Most of our customers come to us asking the same questions about their chimneys. A homeowner in Howard County recently contacted our chimney services company and asked what is a chimney crown, and how does it work?  It’s vital to understand chimney crowns, as it can be the source of various problems down the road. Chimney crowns repairs are one of the most common repairs.   Luckily for you, we are here to explain everything you need to know about chimney crowns.

floating cast chimney crown

What is a chimney crown?

Sometimes referred to as a chimney wash, a chimney crown is a large slab of brick or concrete that covers the top opening of the chimney.  Finding the Chimney Crown is relatively easy, as its name suggests the rest on top of your chimney on its last layer of brick. It is typically about three to four inches thick and slopes down at the edge of the bricks.  Most chimney crowns are concrete, but they can also be metal or stone. They are not to be mistaken for the chimney caps, which are metal and cover the chimney flue. If you wish to know more about what chimney caps, read this article.

There are a few types of crowns:

  • Cast-in-place: Suitable for large chimneys and made of concrete.  Cast in place chimneys involves using steel forms to construct the chimney crown on-site.
  • Precast: Ideal for chimneys that are 16×16 or smaller or new construction.  Precast crowns are not suitable for chimney jobs involving large chimneys.  The weight of the concrete makes this solution impractical for larger chimneys.
  • Floating crown: Floating cast crowns are built with an overhang that is approximately 1 1/2″ to 2″ above the chimney. Floating cast chimney crowns require more time to install than the other options.  As a result, the service cost may be slightly higher. In most cases floating cast crowns last twice as long.  In most cases, longevity makes it worth the minor increase in cost.

cast in place chimney crown

Why do chimneys have crowns?

The primary role of the chimney crown is to keep water from entering the stack. It is considered the first line of defense for the overall masonry. If the crown should fail, it can cause your chimney to leak.  Chimney leaks can cause the masonry to crumbing, leading to severe structural damage. By keeping the chimney crown in good condition, you can keep your chimney and the rest of your fireplace in good shape. You will avoid costly, time-consuming chimney repairs.

What are the common chimney problems?

There are several problems that can arise with your chimney crown. Be aware of issues such as:

  • Sealant problems
  • Cracked crowns
  • Masonry degradation

Scheduling a chimney service company like ours to inspect your chimney will help identify chimney problems.  You may encounter all sorts of issues based on many factors such as the age of your chimney, its construction quality, and how often is it inspected.   Annual inspections catch problems in their early stages.  Chimney crown problems can also lead to issues with cracks in the flue. Chimney crowns or one of the many common causes of chimney leaks.

repaired chimney crown

What maintenance is required for chimney crowns?

Just as you should schedule roof inspections periodically, you want to have a chimney sweep inspect your entire chimney inside and out. They can identify if there are issues so that you can schedule a chimney repair. You may also be able to conduct a visual inspection on your own to see if the chimney crown is cracked or damaged in some way.   However, your visual inspection is not a suitable replacement for professional service.  Annual inspections are the best way to catch problems in their early stages.

Conclusion

Chimney crowns are one of the most critical parts of your chimney system.  They are often made of concrete, and there are several options for structuring them.  The best way to prevent chimney crown problems is by hiring a professional chimney service company to inspect our chimney every year.  Annual inspections will not prevent problems.  However, it will result in catching issues before they become costly.

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