Our Company Blog

Critters In The Fireplace

Critters In The Fireplace Image - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyA quiet evening at home is disrupted by scurrying, scratching, crying, or clawing sounds coming from the chimney. You have critters in the fireplace – but now what do you do?

Even animals that find their way into your chimney may not be able to get back out. Because of this, it is important to contact a wildlife rescue group or chimney sweep company experienced in safely removing animals as soon as possible.

How did the critters get in?

From small squirrels to large raccoons, animals view chimneys as safe, protected areas to build nests and hide from predators. This means that animals will sometimes do whatever it takes to get into a chimney – even to the point of damaging the masonry or other chimney components.

One of the most common ways that critters get into your fireplace is by a damaged chimney cap. Even tiny holes and gaps in the mesh or wire sides may be big enough to allow a small bird or rodent to squeeze through. Likewise, larger animals such as raccoon have been known to worsen chimney damage in an effort to get into the fireplace.

Unfortunately, only raccoons are able to climb the slick walls of the chimney again and again; because of this, other animals may quickly become stuck, trapped, or disoriented in the dark chimney flue once they get in. Trapped animals often sound frantic, scratching, clawing, and beating their wings against the flue in an effort to get out.

How do I get the critters out?

It is important to leave animal removal to the professionals no matter how big – or small – the critter in your chimney is. Some birds, such as chimneys swifts, are protected by law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be removed until after they have nested; an animal removal professional will identify the type of animal in the chimney and help safely remove the critters with minimal chimney damage.

If you have animal in your chimney it is important to leave the damper fully closed. Even partially opening the damper can create a space large enough for the animals to squeeze into your fireplace. This then gives them access to the rest of your home; a bird trapped in a chimney is much easier to remove than one flying around your living room! Homeowners should also not “smoke out” any animals; doing this can further disorient or even kill the animals in the chimney while potentially igniting nesting materials and other debris.

Keeping critters out

A well maintained and regularly inspected chimney is often the best line of defense against animal entry. Chimney sweeps can help identify any areas of damage or deterioration where animals could potentially get in; likewise, if you’ve had animal entry in the past we can help identify the areas the critters are getting in.

From squirrels to swifts, critters can cause significant damage to your chimney system. If you have animals in your chimney or have had problems with animal entry in the past, contact Lords Chimney today!

Chimney Caps Keep Animals Out

Animals love chimneys; whether it is raccoons or squirrels, roof rats or birds, many different types of animals view chimneys as a safe, protected space to nest, have their young, or hide from predators. Unfortunately, animal entry can cause serious damage to your chimney, as well as put you and your family at risk.

When an animal gets into your chimney, it can be harmful to them and damaging to your chimney. However, it is possible to avoid animal entry with regular chimney maintenance and a good chimney cap.

Chimney Caps Keep Animals Out - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyHow animals get in

The most common cause of animal entry into chimneys is a missing or damaged chimney cap. The chimney cap sits at the top of the flue, covering and protecting the flue from animals and the elements. While the solid metal top of the chimney cap prevents water from getting in, the mesh or wire sides serve two purposes: letting smoke out and preventing animals from getting in.

If they chimney cap is damaged in any way, it may be easier for animals to get in. Small holes, dents, damaged mesh, or missing screws might seem too minor, but even these small issues can leave spaces for animal entry. Birds and small mammals often only need a few inches of space to wiggle through, while raccoons have been known to claw or bite weak areas of chimney caps to create larger holes.

How animals damage your chimney

Even a tiny animal can create a big problem in your chimney. Below are some of the ways that animals can damage your chimney.

  •  Chimney cap: Animals can create or worsen damage to the chimney cap. This can leave your chimney susceptible to water and debris getting in – as well as more animals in the future.
  •  Flue liner: Sharp claws and talons can scratch and chip the delicate flue liner. Areas of damage in the liner can expose the surrounding building materials to heat or gasses from the chimney and may require your chimney to be relined.
  • Debris: Animals rarely come into your chimney empty handed. Dry nesting materials in the chimney can ignite if the fireplace is used, putting you at greater risk for chimney fire. Likewise, many wild animals also carry bacteria, bugs, and other diseases.

Keeping animals out

The best way to keep animals out of your chimney is by having a quality, well-fitted and correctly installed chimney cap. A quality chimney cap protects the area of your chimney that is most susceptible to animal entry, as well as keeps water and debris from entering your chimney. Regular chimney inspections can also be used to spot damage to the chimney cap or other areas of the chimney before animals can get in.

At Lords Chimney, we are the animal removal experts; not only can we safely get the animals out, but we can also prevent them from coming back with a quality chimney cap. Contact us today to learn more about how the chimney cap protects your fireplace system from animal entry.

Chimney Swifts

With spring just around the corner, many animals will begin looking for places to build their nests and lay their eggs. Unfortunately, some birds may view your chimney as the perfect nesting place for their young ones.

One animal that is well known for trying to nest in chimneys is the chimney swift – it’s even in their name! While it may not seem like a major problem, a chimney swift nest in your chimney can be a serious nuisance as they are a protected species that cannot be moved. The following information about chimney swifts can help homeowners recognize these birds, understand how they get into chimneys, and find ways to keep them out.

Chimney Swifts - Houston TX - Lords Chimney

What are chimney swifts?

Chimney swifts are very small grey and brown birds with cigar shaped bodies and wide, short bills. Chimney swifts are easily identified by their distinctive chirp as well as their sharp, jerky movements when flying. While chimney swifts spend their non-breeding winters in South America, they migrate back to North America for the spring nesting season each year. 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.”

Why chimney swifts love to nest in chimneys

In year’s past, chimney swifts preferred to nest in hollow or dead trees. However, as cities have grown larger and wooded areas are harder to find, chimney swifts have been forced to adapt. In fact, chimney swifts got their name because they often seek out chimneys as their nesting sites.

Chimney swifts most commonly find their way into uncapped chimneys or chimneys with damaged chimney caps. Because they are so small, even the smallest hole in the netting or mesh of a chimney cap can be big enough for a tiny swift to fit through. Because they are a migratory bird that will return year after year to the same nesting site, it is important to have your chimney repaired as soon as the swifts have left to avoid their return.

I have swifts in my chimney – now what?

When you first discover an animal has nested in your chimney, the natural reaction is to want them removed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, chimney swifts are a protected species whose nests cannot be moved.

Chimney swifts, along with a variety of other migratory birds, are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This law bans the removal or destruction of any migratory bird nests that have eggs or hatchlings. Thankfully for homeowners, chimney swifts have a short nesting cycle; in the span of about six weeks, the birds will nest, lay and hatch eggs, and have their hatchlings leave the nest.

While chimney swifts are a nuisance, they are a protected species that cannot be removed once they have built their nests. Because of this, they best way to keep them out is by preventative measures like spark arrestors or netting. For more information on chimney swifts and how to keep them out of your chimney this year, contact Lords Chimney today!