Chimney Cowls vs Bird Guards: Which is Right for You

Don’t know your Chimney Cowl from your Bird guard, or your Cap from your Rotorvent?

If you’ve just moved to a new house or are renovating an old one you might find that you don’t have a chimney cowl - or even know what one is.

But installing a chimney cowl should be a high priority, not only to maintain a healthy chimney and to make sure your fire has a good draw but also to avoid any safety issues.

We’ve compiled a quick guide below on all the different types of chimney cowls there are and what they’re used for to point you in the right direction.


Chimney Cowl vs Bird Guard

Nesting Birds

What is a Chimney Cowl?

One of the main reasons to purchase a chimney cowl is to prevent rain from entering the chimney and coming into your house. This is important regardless of whether you are living in the house, it’s a renovation project that you are working on, or a holiday home. You don’t want rain coming into your home which can lead to damp and mould.

A purposely designed anti-downdraught chimney cowl will also improve the draw and prevent backflow. This will improve the effectiveness of your fire and stop the wind from blowing the smoke back into your living room.

Despite what many believe, a chimney cowl will not always keep birds and other wildlife out of your chimney. For this you will require a birdguard, which we go on to discuss below.

What is a Spinning Chimney Cowl?

A spinning chimney cowl features a ball-like top with fins that spin when being hit by wind. This creates a suction-like effect in your chimney and can greatly improve its draw.

This helps if you are struggling to ignite your fire or if the smoke stays down in the fireplace or stove which could be due to a lack of draw. A spinning chimney cowl can help the hot air and fumes to be taken up the flue pipe, helping your fire to burn more efficiently and combating downdraught.

It is also important to note that they should only be used on stoves that have a weak draw to begin with otherwise they can cause the stove to over fire.

What is a Birdguard?

Birds entering the chimney can cause damage to themselves, to the chimney stack, and even cause a fire, so it’s incredibly important to prevent them. This is before you even begin to consider the long-term impact of a bird nesting in your chimney.

This is as many birds attempt to build a nest in a chimney, jamming large sticks in to create a base and building it up with twigs, leaves and debris. Over time if a chimney is not swept the amount of materials in it can continue to rise. Sweeps often report numerous chimneys being filled to the rim with sticks, which could not only cause fires but lead to carbon dioxide poisoning.

There is also a slim chance that a bird could also get stuck in the chimney and die. This is traumatic for the bird and will lead to a nasty odour coming down into the living room.

A bird guard will prevent a bird and any other small creatures such as squirrels from entering your chimney. Some bird guards will have a dual purpose and prevent rainfall, animals, leaves and debris from entering much like a chimney cowl. These usually have the metal mesh around them as well as a solid cap on the top.

What is a Chimney Cap?

A chimney cap is used to close a disused chimneys. This is to stop any entry from rain, birds or animals but should only be used if there is no fire or any appliance in use. You must therefore ensure that a chimney cap is not present on your chimney if you've just moved into a new home.

Looking for Chimney Accessories?

With a growing range of chimney cowls, bird guards, stove pipes and more, we've got everything you could need for your project. These include accessories manufactured by trusted brands such as Colt Cowls.

If you're unsure of which chimney accessory is best for you, simply speak to our team online or by telephone. With over 40 years of experience in roofing, they will help you pick the ideal solution for your project whilst ensuring you make mega savings!