It’s December everybody! Merry Christmahanakwanzika—or just, happy holidays. But Santa isn’t the only thing trying to fit down your chimney. Many objects are liable to end up falling or getting stuck in a chimney, and Santa’s in a rush on his big day; he doesn’t need these obstacles.
Not that your chimney will be much of a fan of obstructions itself, the flue is meant to be kept clear of debris and obstruction to function correctly.
The Other Visitors
We’ve already addressed both birds and bats in-depth in two other blogs, but many other critters want to visit your home through the chimney. Santa is a kind saint, he wouldn’t dare barge into a critter’s home, and beyond that, he wouldn’t cut them in line. So how do we get the line moving and when should you call pest control?
How to be rid of Chimney Birds
Many Birds find the chimney a hospital place, especially older masonry chimneys. They are high, safe, and warm, a perfect storm of traits for stray Aves to be tempted to call a location home. Many of said birds are migratory and thus federally protected, making them a nuisance as they can’t be easily removed.
As for the not-protected birds, sometimes loud noises may scare them away, or bright light from below may do the same. If you have a top-mounted damper, opening it and then closing the fireplace doors if you have them can get them to fly right back up. Many birds can also be handled without training, but this is not advised as they have many parasites and pathogens.
Do not smoke birds out; the various things birds are liable to leave in a chimney are fire hazards, and there is a chance that you kill the bird. Any time young or a nest is involved, call professionals.
Larger avian are less likely to be coming down a chimney to find a new home; instead, they are more likely to fall and are probably injured from the panic which issued upon realizing their stuck status or from the fall itself—in any case, calling a professional taught how to handle these animals with care and to remove them humanely I the best bet for your safety and the birds.
How to get rid of Bats
Bats are less likely to be directly after the chimney, and bats in the chimney likely mean bats are around in other parts of the home as well. They are more likely to be found in attics or garages, as they prefer high and warm places. Bat’s least tasteful aspects are their most dangerous, their waste. With enough of it collecting being harmful to those living in the building.
Like with birds, one should call people professionally trained to handle them. Bats can squeeze into many small gaps, so if you find some are getting into your home, look for their entry points but don’t rush to close them off. One needs to make sure all bats have left the house before closing their exit points.
It is illegal in many places to capture or cage nesting or wild bats. It is especially illegal to harm them. During maternity season with young, many states make it illegal even to exclude bats from the home without a permit. In this use, “exclude” means to allow to leave but not return. The tool of exclusion is aptly named an exclusion door, which are devices made to fit into the gaps that the bats are using as entry and exit points. Make sure you close any entrances that these devices don’t fit into.
If you care about animal preservation, consider building bat boxes. Bats don’t like to migrate and would go to other homes in the area, risking being exterminated or removed again and again. Should they not find roost, they have to go on a stressful journey to find some other place to call home, a journey many will not survive.
Chimney Mice and how to get rid of them.
One of my favorite animals is also known to shelter themselves in chimneys; mice have many predators, so it’s easy to see why they like to hide in homes where their hunters cannot reach them. The process of ridding mice is similar to bats; find any small gaps and fill them with steel mesh or some other material they cannot chew through.
Unlike Bats and Birds, who may require professional help, mice are relatively simple. Mice can be excluded just like bats; however, using traps on them is legal. While one can use snap traps, know that many no-kill traps for mice also exist and work just as well.
Set up is simple, open the damper and place the traps around the fireplace. Do not use poison; removing the corpses will prove difficult, and any leftovers could find their way into a later fire with mixed results.
Squirrels Climb into the Chimney
Squirrels are surprisingly no hassle, even with young. Provide adults a way to climb out and when sure they have left cap the chimney. A standard example would be a rope tied to the top of the chimney. If a mother squirrel has chosen to use your chimney as a nest, then you may remove the babies by hand, with thick gloves, and return them outside to the mother. However, calling experts is advised as mother squirrels are liable to fight for their young.
Raccoons Conquer the Chimney
Raccoons are another animal that will come into a chimney to raise young; most raccoons in chimneys will be female. Raccoons will climb up into the top of an uncapped or poorly screened/capped chimney. Raccoons are another animal that can just be scared away; however, raccoon eviction fluid, a by-product of male raccoons—predators of raccoon young, will scare off nesting mothers.
If neither of these work, it is once again best to contact professionals.
Opossums Invade the Chimney
Opossums, often mistakenly called “possums” after their Australian cousins, are similar to raccoons. While Opossums and Raccoons both serve fundamental and valuable niches in the environment they are both well known troublemakers for humans. They can be considerable hassles to deal with due to their irritability, large litters, and maneuverability.
Opossums don’t have the same shortcuts as Raccoons for removal though, loud noises may scare them up, but besides that, it’s best to call a professional.
Besides the many visitors that may form a line in Santa’s path, some other things may serve to obstruct the jolly ol’ gift giver.
Molds do as molds do. They grow in hard-to-reach places and make all in the area feel sick. Chimneys, if not properly maintained, provide wonderful homes for molds. A chimney cap or crown failure is likely the perpetrator of mold letting in water. Poor waterproofing of the brick and mortar is another possible cause.
Molds can also grow due to poor ventilation, which can trap condensation in the flue, letting it reside upon the walls for the mold to absorb.
Mold removal is not a DIY job; molds and spores pose many hazards. A complete inspection to identify the problem allowing the mold to grow and then proper mold removal is necessary to clear the issue.
Plants and Weeds
Plants and weeds are similar to molds in this manner. However, plants are likely to grow around and outside the chimney. The reasons are the same, neglect or poor upkeep of the chimney.
Plants around the chimney invite insects to live in the chimney, leading to infestations of the entire home. They will also trap moisture, leading to likely water damage to the chimney over time. Their roots and tendrils are also liable to cause direct physical trauma to the chimney, exacerbating the water damage.
These cracks, holes, and gaps are also invitations for other animals, especially mice and bats. At the same time, the insects serve as a good food source for some bats, opossums, and raccoons.
Perhaps an obvious one, over time, things will fall into an open chimney; there is nothing else to it. Wear and tear will occur, and storms will pass through. That’s why it’s crucial to get the chimney swept. The only preventative measures are Chimney caps and chimney crowns or top-mounted dampers.