With the temperatures outside on the rise, the animals are starting to become more active, and that means they are looking for dark, warm, and cozy places to build their nests. Unfortunately for many homeowners, chimneys seem to be a popular choice for squirrels, bats, birds, and other potential pests. Armed with a bit of information (and perhaps some professional help) you can keep them out of your chimney and your home for good.
Install (or Repair) a Chimney Cap
The number one way to keep animals out of your chimney is to install a chimney cap that adequately seals the top of the chimney while still allowing for airflow. Typically, this stands several inches above the end of the chimney and the gap between the actual cap and the chimney is covered with a fine mesh or screen. This allows air to flow but keeps even small pests from digging in and making their homes inside your chimney.
Of course, a chimney cap does much more than keep pests from moving in. It will also prevent debris like leaves and twigs from entering your chimney and falling onto the damper, where they can create clogs or even cause damage. Chimney caps also block rain, snow, ice, hail, and all other forms of precipitation from falling into your chimney. When moisture mixes with soot, which contains creosote, it puts off a very pungent and unpleasant odor and becomes caustic enough to deteriorate your chimney liner quickly. A chimney cap is best installed by a trained and certified professional.
Consider a Top-Sealing Damper
A damper is a door inside the chimney that opens and closes according to your needs. If you want to build a fire, you will need to open the damper to allow smoke to escape upward rather than outward. If you want to seal your chimney, you will need to close the damper – but only when there is no fire and when the previous fire is completely out. Most dampers in existence today are known as “throat” dampers, which means they are located just above the fireplace well below the opening at the top of the chimney. Top-sealing dampers are growing in popularity, though, and they can help keep animals out.
Top-sealing dampers are beneficial in several unique ways. First, because they seal the chimney at the top, there is no space for animals to build nests if the damper remains closed. Top-sealing dampers can also add an extra layer of protection against moisture, and they can even help prevent downdrafts and reduce the risk of fires. The best part is that if you require damper repairs in the future, top-sealing dampers are typically easier to reach and work on than their throat-mounted counterparts.
Animals mean you no harm when they build their nests in your chimney, but they certainly can cause it – and the damage can total thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Chimney caps and top-sealing dampers are the best defenses, so be sure to call for your annual chimney inspection today to ensure that your system is designed in a way that pests cannot get in.