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A cricket, also referred to as a saddle, is a peaked, structural piece used to divert water and debris from around a chimney. Without a cricket, debris can get wedged behind the chimney and cause the roof material to decay prematurely. Crickets are used on the back or high side of the chimney and they are usually angled at the same pitch as the roof, but they don't have to be. Crickets can be installed with or without flashing, depending on their size, and most are not visible from the ground.
Making sure a cricket is properly installed is important to the integrity of the entire roofing system. Water is insidious in finding the slightest flaw in the roofing plane. If water is allowed to enter the attic, it can gradually rot the rafters and cause mold and mildew to form inside your home.