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Spring has officially arrived, and with the warmer temperatures and longer days come new babies for many different kinds of animals. Unfortunately, many birds and small mammals may view your chimney as the perfect place to build a nest and raise their young. While many animals and their nests can be safely and humanely removed if they get into your chimney, one cannot: the chimney swift.
A chimney swift can be recognized by their size, color, movements, and sounds. Chimney swifts are small birds with narrow bodies and long wings. While up close they are a brown-gray color, they may appear black when backlit against the sky. Swifts fly and twist side to side erratically, and have a distinct high pitched chirp.
Although chimney swifts spend their winters in South America, they migrate north to the eastern United States and Canada each spring to nest and raise their young. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Their ability to travel over long distances and through a variety of habitats exposes them to a wide range of microorganisms.”
Chimney swifts got their name because of their unique ability to build nests that stick to the side of slippery flue tiles. While swifts traditionally prefer to nest in hollow or dead trees, the increase in size of cities, suburbs, and agricultural areas has forced them to adapt.
If birds take up residence in your chimney, your first reaction may be to have them removed as soon as possible. Unfortunately for many homeowners, chimney swifts and several other species of migratory bird are protected under the Federal Migratory Birth Treaty Act. This law makes it illegal for anyone to remove or destroy chimney swift nests, eggs, or hatchlings, with severe fines and penalties for anyone who violates the law.
Luckily for those dealing with an unexpected nest of chimney swifts, the birds have a relatively short nesting period. Chimney swifts can lay, hatch, and raise their young in about six weeks. Likewise, as they nest in the spring and summer when fireplaces are not typically in use, the presence of a chimney swift nest of often little more than a minor inconvenience.
Because chimney swifts cannot be removed once they have taken up residence in your chimney, the best thing homeowners can do to prevent them is to have their chimney regularly inspected. A chimney inspection can ensure that there are no areas for chimney swifts to enter through, such as a damaged chimney cap.
Likewise, because chimney swifts are migratory they tend to return to the same nesting ground each year. Because of this, if you have chimney swifts find their way into your chimney it is extremely important to have the chimney inspected and repaired after they leave. If not, you may find that your chimney becomes an annual summer home for a family of chimney swifts.
If you think you have birds in your chimney, contact Lord’s Chimney today. Our expert technicians will be able to find out if they can be removed as well as help prevent them from getting in again.
A fireplace can be a wonderful addition to any room in the house where the family might gather, providing warmth, light, and a cozy ambiance. However, a fireplace system has to be carefully maintained to make sure that they common problems that affect chimneys don’t impact the safety and beauty of your family’s favorite gathering spot. We as homeowners owe it to ourselves to remain constantly vigilant as far as the condition of any part of our homes are concerned. Like every appliance or piece of furniture we own, a chimney requires just as much attention; one could even argue that it requires more attention.
Creosote, the byproduct of burning wood, builds up on the sides of the flue system and the firebox area. Over time, this buildup can cause blockages that result in flue fires or potentially a whole-house fire. A buildup of as little as 1/8 – 1/4” is more than enough to create a fire hazard. Regular cleaning eliminates the chance for creosote to develop on chimney surfaces.
Birds, squirrels, or raccoons, among other animals, get in the chimney and cause issues inside that include smells, noises, blockage, and even fires. In addition to these concerns, the animals themselves may clog the chimney and, in some cases, could even carry diseases that could spread into your home. Chimney caps with spark arrestors are a common means to prevent animals from entering the space and nesting.
Because of the location of your chimney, leaves and debris can build up in and around the chimney year round. These things can clog the chimney, which is far more dangerous than it sounds. If the chimney is clogged, it will keep smoke and combustible gases in the home rather than letting them out. This can lead to any number of health risks as well as an increased risk of fire.
While the firebox of the fireplace system can be easily seen and therefore monitored by the homeowner, the chimney itself commonly faces a number of troubles that are often caught only by a chimney professional. Your annual chimney inspection, sweeping and cleaning will help to ensure its safety and continued functionality for years to come. You can always come to Lords Chimney with any of your questions or needs. Our staff is always here to help.
Chimney Inspections and What They Cover
It is highly recommended that homeowners have their chimneys inspected on an annual basis. Having a professional come in to look at the chimney is the best way to spot any potential hazards before they endanger the household. Before finding an inspector to do the job, it is important to understand exactly what should be included in an annual inspection.
One of the first things that a chimney inspector will look at is the structural integrity of the chimney itself. Over time, a chimney can become damaged or weak, especially if there is excessive exposure to rain and snow. They will make sure that the actual structure is still strong and does not pose any risks to the rest of the home.
In addition to looking over the general structure of the chimney, the inspector will look at the individual parts. This will include an inspection of the flue liner and damper, among other important elements. They will be able to tell the homeowner whether any individual parts of their chimney require maintenance or repair. Remember, it is necessary for all parts of the chimney to be in good working condition in order for it to function safely.
A chimney inspector will be able to tell whether there is a buildup of creosote in the chimney. Creosote is the substance left behind after treated wood and coal have been used for making a fire in the fireplace. It can pose a number of different risks, including internal illness and irritations to the skin and eyes. It is also highly flammable, so a home with a buildup of the material is at a greater risk for a chimney fire than those who have it inspected and cleaned.
During a chimney inspection, there may also be evidence of material clogging the chimney. In many cases, this is the result of animals that have made their home in the flue. A clogged chimney is a serious problem because it prevents smoke and gas from exiting the home the way they are supposed to. As a result, a chimney fire could ignite or the family inside of the home could become ill when they are exposed to the gasses.
It takes specialized training and experience to properly and thoroughly inspect a chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America is the organization that trains and certifies all qualified chimney technicians. It is necessary to only use a CSIA certified inspector in order to get the most reliable results. The CSIA website offers a useful tool to help find a qualified technician in the area.
To some homeowners, a chimney inspection just seems like an extra chore and an unnecessary expense. However, an annual inspection is the only way to make sure that the chimney is in good working condition and not putting the home — or your family at risk. Be sure to use a chimney inspector who has been trained and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America in order to get the best results.