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What To Do if There Are Animals in Your Chimney

Your chimney system and fireplace is a cozy feature in your home – and you aren’t the only one who thinks so. One unexpected effect of having a chimney system in your home is that chimneys can draw the notice of animals who may seek shelter or even take up residence there. Knowing how to respond to this issue can protect the longevity of your system and prevent future headaches.

Fortunately for those in the South Orange area, Top Hat Tails is here to help.

Why Do Animals Like the Chimney?

squirrel relaxing on a stone wall or structureFrom your perspective, your chimney may not look that inviting. But consider it from the perspective of wildlife. The altitude and stability of your chimney ticks the boxes for many nesting birds, and birds and bats which roost will find the dark, sheltered, vertical surfaces of your flue attractive. Rodents notoriously find their way into nooks and crannies as they scavenge for food and seek refuge from predators. Excellent climbers like raccoons and squirrels may see your chimney as a potentially warm, dry, and cozy place to explore and make use of.

As charming as wildlife can be – from a distance – you can probably anticipate some problems with them living in this close proximity to you. It certainly renders your fireplace, wood stove, or furnace unusable until the animals have left, and it’s not always great for the animals either. While nimbler, flying animals may be able to navigate in and out of your flue, many other critters get stuck and chimneys and unfortunately meet an untimely end.

What Are the Risks of Animals in the Chimney?

Aside from not being able to use your home heating system, there are a number of hazards associated with wildlife guests.

  • First, keep in mind that your chimney is a ventilation system that opens two ways. You’d hope that the animals would escape back from the flue onto the roof. But it’s also possible for animals to find their way out of your fireplace or wood stove and into your living space. As startling as this is for you, it can also be alarming for the animals, which can become aggressive or cause damage as they seek escape from your home.
  • Wild animals can carry diseases and pass along parasites, so having them and their droppings in your living space can threaten your health.
  • They can also cause physical obstructions in your chimney that are hazardous. If your chimney is blocked, gases and smoke can’t vent properly – but they have to go somewhere, and that means they’re likely to enter your home environment. Smoke and gases such as carbon monoxide can put your family’s health in serious jeopardy.
  • Aside from affecting ventilation, blockages in chimneys become fire hazards. All it takes is an errant spark or excessive heat to a combustible substance to drastically increase the risk of a chimney or roof fire. So having nests, feathers, droppings, and other debris in your chimney isn’t only an inconvenience – it’s a safety risk!
  • One of the things that may bother you if animals are present is erratic noises, but beyond the inconvenience factor, the noises of nesting, gnawing, and scratching may also indicate damage to your flue liner, brick, and mortar.

All in all, for the health of your living space and chimney structure, you’re going to want to give your furry or feathered friends an eviction notice.

Who Do I Call for Animal Removal?

Some of the signs you may notice if you have animals in your chimney are strange noises, such as scratching and chirping, and unpleasant odors emanating from your fireplace. You may also notice debris around the fireplace or catch sight of them around the top of your chimney opening. If you’ve noticed this type of activity, it’s time to act.

Your instinct may be to handle the situation on your own, but it’s generally a good idea to call a wildlife professional who is trained in animal removal. Scaring the animal out by being noisy or otherwise inhospitable may work – but it may also scare the animal into your home or into another area of your chimney system where they can become trapped and difficult to access.

Also, animals that feel threatened or cornered can become dangerous. Animal control or a licensed wildlife removal service will have the experience, knowledge, and equipment to remove the animal as safely and humanely as possible.

With the animal removed, it’s critical to have your chimney inspected and swept, even if this had been done within the annual timeframe recommended. Why? To operate efficiently and safely, it’s imperative that there are no blockages in any area of your chimney system. Furthermore, an inspection may help identify the source of entry and create a plan for sealing it off or otherwise preventing access.

How Can I Prevent Future Intrusions?

a triangle chimney cap with a weather vane on top with horse decorThe animal is gone and your chimney is clear – but there’s one more step that shouldn’t be overlooked. Implementing preventative measures to avoid future animal infestations will save you time, money, and the stress of having to manage a removal.

Some ways to deter wildlife from your roof are by trimming low overhanging branches and, if problems are persistent, considering measures like motion-activation lights or ultrasonic devices.

But the best step you can take is likely to have a well-fitting chimney cap installed. A chimney cap sits at the top of the chimney flue, where it protects against the elements, animals, and debris entering your chimney while still allowing gases and smoke to escape. This isn’t only an excellent first line of defense against animals, but also against precipitation that can cause system deterioration. All in all, it’s an important investment in the life of your chimney.

Let Us Help

As alarming as realizing your sharing your home with wildlife can be, rest assured that we can help you handle it. We know chimneys – and we’re here to serve. Let us leverage our experience to help you keep your system running well and keep animals safely outside!

Call or book online today.

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