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The arrival of spring brings warmer temperatures, plenty of green plant growth, and the birth of adorable baby animals. Unfortunately, many animals think chimneys are the perfect nesting spot to protect their new babies from predators and the elements.

While the presence of animals in the chimney may seem like a minor inconvenience – especially if you are not using your fireplace – it can lead to significant chimney damage or expose your family to disease. However, animal entry can be avoided with the use of a chimney cap.

How animals get in

The primary way that animals get into the flue is through a damaged – or missing – chimney cap. Sitting at the top of the chimney, the chimney cap covers and protects the flue from the elements. The metal top and mesh or wire sides allow smoke and gas to safety vent from the fireplace while preventing water, debris, and animals from getting in.

Even minor damage to the chimney cap can create enough space for animals to gain entry to the chimney; small holes in the mesh sides, dents in the metal, or missing screws can all create opportunities for animal entry. While birds and small mammals may only need a few inches to squeeze through, raccoons have been known to claw and bite at weak areas in order to create large enough openings for them to fit through.

How animals damage your chimney

While a chimney might seem like the ideal nesting spot for an animal, the presence of wildlife in the flue can cause significant problems for your chimney system. The following are just a few of the ways animals cause damage to your chimney.

– Chimney cap: Animal entry can worsen damage to a chimney cap. In addition to leaving space for more animals to enter in the future, this can also allow water and debris into the flue year-round.
– Flue liner: Beaks, talons, and claws can all scratch or chip the flue liner as animals attempt to navigate the cramped, dark flue. Likewise, nesting materials may have a corrosive effect on the liner, sometimes requiring chimney relining.
– Debris: Animal houseguests in the chimney do not come empty-handed; nesting materials, food, and droppings can accumulate in the flue. In addition to increasing the risk of chimney fire, this can also exposure your family to bacteria, bugs, and other diseases.

How to keep animals out

The most effective way to keep animals out of your chimney is through the use of a chimney cap. Good chimney caps are made of quality materials, correctly sized and fitted to your chimney, and have been professionally installed. In addition to preventing animal entry, chimney caps can also keep moisture and debris out of the flue; this protects your chimney system year round and helps prevent damage and deterioration.

Don’t let animal entry affect your chimney system this spring. Instead, have a new chimney cap installed to prevent birds, raccoons, and other animals from gaining entry to your home. For more information on the dangers of animals in the flue or to have a new chimney cap installed on your fireplace system, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today.