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Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney's Blog

Dealing With Critters In Chimneys

As the weather cools, small animals seek warmth and safe haven. Although they don’t sing “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, they do seek it. As a result, your home’s chimney is a potentially snug and cozy hideaway for small animals. The chances of a critter invasion increase as they prepare for the seasonal shift to cooler weather. Mice, squirrels, raccoons, bats, birds and other critters are candidates for chimney occupancy.

Confirming a critter crisis in your chimney:

Although small critters pose a problem for your chimney system, they may not be as obvious as some might expect. It’s always wise to start with a professional chimney inspection.

Have Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney inspect and sweep your chimney. With or without the possibility of small-animal intrusions, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends an annual chimney inspection and cleaning. As we inspect your chimney, we will look for evidence of critters.

dealing-with-critters-in-chimneys-fort-wayne-in-old-smokeys-fireplace-chimney-w800-h600Solving your critter crisis safely and effectively:

First of all, one unwanted animal visitor that presents a special challenge is the chimney swift. Secondly, chimney swifts are challenging because they enjoy special protections by law and regulation. Old Smokey’s can help you deal with chimney swifts that might try to use your chimney as a nesting site.

Also, many chimneys use small metal flue pipes rather than clay liners. These metal flues can sometimes be dangerous for animals, who cannot grip the slippery metal and may fall into the fireplace.

Therefore, as for chimney swifts, their nests should be removed after the birds have left in the fall – hence more the reason to have Old Smokey’s inspect your chimney now. Our technicians are trained to follow the correct procedures regarding these protected migratory birds.

How do critters actually get into a chimney?

There are a few structural vulnerabilities that allow animal intrusions. One is due to damper design or malfunction. A top-sealing damper is often a reasonable mechanical solution. Top-sealing dampers are installed at the top of the flue. They close it off using a rubber gasket, providing protection against animal intrusion.

However, another possible source of animal intrusion is a faulty or missing chimney cap. A chimney cap can be made of stainless steel, galvanized black steel, copper or aluminum. It can also be square, rectangular, oval or round. Whatever the material or the shape, a chimney cap can be a valuable resource in preventing animals from being unwanted visitors.
Old Smokey’s can help you make the right choice. In addition, we can make sure it is properly installed, because a chimney cap needs to be mounted securely and evenly so it can guard your chimney from animal intrusions.

Why choose us?

Our 30+ years of experience testifies to the trust Old Smokey’s has built throughout northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio, and mid-south Michigan. We are proud of the wide-ranging portfolio of satisfied customers we have built up over the years.

So call 260-424-0009 or 800-876-6539, or schedule an appointment online. We’ll be happy to share our wealth of experience with respect to uninvited visitors, whether they have wings or paws, in your home’s chimney system!

Slowly or Swiftly, Respect the Chimney Swift

What can we say about “swifts”? For starters, the author Jonathan Swift is famous for “Gulliver’s Travels” and other works. Letter carriers are famously celebrated for “the swift completion of theirSlowly or Swiftly, Respect the Chimney Swift IMG- Fort Wayne IN- Old Smokey's Fireplace and Chimney appointed rounds.” And, speaking further of “swifts,” chimney swifts are entitled to special protection that we can all pay heed to. Chimney swifts. That’s where Old Smokey’s comes in. We can help you protect this migratory bird.

As their name implies, chimney swifts like chimneys. It wasn’t always that way, not exactly. Ages ago, these cigar-shaped birds nested in hollow trees in ancient forests. But these trees gave way to cleared land used for farming, and the birds found favor with stone and mortared brick chimneys that resembled, for the birds at least, the trees they had formerly nested in.

Maybe your chimney is a potential nest for chimney swifts. Maybe your chimney is the scene of a potential classic conflict: humans vs. nature. But it’s a conflict we can resolve. Old Smokey’s can help.

No one wants to take nesting habitat away from chimney swifts. We want to accommodate them the best we can.

Many of today’s chimneys use small metal flue pipes rather than clay liners. These metal flues can sometimes be dangerous for animals, who cannot grip the slippery metal and may even fall into the fireplace.

As for chimney swifts, their nests are small, cup-shaped structures made of twigs and glued to the chimney wall with saliva. These nests should be removed after the birds have left in the fall. This does the swifts a favor, both by removing bird parasites and the nest structure itself, which might be used by returning swifts, but could be unstable enough to collapse during the nesting period. According to biologists, chimney swifts tend to return to the same nesting site year after year, if it’s available.

Chimney swifts are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Professional chimney sweeps understand this and how to deal with chimney swifts. Our sweeps are professionally trained, and they know the correct protocols and practices regarding swifts.

A careful inspection by a qualified professional is a common-sense approach to chimney swifts. Instead of relying on guesswork or possibly erroneous conclusions, rely on Old Smokey’s pros to discern your chimney’s situation related to our friends the chimney swifts.

Regarding care toward chimney swifts, many recommend a delay of the annual cleaning until after young have left the nest. Ask your Old Smokey’s chimney sweep to come back in the fall if swifts are in occupancy earlier in the season. Anyone who knowingly destroys birds or nests that might contain eggs or young can be fined or penalized.

One common fix involves a simple solution: chimneys lined with metal should be capped, to prevent birds from entering and becoming trapped.

Our 30+ years of experience speaks volumes about the trust we’ve built throughout northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio, and midsouth Michigan. Call 260-424-0009 or 800-876-6539, or schedule an appointment online. We’ll be happy to talk swifts — chimney swifts, that is.

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