Preventing Animal Chimney Intrusions

Have you been noticing scurrying and scratching sounds coming from your chimney? Then, chances are, there’s some type of wildlife in there! With more and more trees being cut down for construction and development purposes, critters like birds, bats, squirrels, raccoons, and more seek refuge in chimneys, viewing them as an ideal spot to build nests, hibernate, and stay protected from bad weather and predators.

Unfortunately, while this set-up is great for them, it isn’t so ideal for you. Not only can wild animals bring diseases into your home, but they also invite other hazards, like clogs in your flue, bad odors, and fire hazards. In the end, your fireplace and chimney will not function as safely or efficiently, and you could wind up with some serious damages. (Or at the minimum, a big mess.)

Here at All Seasons Chimney, we get plenty of calls about animals in chimneys, and we’re experts at preventing them from entering your system. Give us a call today to learn more!

What Animals Are in My Flue?

Preventing Animal Chimney Intrusions - Poughkeepsi NY - All Seasons Chimney raccoonSo.. is there any way to know what type of critter is invading your space? Well, birds are pretty easily identifiable by their chirping sounds. Hungry baby birds are known for making tons of noise, so you won’t have to listen too hard or long to determine whether they’re present or not.

Other times you might hear scurrying noises, which indicate you’re likely dealing with squirrels, raccoons, or opossums.

And while the critters we’ve listed are the most common animals found in flues, that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones you might discover. Homeowners have also been known to found rodents (like mice and rats), bats, and even bees in there, too!

The Hazards of Animals in Your Flue

Knowing what kind of threats and inconveniences animals in your flue can cause (and how these can put your home and family at risk) is important for understanding just why preventative maintenance is so vital.

Here are some a biggest issues created when wildlife invades your chimney system:

  • Chimney Fires: When animals enter your chimney, they generally bring leaves, twigs, and other nesting materials with them. These things are all highly flammable, and they can increase the likelihood of experiencing a chimney fire, especially if your creosote levels are already high. Chimney fires cause significants amount of damage, and they make your system unsuitable for use until all (typically expensive) repairs are addressed.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: The more blocked up your flue is with animals, nesting materials, and their young, the more poorly your system will vent. And if you light a fire, unaware that your system is clogged, your risk of experiencing carbon monoxide exposure will heighten significantly. Carbon monoxide is highly poisonous, causing hundreds of deaths in the United States every single year, and its colorless, odorless nature makes it nearly impossible to detect. Needless to say, doing everything possible to minimize the risk of exposure is imperative!
  • Smoke Exposure: Another risk associated with clogged vents is an increased likelihood of smoking backing up and entering your home. Not only does this ruin the aesthetic of your living space, but it can be dangerous if too much is inhaled, especially for those who already have respiratory-related issues.
  • Foul Odors: Animals are known for inviting some pretty unpleasant odors. They’re not always known for keeping clean, and should they dedicate in your system, you’re really in for an unpleasant experience. Worst-case scenario, an animal could get stuck and die inside your chimney, which would invite some pretty foul smells as the creature decomposes.
  • Bug/Pest Infestation: Along with bad smells, animals (both dead and alive) are known for inviting all kinds of insects and parasites. Not good.
  • Legal Restrictions: Now, most animals can be removed from your chimney by specialists, but this isn’t the case for some. The chimney swift, for example, is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which means removing them or their young is actually illegal! Once they leave, you can cap your chimney to prevent their return, but until then you’re stuck without a fireplace.

Invest in a Chimney Cap & Animal Guard

So, now you know which animals are most likely to enter your flue and what kind of issues they can cause… but what’s the best way to keep them out for good?

First things first, it’s imperative to have a well-fitted and properly installed chimney cap at the top of your flue. The chimney cap is the device that sits at the top of your flue, covering the opening, so that no curious critters can gain easy access. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and make a huge impact on keeping your system better protected – definitely a worthwhile investment!

Here at All Seasons, we offer chimney caps in both stainless steel and copper, so you won’t have to worry about yours breaking down or rusting any time soon. We’d be happy to work with your unique set-up and budget, ensuring you get exactly what you’re looking for without breaking the bank.

We also strongly encourage our customers to invest in animal guards, if they aren’t already built into your current cap. These are essentially mesh metal sides that further prevent critters from entering your chimney, while still along smoke and necessary fumes to escape.

Animal guards can also prevent hot sparks from jumping out of the chimney and starting an accidental fire, and they work to keep leaves, sticks, and debris from getting inside, too. We carry a wide range of animal guards, and we also have a variety of chimney caps that have animal guards built into the sides. Give us a call today to discuss your options!

Other Functions of a Chimney Cap

So, yes, a chimney cap keeps birds and wild animals out of the chimney. But there are many other functions it offers as well! These include:

  • preventing rain and melted snow and ice from entering your chimney
  • preventing sparks from landing on flammable roofing materials and causing accidental fires
  • preventing downdrafts, thus allowing you to keep your energy bills in check
  • preventing sticks, twigs, leaves, and other outside debris from flying in and causing clogs

Smoking Animals Out… Yay or Nay?

Preventing Animal Chimney Intrusions - Poughkeepsi NY - All Seasons Chimney squirrelNow, preventative measures are great and all, but let’s say animals are already in your flue. What can be done? First things first, do not try and smoke them out! The Wildlife Hotline, as well as countless other wildlife and fire safety organizations, strongly advise against this tactic.

Smoking animals out of them chimney can cause serious harm to the critters, which is inhumane and, depending on what’s inside, can be illegal, as is the case with chimney swifts. It also creates some huge fire hazards, putting your home at risk of experiencing damage and your family as risk of experiencing injury.

The best solution? Contact us! Here at All Seasons Chimney, we have the resources and know-how to handle the situation and get you back to where you need to be.

Don’t Wait to Reach Out!

For over 25 years, our experts have been taking care of the chimneys in Poughkeepsie and all of its surrounding areas. For the best protection against animal invasions, rely on us to install a quality chimney cap and/or animal guard before it’s too late. We offer wide variety of options, so you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your system, no problem!

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out today!