Those who have a chimney know there are risks of animals coming into the chimney flue. There are quite a few animals that will make homes out of your chimney when it is not in use. These animals include birds, raccoons, squirrels, and bats. Out of all these animals, birds are the most common.

Well, the most common bird to inhabit your chimney is the chimney swift. A smaller bird that is similar in size to a blue jay or ‘Woodstock’ from the Peanuts cartoon. Quite cute little birds to admire and learn about, but not fun to have in your chimney. They can cause many issues for your chimney, your family, and yourself. Best to have these removed properly.

The health of your family and yourself should be the top priority. Regardless of what it is, the safety and health of your living situation can influence so much. One of the most common infections caused by birds is histoplasmosis. What is histoplasmosis? It is a type of lung infection that is caused by inhaling Histoplasma capsulatum fungal spores. These spores can be found in the soil and droppings from birds and bats. Though most cases do not require treatment, there are some who have suffered from weaker immune systems. Below are common symptoms according to HealthLine:

Common Symptoms:

histoplasmosis

  • Fever
  • Dry Cough
  • Chest Pain
  • Joint Pain
  • Red bumps/lesions on lower legs

Sever Cases Symptoms:

  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing up blood

Widespread Causing Inflammation & Irritation Symptoms:

  • Chest pain caused by swelling around the heart
  • High Fever
  • Stiff neck with headaches caused by swelling around the brain and spinal cord

Histoplasmosis is caused by fungal spores. The fungal spores are released into the air when contaminated soil or droppings are disturbed. Breathing in the spores may lead to an infection. These spores are commonly found where birds and bats have nested, such as:

  • caves
  • chicken coops
  • chimneys
  • parks
  • older barns

You can contract histoplasmosis more than once. However. the first time is the most severe and this is not contagious. Even though it is not contagious, it is best to get your chimney professionally cleaned. It will lower your and your family’s risks of contracting the respiratory disease.

chimney cap

Caps, Covers, & Damper Repairs

Living in the south, mainly along the Gulf Coast, then you know there are lost of rain storms. Actually, we get more rain than anywhere else in the country, including Seattle. The ranking of the most amount of rainfall goes as follows: Mobile, Pensacola, and Seattle in 41st.

This region has such a big deal about rain when it comes to chimneys and fireplaces. As the Chimney Safety Institute of America explains, “water, not fire, causes most chimney damage.”

“Whether masonry or factory-built,” says the CSIA, “prolonged water exposure can result in cracks or gaps in chimneys where creosote can collect and increase the risk of fire or where noxious gases can escape into your home and expose your family to carbon monoxide.”

Fireplaces, Chimneys and Leaks

In basic terms the problem with fireplace and chimney leakage is that water combines with the creosote that remains from fires to form an acidic mixture. Over time that mixture can eat out the silica in the mortar joints.
Once the joints are no longer secure, moisture — remember all that Gulf Coast rain — can get into the house through the chimney. For example, if water comes in through the chimney and is released under the shingles it can lead to the need for a roof replacement.

Also, without proper sealing, heat from fires can travel into areas which should not be exposed to heat, dry out wood, and in some cases actually cause the wood to catch on fire.

In fact, according to a staff report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 22,000 fires a year which are associated with fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors. Such fires can cause substantial damage and in some cases may lead to fatalities.

Also, without caps it does happen that birds and animals get into fireplaces. Sometimes nests are built and in some cases animals unable to get out die inside chimneys and fireplaces. Noises and odors can result from such problems.

Caps, Covers and Dampers

You can protect your household with caps, covers and dampers. Caps with spark arresters are devices that go over the flue. They keep out both moisture and animals, plus they help prevent sparks from leaving the chimney. Covers are at the top of the chimney, go around the flue, and protect against moisture. Dampers are inside the chimney itself. They can help create a proper draft to achieve the best fire, plus when closed they prevent animals from getting into the house.

Cap, Cover and Damper Services

We can install, repair and maintain caps, covers and dampers. We inspect such devices as part of our basic chimney sweep services. We have many devices in stock and can recommend the equipment which is right for your fireplace and chimney, whether it is masonry or metal, new or historic.

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