the flue. That may be fine with extremely careful maintenance for a few years, but water damage is inexorably being done to the chimney. It is the crown that keeps rain and snow out of the chimney, so – if it is missing altogether – that is a bad difference to find.
Many more chimneys are crowned, but hastily and improperly, taking shortcuts that shorten the life of the chimney. Crowns are improperly sloped or flashed, and overhangs exist without important drip grooves and correct clearance. It is actually uncommon to see a properly topped chimney, with a great many left completely at the mercy of the elements.
The Chimney Top
If you are recognizing now that you mistook the chase for the crown, or you now know that the overhang is not adequate, your chimney first needs an inspection. Before doing anything about a crown, the condition of the chimney needs to be thoroughly checked by a chimney sweep. Water damage causes serious problems in chimneys, and you do not want to top yours until you are sure it is safe to use.
Once it is, that same chimney sweep can be of enormous assistance in either replacing an inadequate crown or putting the chimney’s first one on. If repairs to an existing crown are simple enough for some homeowners to handle themselves, your sweep will tell you so. It is likely, however, that more than the chimney’s crown needs attention if it is faulty, damaged, or completely missing.