Sometimes it seems nothing can stop a determined squirrel from crawling down your chimney, but a chimney cap is your best line of defense. The cap has grated sides and a sturdy hood that fits snugly on top of the chimney to prevent critters, rain and debris from entering.
Installing the cap is relatively easy. The challenge is getting onto the roof and carefully getting yourself over to the chimney. There you need to inspect the flue and measure its inside dimensions so you know what size cap to buy. The installation is as simple as inserting the flue tabs of the cap into the chimney and using a screwdriver to fasten four screws around the outside of the chimney cap base to hold it in place.
You’ll find chimney caps sold at home centers and lumberyards in a range of sizes from 9 inches square to 13- by18 inches in black metal or stainless steel. You’ll notice that the package lists a minimum and maximum opening size, so choose one whose range fits your chimney.
A handyman will charge about $157 to inspect and install a chimney cap, which includes labor and material. If you’re willing to do the high-wire work, you can buy a cap for $55 and install it yourself, pocketing a 65 percent saving. If you do it yourself, double-check your tools before you venture up there. On the first inspection, don’t forget to bring a measuring tape; when installing, don’t forget any tools.
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