Chimney Sweep in Tarleton, Lancashire
Tarleton, Near Preston
Mon - Sat 8am - 8pm and Emergencies


What is the difference between a Chimney Cowl and a Bird Guard?

Why do I need to have one fitted? Here we will try and explain.

When we get calls from customers asking us to fit a “Cowl” to their chimney, we ascertain exactly what the reason is for the call. Often it is the case, that a chimney cowl is not actually required.

In all instances, any cowl fitted to a chimney pot must be suitable for the fuel type and appliance being used, this will eliminate the risk of dangerous fumes from Carbon Monoxide and furthermore, we would always recommend that the chimney be swept and inspected prior to fitting.

One of the main reasons for getting a Chimney Cowl fitted when using a solid fuel or wood burning appliance is that it can help reduce draughts or down-draught that causes issues within the property.

Often if there is a strong wind outside, draught can blow down the chimney and create discomfort within the room. This could be by means of smoke from the appliance when in use being drawn back into the room, or by a strong sooty odour emitting from the chimney, usually when the appliance is not lit.

Chimney Cowls

Examples of stainless-steel anti down draught cowls that also help give weather protection

There is another major point to consider here though!

Most assume that if a woodburning stove or fireplace is smoking back into their living space when lit, then there must be downdraught within the chimney. This may not be the case.

Often there are many other factors to take into consideration. It could well be that the chimney has lack of up-draught which could be due to several causes such as:

  • The height of the chimney. To creative natural draught or negative pressure, the chimney should achieve a minimum height of 4.5m from the appliance outlet to the termination
  • Lack of ventilation within the room space. All appliances, irrespective of the age of the property, require adequate air supply to function safely
  • Size of fireplace opening or area of the chimney
  • The chimney could quite simply be blocked or partially blocked through lack of maintenance and therefore will require Chimney Sweeping

Fitting a cowl to any of the above scenarios will unlikely solve the problem and will most likely hamper the up draught even further.

In addition to the illustrations above, there are other types of cowls, including stainless steel spinning cowls. Personally, I am not a massive fan of anything on top of a chimney that has moveable parts. If the moveable parts become ceased over time through soot and other deposits interfering with the mechanism, this will create major issues with dangerous smoke fumes not being able to exit the property safely and could again lead to carbon monoxide issues.

Other types of cowls will also be for gas appliances, but these must be fitted by a competent person, ideally Gas Safe registered

Chimney Cowls

Examples above of the type of cowls fitted to a gas fire

A Bird Guard is designed to prevent birds and other animals or vermin from either entering or nesting in the chimney which is a common problem.

  • It is quite common for live birds to get stuck in the chimney. This usually results in a sooty mess in the fireplace and can lead to hundreds of pounds worth of damage to décor and furnishings. By fitting a suitable and very cost-effective bird guard to your chimney pot will ensure the safety of both yourself and the birds/animals in your neighbourhood.
  • A bird guard made from stainless steel is recommended for solid fuel and wood burning appliances, although a powder coated product can be just as effective and sometimes a little less expensive.
  • A bird guard with a rain cap is suitable if you know your chimney is being targeted by nesting birds or if you want to reduce moisture ingress down the chimney.

Bird Guards

Examples of the type of bird/vermin and weather proofing cowls available

Remember, active bird nests in chimneys by law cannot be destroyed. Wildlife and Country Act, so it will not be possible to work on a chimney with an active nest until the birds have fledged. 

We can also get cowls for square chimney pots, octagonal chimney pots in any colour and are able to get pretty much any item required to solve any type of chimney issue burning any type of fuel. We even supply and fit caps and vents for disused chimney that are no longer in use, helping to reduce heat loss throughout your property.

Bird Guards

The products listed below are ONLY designed for venting DISUSED CHIMNEYS and MUST NOT be fitted to any live working appliance. Sometimes builders or roofers mistake these types of cowls as being suitable for use on working chimneys. THEY ARE NOT!!

Howard’s (Tarleton) carry full liability insurance and as well as being Master Chimney Sweep members of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, we are also HETAS registered and Gas Safe registered, as well as being Ladder and Roof Safety qualified. We have been doing what we do for almost 60 years. Furthermore, we have strict procedures in place for carrying out chimney related work to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the process.

All this for your added peace of mind and safety.

To discuss any issues with your chimney or to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Tel: 01772 812714 or  Click here to contact us

Local Master Chimney Sweep