The atmosphere is warm, the snow is gone and your chimney is being used less by you. It’s being used, however, by others for another function.
The warmer seasons provide a perfect chance for insects – birds, squirrels, raccoons, etc. – to take refuge in your chimney. If the chimney flue isn’t secured, then a pest is very likely to crawl down and make your home its home.
• Chimney Swift – Chimney swifts are gray birds that breed May through July. Their preferred habitat is open structures, like open chimneys. Chimney swifts are a near threatened bird species, and therefore are protected by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. What this signifies is that if chimney swifts have taken residence in your chimney, they can simply be removed with the right licenses, which are often difficult to secure.
The simplest way to divest yourself of those birds is to let them leave by themselves. Once they’re gone, a chimney sweep may enter and clean out the nests and other items left behind.
• Squirrels – These rodents are amazing climbers and can crawl into anything, especially open chimneys. Once down inside the chimney flue, squirrels make shelter and nests inside your chimney. Squirrels often will need help leaving the chimney, since they can easily climb down, but have a rough go of scaling out.
• Rats – If you are hearing scraping sounds from within your chimney, then you may have a rat problem. Like squirrels, rats will make your chimney their home, building a nest and raising their rat households in your masonry’s secure boundaries.
• Raccoons – For squirrels and raccoons, a chimney isn’t any different than a massive hollow tree. Raccoons love chimneys since they’re safe and dry, a perfect living environment. Once they’ve established a nest, they will likely start to have a litter.
• Bats – Hearing twittering and rustling from in the masonry, particularly at night? Then you might have a bat issue. Bats like to take shelter in chimneys, especially the ones that have pulled away from the home. An easy way to tell if these creatures of the night have entered your chimney is to see if there is subtle dark staining around openings. These marks are caused by oils in the bats’ fur.
How do you prevent pests from entering your chimney? The easiest approach is a custom-made chimney cap. A stainless steel, galvanized or copper tops will not only prevent rodents and other pests from entering your chimney, but it also will reduce the amount of leaves and other debris that may enter the chimney’s top.
You can also prevent these critters from entering your home by keeping the chimney damper closed. If the damper is left open, a raccoon or other rodent could enter your living area, which will provide more difficulties.