Chimneys are a tempting prospect for animals: They are warm, dark, sheltered spaces that can seem ideal for nesting or for a nap. Birds, squirrels, raccoons and bats are common chimney visitors, and once inside, they can cause serious problems.
Animals in your chimney can introduce disease and pests, like fleas, into your home. Some animals — most notably squirrels — can make their way past your damper and into your home. Once inside, they can damage your home and your furniture, and cause general mayhem. Animal nests and trapped animals can cause blockages in your chimney that can pose a fire hazard or that can push carbon monoxide from your fires back into your home, putting your family at risk. And while some animals, such as birds, bats and raccoons, can enter and exit your chimney at will, many animals that enter your chimney will become trapped and die. That causes a dangerous blockage and can cause a horrible, decaying smell to fill your home.
Once an animal or nest is lodged inside your chimney, it requires professional removal. The nest or the animal also can cause costly damage. That’s why it is best to prevent animal intrusions into your chimney.
When it comes to keeping things out of your chimney — whether birds, animals, water or debris — you can rely on a sturdy, properly installed chimney cap. A good chimney cap is small, metal peak attached to the top of your chimney flue by a fine metal cage. The peak keeps out water, while the mesh keeps out animals and debris. When a chimney cap is firmly in place, it is nearly impossible for animals to enter your chimney, save some small species of bats that can make their way in through almost any tiny opening.
Another secure way to protect your chimney from animal intrusion is by installing a top-sealing damper. Like traditional throat dampers, top-sealing dampers are opened when a fire is burning to let out smoke and closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to keep out drafts. As the name suggests, top-sealing dampers are installed on top of the chimney crown and form a tight seal around the top of your chimney when closed. That tight seal keeps out animals, birds, debris, water and drafts.
While annual chimney inspections won’t keep animals from entering or nesting in your chimney, they will ensure that there are no blockages from animals or nests within your chimney. That is one more reason annual chimney inspections are crucial for keeping your home safe from fires and carbon monoxide.
If your chimney is unprotected from animal intrusions, or if noises or smells from your chimney have you suspecting that an animal or bird has found its way into your chimney, call The Chimney Sweeper to schedule an appointment today! We’ll inspect your chimney for animals and nests, and we can talk to you about installing a chimney cap or top-sealing damper to keep your chimney safe from animal intrusions.