If you have an animal in your chimney, how do you safely identify and remove it? This guide has expert tips on diagnosing and solving the problem.
Animal-related problems are common homeowner headaches. One such problem is finding an animal in your chimney. But how do you identify which animal is hiding in your chimney? And what’s the best way to remove it?
Some animals that may take up residence in your chimney are raccoons, skunks, squirrels, birds, and bats. Each of these animals has different telltale signs.
While they may not seem harmful, animal in chimney can cause some serious problems. They can carry diseases that are harmful to humans, such as rabies. They can also damage your chimney and home with their urine and feces.
Finally, animals in your chimney can be a fire hazard, making it essential to remove them as soon as possible.
How Do I Know What Animal is in My Chimney?
Diagnosing which animal is in your chimney can be tricky. But there are some key things to look for that can help you narrow it down.
Animal Chimney Sounds
One of the first things you may notice is strange noises coming from your chimney. This is especially true if the animal is a nocturnal animal, such as a raccoon or opossum.
You may hear thumping, scratching, or scurrying noises. You may also hear the animal exit and enter your chimney late at night or early in the morning.
Finding out what animal is up there is the simplest approach to getting it out of your chimney.
It’s probably a bird if it chirps, squawks, or flaps. On the other hand, it’s most likely a mammal if it sniffs, claws, or scratches.
Debris and Nesting Material
Another way to identify the animal in your chimney is to look for debris and nesting material. These can be found around the base of your chimney or on your roof.
Birds will often build nests out of twigs, leaves, and grass. You may also find feathers near the nest. Raccoons will often tear up shingles or siding to build their nests. And squirrels may use insulation or leaves to build theirs.
Finding tracks near your chimney can also be a clue as to which animal is hiding inside. Raccoon tracks look like tiny human handprints with five fingers. Squirrel tracks look like small human footprints. And opossum tracks look like a mix between a raccoon and a squirrel.
You can also look for other signs, such as droppings, damage to your chimney, or holes in your roof.
Another way to identify the animal in your chimney is by looking for droppings. Look for droppings near the base of your chimney or on your roof.
Raccoon droppings are usually 2-3 inches long and tubular. They may also contain pieces of undigested food, such as berries. Squirrel droppings are small and pellet-like. And opossum droppings look like dog droppings.
As for birds, you may find feathers, twigs, or leaves near their droppings.
Damage to Your Chimney
Finally, you may be able to identify the animal in your chimney by the damage it has caused.
You can identify raccoon damage on the chimney by the following:
- Ripped up shingles or siding
- Gnawed on wood or wires
- Kicked down insulation to build their nests.
Squirrels, on the other hand, typically cause the following damage to your chimney:
- Nesting materials block the flue, causing smoke to back up into your home
- Feces and urine can contaminate your living space and cause respiratory problems
- Chewing on woodwork or electric wires can create fire hazards
If you suspect a squirrel has taken up residence in your chimney, it’s important to take action immediately. Not only are they a nuisance, but they can also pose a serious safety threat to your home.
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Dangers of Animals in Chimneys to Humans
Do animals in chimneys pose a danger to humans? In some cases, yes. Below are some of the dangers animals in chimneys can pose to humans.
One of the biggest dangers animals in chimneys pose to humans is rabies. This virus attacks the nervous system and is fatal to humans. It’s most commonly found in raccoons, bats, and foxes. But you can also find it in skunks, opossums, and groundhogs.
If you think you’ve been exposed to rabies, you should see a doctor immediately. There is no cure for rabies, but there is a treatment that doctors can give if you’re exposed.
2. Respiratory Problems
Histoplasmosis is a lung infection caused by breathing in fungus spores. Bird flu is a highly contagious virus that can cause severe respiratory illness in humans.
If you or someone in your family is allergic to animals, it’s essential to take steps to remove the animal from your chimney as soon as possible. Even if the animal is not causing any immediate problems, its presence can trigger allergies and make it difficult for people in your home to breathe.
4. Skin Irritation
Skin irritation is a serious health concern if you have an animal in the chimney. If you are experiencing skin irritation, you must see a doctor as soon as possible.
In some cases, the animal may have been in the chimney for a long time, and their feces can cause severe skin problems.
What to Do if You Hear an Animal Trapped in Your Chimney?
As mentioned earlier, the best way to remove animals from your chimney is first to identify the type of animal. Once you know what kind of animal is in your chimney, you can take steps to remove it safely.
The following is a guide on identifying and removing different types of animals from your chimney.
Bats in Chimney
You can tell if you have bats in your chimney when you hear the following sounds:
- High-pitched noises coming from inside the flue.
- Scratching or scuttling sounds.
- Flapping noises.
How to Get Bats Out of Your Chimney
The best way to remove bats from your chimney is to hire a professional. A professional can safely and effectively remove the bats without harming them.
