When you clicked on this article, your first thought might have been, "Why on earth do I need a chimney cricket?" Or, better yet, "What is a chimney cricket?"
Well, it's a good thing you asked because how would you continue living life without in-depth knowledge of chimney crickets and all their glory?
- golden cricket
Before we begin discussing what a chimney cricket is and how it works, why don't I give you a little history on how the chimney cricket came to be known as...a cricket.
History of the chimney cricket
Truth be told, no one really knows how the chimney cricket got its name. Some people call it a chimney saddle. Which seems a bit more appropriate considering the materials straddle the chimney and act as a covering.
However, you could dive deep into the lexicon of language and still come out with a vague understanding of why this object, that acts and looks nothing like a cricket, is called so. Some people trace it back to bar stools of the 1700s. Cricket tables, as they were called, had folding tops and three legs that steadied them on wobbly surfaces (or underneath wobbly guests.)
- cricket history
Others trace the word origin back to the French word besace, which typically refers to a wallet or saddlebag. Though, none stretch the myth of the chimney cricket quite as far as those tying it to the springy little bug whose shape is still cast in gold and set above a hearth for good luck. Legends, dating as far back as ancient China, stated crickets brought wealth and wellness to anyone in their presence.
These stories spread to jolly ole England, then a "slightly" well-known author, named Charles Dickens, wrote a book titled A Cricket on the Hearth. From there, a tapestry woven with fact and fiction covered the hearth industry and the real history of the chimney cricket. Today, you may not be able to find the true origin of the chimney cricket, but you will certainly find tiny symbols of prosperity lying across mantels of hopeful hearth owners around the country.
What does a chimney cricket do?
Now that we fully understand no one has any idea where a chimney cricket got its name from, you need not worry, because one thing we do know is how to use it.
A chimney cricket ( or saddle ) is a tent-shaped structure that redirects water on a roof around the chimney system. It is made out of materials like steel or aluminum that are resistant to water. If your chimney is made out of wood or brick, touching the roofline, or slanted towards your roofline, you will need a chimney cricket.
Many people struggle with roof leaks due to not having a chimney cricket to divert hard rain away from the walls of their chimney system. When water flows down the slant of your roof, it can quickly pool and absorb through the porous surfaces of your chimney. When you add a cricket, water parts over the slant of the cricket and shoots down the sides, away from your chimney, and into your gutters.
Unfortunately, the bigger the chimney, the more vulnerable it is to water damage. Any chimney, over 30 inches wide, is highly recommended to have a cricket installed. The good news is, once you get a cricket, you can avoid years of roof leaks and costly repairs from damage caused by overflowing water.
Types of Chimney Crickets
- cricket built with house
Built with the house
It is typically easier and more cost-effective to build the cricket at the same time you are building the rest of the chimney structure. This set up will give the cricket rafters, a ridge board, and roof decking while functioning as a small wall leaning against the chimney itself.
The edge of the cricket that lays flush against the chimney receives flashing (that we will discuss in a moment), to ensure the seal is tightly fastened and there is no room for water to enter. The cricket is covered with the same roofing material as the rest of the roof and blends in beautifully, like one solid structure.
If you don't get a cricket made with the house, then you will need a galvanized steel or aluminum-based addition made from a local shop. Steel is less expensive but also less durable. It can rust and won't last nearly as long as aluminum.
Aluminum does not corrode and can easily last a lifetime, though it is more expensive. Depending on your budget and needs, either option can do the job well and give you great protection against rook leaking.
If you decide to add a cricket to your chimney, there are a couple things you need to know before you make a purchase. First, it will cost roughly $100 to create a cricket for a three-foot-wide chimney. Once you select the shop that you want to create the cricket, you must discuss the following things before they make the appliance.
- cricket install
1) The roof pitch of the slope the cricket will rest on when installed.
2) The width of the chimney at the base. It is usually best to add about ¼ inch to this measurement to ensure the fit is not too tight.
3) Verify that all seems will be sealed with solder or long pfe sealant.
4) The material of the chimney. If stone or rough brick is used, the shop can incorporate a flexible flashing to the cricket to help get a tighter seal.
Once the piece is created and you are ready for installation, don't forget the following:
1) The seams of any cricket or chimney flashing should always be covered by the next piece of flashing above it. Start from the low side and work your way up, covering the next piece of chimney flashing over the edge of the previous one. This ensures that as water flows, it will drop down the upper flashing onto the surface of the lower ones, and not under them.
2) It's best to use a counter flashing method to firmly secure all chimney flashing. The counter flashing method allows for movement to occur when strong winds make the chimney system shift. So, anchoring chimney flashing to the chimney system can create stiffness in the system you want to avoid.
- cricket on roof
3) Not all sealants are the same. Spending a few extra dollars on a high-quality poly-based sealant can save you the hassle of resealing every few years. Low cost, silicone or tar-based sealers will start to crack within 5 years, leaving you with a "fun, new project" to work on.
4) You need 1 1/4 nails roofing nails to secure the edge of the cricket to the roof. Run sealant under the edge of the cricket, then press into place while nailing it down.
5) Seal all nail heads with a bead of sealant and double-check that each piece of flashing is lapped over the lower piece for proper installation.
Now that you know tons of fun information about the origin of the cricket name and you've learned about cricket uses and installation, I believe we have reached the end of this article. I hope this has helped guide you in deciding on which chimney cricket to buy and how to properly install it so you can be roof leak-free for years to come.