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Animal in the Chimney - What to Do

How To Remove A Wild Animal In The Chimney

Finding out that there is a wild animal in the chimney is something that can often come as a surprise, as most people will believe that their chimney is sealed and that animals will find an easier place to nest. However, the tell tale scratching noises can be one of the giveaway signs that there is a wild animal in the chimney, while finding items falling down into the fireplace when you open the damper can be another important sign. Because of its sheer vertical sides, there are only a few animals that can survive successfully in the chimney, but when they do they can cause significant damage.

Identifying The Entry Point

In the majority of cases, identifying the entry point for the animals will be quite straightforward, as it is most common for animals to gain access to the chimney either because it doesn't have a cap or the cap has been damaged. This means that the first step to trying to find the entry point into the chimney is to examine the top, and it is also worth checking to see if there are signs whether it is a nesting bird or a raccoon in the chimney. If the chimney cap is entirely intact, this can make the job of finding the entry point more difficult, as it means you will need to examine the entire chimney to try and find the hole, and in these cases it can often be best to hire a professional.

Exclusion Measures

Once you have identified how the animals are getting in and out of the chimney, you can then either look to trap the animals or install an exclusion device to try and ensure that once they are out of the chimney, they can't get back in. The one important thing to remember is that in some cases, if the animals are in breeding season you may have a mother being excluded and leaving her young inside the chimney. An exclusion sleeve can be placed over the top of the chimney or a hole in the masonry, and while the netting will allow the animal out, once the netting falls the animal will not be able to get back in.

Mounting A Chimney Trap

This is a fairly simple process, and involves creating a tunnel of wire mesh that is installed over the top of the chimney, and when the animal leaves the chimney, it has no other option other than to crawl into the trap itself. It is important that you mount the trap on a flat area where it can be stable, even when the animal tries to rock it, otherwise the trap can fall, which will not only injure the animal, but can also cause a significant amount of damage to the property too.

Relocating The Wild Animal

While birds are best released into the wild immediately rather than being relocated, if you have trapped squirrels or raccoons, it will usually be best to relocate them at least ten miles away from your property to stop them from returning to try and get back into the chimney. The best relocation sites will be those that are well away from other domestic properties, and in woodlands or countryside where possible. Not all animals will survive this process, as they will be going into the territory of other animals, but it does give them more of a chance than lethal trapping or poisoning.

Repairing Any Chimney Damage

Once your animals have been removed, it is best to have the chimney examined by a chimney sweep to see if there is any damage caused to the interior of the chimney, and to see if any repairs need to be carried out. If not, it is still best to get the chimney swept to remove any debris or material left behind by the animals out. Where the animals have damaged the chimney liner, it is important that this is repaired otherwise lighting a fire can be dangerous, although this kind of repair will require a builder to complete properly.

Installing A Chimney Cap

One of the most important steps to be carried out once you have removed the animals from the chimney is to install a chimney cap, as this is the most important line of defense that prevents birds, bats, raccoons and squirrels from getting in to the chimney in the first place. These are available in a variety of materials, with stainless steel being a particularly durable type, and will be very good at allowing the smoke to exit the chimney successfully, while preventing animals from getting inside. Even if you have found animals getting in through a hole in the chimney, it is still worth having your chimney cap examined to make sure it is in good condition, and getting it replaced if it is starting to show signs of rust or damage.

Go back to the main How to Get Rid of Wild Animals page for more information about what to do if you have animals in your chimney. Do you hear scratching sounds in the chimney or fireplace? Is there a dead animal stuck in the chimney cavity creating a smell or odor? Or maybe a nest of baby animal in the chimney. Can they cause damage, and how do you get animal out of the chimney? Read more about specific animals inside your house:
Bats in your chimney
Dead animal in your chimney
Raccoons in your chimney
Squirrels in your chimney

Reader Email: I am having a serious issue large animals entering my chimney.. my house is remodeled, was built in 1918. The chimney goes to basement where it used to be attached to oil tank for heat. Which no longer is attached. Only has clean out down there. Somewhere in kitchen ceiling where chimney runs had to have a hole for stove vent possibly? Because these things are in my 1st floor ceilings! We covered uncapped chimney (previous owner left uncapped just bought house year go)with a wooden box, left 8" x 8" opening.. attached cage system with flap. They figured that out so removed cage, attached trap door in a frame.. figured that out.. so gave up & covered the trap door hardware cloth seal it. They've now somehow pried open! Help! Please help! I have tried local people they seem have no idea of chimney traps etc. Meanwhile I am stuck living under wild animals in our ceilings! My husband just deployed germany now I am here alone with this horror. Any help numbers u might have for watertown, ny. I would appreciate it. Been trying get rid of these things since October. Cannot take anymore. Ready to walk away from our home altogether.

My Response: It sounds like you have raccoons, or possibly opossums, entering the chimney. Yes, we have a technician in Watertown NY who can assist you! It's important to trap and remove the animals and then seal the open chimney flu with a professional steel chimney cap.

I called a different company last week. The only thing technician I talked to said was something about cutting holes in my ceilings, setting traps. which considering my house is all newly refinished, didnt want to do.When I told him no, I would rather use chimney traps or exclusion device on chimney.. he acted as if they never deal with chimneys? Like he had never used chimney trap. I called your wild life person who's helped me installing trap door such. Knows all about chimney traps.. problem is he cannot climb thius week, has a temporary back problem where he cannot even straighten his back. So this has all been a real nightmare. My critter person seems to think its possums not raccoons.. insisting our trash can would have been gotten into. Which it never has.. & that i'd hear them in ceiling more. But I have drywall then wood in ceilings.. maybe bcuz house used to be multi family, xtra wood for fire or aound idk. But am grateful they cannot gnaw thru that!
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