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Rain Pans and Shrouds

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There is something about fireplaces and chimneys that causes multiple terms to be used for the same things. That “something” is the significant difference in the design and construction of masonry and pre-fabricated fireplace systems. When the latter are chased, though, “rain pans” are the equivalent of “crowns” and — to an extent — “shrouds” can be “caps”.

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The importance of rain pans is the same, too, since keeping water out of chimneys is critical regardless of where they are made. Shrouds are primarily decorative tops for rain pans, allowing homeowners to completely conceal metal flues. However, if a shroud is not placed on a rain pan, we are back to needing a “cap” for the exposed pre-fab flue.

What’s Up There?

Every flue needs a cover. If a pre-fabricated metal stack is the only thing projecting above the roof, it needs a “cap”. If a faux-brick or vinyl sided chase is around it, that needs a rain pan, and you can top the rain pan with a shroud. You can also just top the chase and encircle the flue with a rain pan, and then put a cap on the pipe.

What exactly you need, therefore, depends on what is above your roof that needs protection from water and how much aesthetics matter. The faux chase around a factory-built chimney offers protection for the metal pipe inside it but it can be damaged by water itself. Like masonry crowns, rain pans are designed to steer water away from the ‘chase’ so that it can continue to protect the flue and house.

That coverage should not be viewed as optional, even though the choice between a shroud for the pan or a cap for the flue really is. Like caps on masonry chimneys, shrouds can help to keep animals and debris out, in addition to topping the flue. The chimney cap does the same for an exposed flue, so the choice lies more in decorative taste than in terms of protection.