Keeping Your Fireplace Animal-Free
Birds are beautiful to watch, but you really don’t want them taking up residence in your chimney. Keeping your fireplace system free of animals, birds and their debris is essential to maintaining it in good condition. If one makes its way into your flue, it should be removed by the certified professional. The chimney sweep, in addition to helping deal with animals, also inspects and repairs chimneys.
What damage can an animal cause? Nesting materials and debris can result in obvious fire hazards and obstruct the flue, preventing proper draft. Their feces can present health hazards and their bites can be rabid, from squirrels to raccoons. Each of these types of problems requires a different solution. And often, the solution requires more knowledge and skill than most homeowners can employ on their own.
A certified chimney sweep is trained to trap ‘cornered’ animals in a way that is safe for both. Sweeps transport injured animals for treatment before release by other professionals and dispose properly of dead ones. Even ‘harmless’ birds need to be handled with care to avoid harm to the birds, and someone has to clean up their disease-bearing droppings.
Preventing a Recurrence
Once you have a clean fireplace system in good condition, there are a couple of things you can do to keep it animal free. If you have a masonry chimney, make sure you have a good strong chimney cap with a meshed or barred screen. Caps perform multiple functions, and keeping critters and even wind-blown debris out of your flue is among them.
For ‘chased’ pre-fabricated fireplaces, a shroud for the rain pan is an option; simple metal stacks can be capped just like masonry flues. Another option is a top-mounted damper to replace the one in the throat of the fireplace. These ‘lock-top’ dampers also assist in keeping water out much closer to its source and offer better protection for your fireplace.
For proper functioning and for the safety of animals and birds, steps must be taken to keep your chimney obstruction-free. A certified chimney sweep is trained to remove any blockages from your system and suggest improvements that you can make to prevent other critters from making their home in your chimney.