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Many homeowners don’t even think about their fireplaces and chimneys during the warm summer months. Due to the weather, fireplaces and chimneys go unused during the summer, which can create an unfortunate opportunity for insects, birds, and small animals to nest in your chimney. Nesting critters can produce foul odors, present the risk of disease, and often, these critters can be annoying. 

Animals see your unused chimney as shelter — just as they would a hollow tree. If you suspect you have an unwanted visitor in your chimney, follow these steps to address the problem as quickly and as safely as possible. Once the animal has been removed from your chimney, you can work with your chimney sweep to install the best prevention measures. 

Do You Suspect a Raccoon Is Nesting in Your Chimney?

Raccoons breed and give birth to their offspring in the spring from late March to early June. In some cases, raccoons can give birth as late as August. Raccoons are among the most common wild animals discovered in chimneys, and it seems the animal has developed an affinity for the shelter and privacy chimneys provide. 

If you suspect a raccoon is nesting in your chimney, listen closely for sounds throughout the day. Raccoons will make periodic movements at different parts of the day. You mustn’t attempt DIY removal methods for raccoons. Some other techniques suggest smoking out the raccoons or sealing the entry points. In both of these scenarios, you run the risk of one or more raccoons dying in your chimney, which can present even more issues. If you are patient, many raccoons are fully weaned from their mothers by six weeks old. At this time, the mother and babies will most likely leave and live long lives outside of your chimney. 

What Should I Do If I Find a Rat in My Chimney?

Due to their natural agility and ability to crawl through small spaces, rats are another typical guest in chimneys. Rats run the risk of spreading diseases. The biggest concerns with rats are their quick breeding potential, learned behaviors, high volume of feces and urine. Like raccoons, it’s imperative that you don’t do anything that may risk the death of animals inside of your chimney. A dead rat can be challenging to find, but it can quickly fill your home with repulsing odors. 

I Think There’s a Bird or Squirrel in My Chimney. What Should I Do? 

Rats and raccoons tend to navigate chimney entry and exits with ease, while birds and squirrels are more likely to get trapped. The dark and narrow structure will inhibit their ability to find their way out, which can cause them to panic, injure themselves, or die while in your chimney. Professional animal removal is always the safest option, so if you have any reason to suspect an animal is living in your chimney, act quickly to avoid the death of an animal and further inconveniences. 

Chimney Caps Can Keep Animals From Invading Your Chimney

Sometimes previous owners have been proactive and already installed a chimney cap. In this case, your chimney is already protected as long as the cap is in good condition. The average chimney cap can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Regular chimney inspections will ensure that your chimney cap is in working order. Though they are typically constructed from galvanized steel, extreme weather conditions can damage your chimney cap over time. 

For more information about chimney maintenance as well as chimney sweeps and chimney repairs, contact us today!