Though spring marks the end of winter precipitation and blisteringly cold temperatures, it comes with its own unique set of seasonal woes – especially when it comes to your chimney. Of these potential problems, pests like birds, raccoons, and even bats are surprisingly common. Fortunately, there are several different things you can do to keep the creepy-crawlies outside where they belong.
What Kinds of Pests Live in Chimneys?
Insects and animals alike can find their way into your home through your chimney, but some are far more common than others, particularly in the Midwest. Keep in mind that these animals can carry their own little pests like ticks, fleas, and various types of lice.
- Birds – There are dozens of species that do not migrate in winter, and they need somewhere warm to build their nests.
- Squirrels – Though they are cute, they can be destructive. Like birds, they will sometimes build nests on the smoke shelf in your chimney.
- Raccoons – It’s less common to see a raccoon in your chimney, but it is a possibility. If you suspect a raccoon, do not attempt to remove it yourself. These animals can carry rabies and they aren’t usually very friendly – especially if they’re scared.
- Bats – Bats are not as common as the other animal types in this list, but they can and do exist in the Chicago area, and like the others, they want to stay dark, warm, and protected. Unfortunately, many bat species also carry rabies, so it’s best to prevent them from snoozing in your chimney.
Signs You Have Pests Living in Your Chimney
The best way to determine whether you have a pest living in your chimney is to hire a professional at least once a year to inspect. Of course, a lot can happen between inspections, so it’s very handy to understand the signs of an unwanted chimney guest. Of all the possible signs, most homeowners report one of two things: a scurrying sound inside the chimney and the presence of animal waste in the fireplace. A few homeowners claim the first sign of a pest was the odor, but this is not as common.
Keeping Pests Out of Your Chimney
For the most part, the best way to keep these animals out of your chimney involves installing a chimney cap that prevents them from entering in the first place. Aside from this, other tips are fairly simple, and they include closing your damper when your fireplace isn’t in use, installing glass fireplace doors to prevent any animals that may find their way into your chimney from entering your home, and sealing any cracks you might find in your chimney masonry as quickly as possible. The larger the crack, the larger the animal that can slip through.
If you believe you may have birds, squirrels, bats, or even a raccoon using your chimney for cover, it is best to contact a professional to remove the animal and secure your chimney. Raccoons, bats, and some birds can be very aggressive, and because they can carry diseases, chasing them out on your own may not be safe.