Bats are protected by law, so they must be removed by a professional who knows how to do it safely. This will save you the hassle of dealing with the problem yourself and prevent you from getting into trouble with the law.
Mouse or Rat in Chimney
The second animal in the chimney problem you might have is a mouse or rat. Mice and rats are often attracted to the warmth of the chimney and will build their nests there. Some sounds to watch out for are:
How to Get Rats Out of Chimney
The following is a step-by-step guide on how to get rats out of your chimney:
- Block the opening of the chimney with a piece of cloth or plastic. This will block the rat’s access to the inside of your home.
- Place a trap baited with food at the bottom of the chimney. The rat will be attracted to the food and caught in the trap.
- Once the rat is caught, release it far away from your home to prevent it from returning.
- Repeat this process until all the rats have been caught and removed from your chimney.
Chimney Swifts in Chimneys
Chimney swifts are small birds that often build their nests in chimneys. They are protected by law and must be removed by a professional.
Some signs that you have chimney swifts in your chimney are:
- Rattlesnake-like sounds
How to Get Chimney Swifts Out of Your Chimney
The best way to remove chimney swifts from your chimney is to hire a professional. A professional can safely and effectively remove the birds without harming them.
There’s also the DIY approach:
- Scare the Birds: You can try to scare the birds out of your chimney by making loud noises or shining a bright light into the flue.
- Set Up Traps: Another option is to set up traps at the bottom of your chimney. The birds will be attracted to the bait and can be caught in the trap.
Squirrels in Chimney
Squirrels are another type of animal that often ends up in chimneys. They are attracted to the warmth of the chimney and will build their nests there. You can tell if you have squirrels in your chimney if you hear:
How to Get Squirrels Out of Your Chimney
The easiest method to get a squirrel out of your chimney is to install a squirrel chimney trap at the top of the flue, which captures the creature as it escapes.
If there are youngsters in the nest, you may take them out with a chimney snare pole (ideally by a professional wildlife removalist or chimney contractor).
Raccoons in Chimney
Raccoons are one of the most common animals to get stuck in a chimney. They are attracted to the warmth of the chimney and will often build their nests there. You can tell if you have a raccoon in your chimney if you hear:
How to Get Raccoons Out of Your Chimney
The best way to remove raccoons from your chimney is to hire a professional. A professional can safely and effectively remove the animals without harming them.
If you want to try to remove the raccoon yourself, here are some tips:
- Wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from disease.
- Place a trash can or large container at the base of the chimney.
- Climb the roof and remove the animal from the chimney using a long pole or snare.
- Lower the animal into the container and release it away from your home.
Skunk in Chimney
Finally, another animal that might end up in your chimney is a skunk. Skunks are attracted to the warmth of the chimney and will often build their nests there. You can tell if you have a skunk in your chimney if you hear:
How to Get Skunks Out of Your Chimney
The best way to remove skunks from your chimney is to hire a professional. A professional can safely and effectively remove the animals without harming them.
If you want to try to remove the skunk yourself, here are some tips:
- First, try to determine where the skunk is located in the chimney. This will help you to know how to best approach the situation.
- Next, set up a one-way door at the base of the chimney. This will allow the skunk to leave but not re-enter.
- Finally, using a powerful flashlight, look up the chimney to see if the skunk is still there. If so, gently coax it down with a long pole. Once the skunk is down, remove the one-way door and let it exit on its own.
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How to Keep Animals Out of My Chimney? (Prevention Tips)
There are several things you can do to prevent animals from getting into your chimney in the first place.
1. Install a Top Sealing Damper
A top-sealing damper is a metal cover that fits over the top of the flue. It has a rubber seal that helps to prevent animals from getting in.
Unlike throat dampers, top-sealing dampers can be closed when the fireplace is not in use, which will further prevent animals from getting inside. Moreover, they don’t leave any space for animals to squeeze through when they’re closed.
2. Use Animal Proof Chimney Cap
Chimney caps are metal covers that fit over the top of the flue. Their primary purpose is to keep rain, snow, and animals out of the chimney.
Once you install a chimney cap, check it regularly to ensure it is in good condition and not damaged.
3. Annual Chimney & Fireplace Inspection
It’s best to have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional at least once a year. This will help identify potential problems, such as cracks or holes that animals could use to get in.
4. Keep Your Home and Yard Free of Food Debris
Another way to prevent animals from getting into your chimney is to keep your home and yard free of food debris. Animals are attracted to food, so if they can smell it, they’ll be more likely to come around.
If you find an animal in your chimney, it is best to call professional help. Wildlife removal experts and professional chimney sweep services have the knowledge and experience necessary to safely remove the animal from your home and release it back into the wild.
They will also be able to clean up any messes made and repair any damage the animal did during the intrusion.
Removing the animal yourself can be dangerous for you and the animal, so do not hesitate to call for help if you find one inside your chimney.