Have you noticed mysterious sounds or smells coming from the area surrounding your furnace, stove or fireplace chimney? Droppings and debris filtering into your firebox? Maybe some movement on your roof near the chimney opening has caught your eye? Animals can find their way into chimneys from time to time seeking shelter or safety from the elements and predators, and this is likely what’s causing these sensations in your home.

Why would an animal enter a chimney? It’s not as surprising or infrequent an occurrence as you might think.

To various birds, rodents, and mammals, a chimney can appear to be an attractive resting spot. Dark, secluded, and elevated, chimneys bear likenesses to the natural roosting spots of bats and nesting spots for birds, and capable climbers like squirrels, raccoons, and rodents may be drawn to chimney openings, as well.

Animals in Your Chimney: Issues They Can Cause

If you suspect an animal infestation, it’s important to take action. While it may seem fairly harmless to play host to a family of bats or a wayward raccoon, it’s ultimately not a kindness to them. Furthermore, the effects on your home environment can be damaging in both the short term and long term.

  • a squirrel sitting on the peak of a roofHaving entered, animals can become trapped in your chimney and die.
  • Animals can cause unwanted smells and disruptive noises in your living space.
  • Animals may create obstructions in your chimney, increasing the risk of harmful gases (like carbon monoxide) entering your home. Blockages also increase your risk of chimney or roof fires.
  • Damage to your chimney system can occur through typical animal behaviors such as gnawing, nesting, and scratching.
  • Animals can carry parasites and diseases, and there are health risks linked to close proximity with animal droppings.
  • Seeking escape, critters can find their way into your home through the firebox. It can be difficult to direct them outside, and panicked animals can cause damage or injury. We’ve all familiar with scenes of comedies where an animal is loose in a family home – but it’s really only funny when it’s happening on the tv screen!

It’s inconvenient and concerning to discover that an animal has made a home out of your chimney. But if this has happened to you, don’t panic. We can help you navigate the situation, rectify and take steps to prevent reinfestation in the future.

How to Respond to an Animal in Your Chimney

Once you’ve confirmed that you have animals in your chimney, the first action step is removal. Call animal control – they’ll have the expertise, skills, and tools to know how to help remove the animal as humanely as possible.

two birds sitting on top of a chimneyThat said, some animals won’t be able to be removed immediately, specifically in the case of chimney swifts. These small, gray birds appear in Wisconsin in the spring. Because they roost rather than perch, chimneys provide ideal surfaces for them to build nests. While you may want your chimney cleared out, chimney swifts are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which means they can’t be removed under penalty of law until hatchlings have left the nest.

After the animal(s) have been removed, your next call should be to your chimney pro. You’ll need your chimney professionally swept to ensure that all areas of the chimney are clear and free of debris, such as twigs, droppings, nests, and feathers. Your chimney should be inspected annually, but even if you’ve recently had your chimney inspected and swept, an animal infestation warrants having it swept and reinspected again.

Having your chimney swept by a CSIA certified professional will help ensure that your fireplace, stove or furnace will be clean and safe to use again during the burning season.

The final step in managing an animal infestation is to prevent it from recurring. This will protect your entire chimney system and help safeguard your investment in your home – and save you the headache of dealing with removal again.

Chimney Components That Keep Animals Out

Now that your chimney is free of critters and clean, be sure to ask your chimney technician for advice on practical solutions geared to your specific home situation. Two measures that will likely be recommended are chimney caps and/or dampers.

Chimney caps are positioned at the top of the chimney opening and serve as the first line of defense against not only animals, but also other debris and precipitation. Chimney caps vent smoke and gases, but still serve as a physical barrier against the elements. Your chimney technician will help you choose the right chimney cap for your home.

A top-sealing damper is another possible solution to wildlife woes. Dampers help control ventilation, and top-sealing dampers can also prevent animals from being able to enter your home via your chimney system.

Being diligent about annual chimney system inspections can help you stay on top of a number of potential issues, animal issues included. While searching your system from top to bottom, your technician may be able to spot signs of animal activity or potential points of entry. Trimming tree branches that overhang your chimney area can also make it more difficult for animals to access.

Let Us Help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by an animal infestation in your chimney, suspect a creature may be visiting, or simply want to act preventatively, give us a call at 414-626-9280 today to see how we can be of service. We’ll do all we can to keep your chimney operating safely and efficiently – and free of unexpected house guests!

You can also reach out online – thanks for trusting us.