Should I Have My Chimney Serviced If I Don’t Use It?

Fireplaces are an extremely popular home feature. According to a report by the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association, more than half of the homes in the United States have chimneys. Although many homes have a fireplace, most of them are inactive.

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that they do not need to service their chimney if they do not regularly use them. This isn’t the case! Whether you use your fireplace once or 100 times per year, every chimney needs regular sweepings and inspections. This regular maintenance ensure your chimney is free from damage, deterioration, buildup, and other performance problems.

How often should I get a chimney inspection?

sweep on roof cleaning chimneyThe Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends all chimneys – regardless of fuel source or how often they are used – be inspected at least once per year. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) also advises:

“Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

Why should I have a chimney sweeping if I don’t use it?

Fireplaces that are not frequently used are in the highest risk category for undetected damage. Because they are not regularly used, homeowners may miss small performance problems that indicate the presence of a bigger chimney issue. A rarely-used fireplace may have less soot and ash to remove, but it still needs professional inspections annually to ensure it is safe to use.

What could be causing my chimney damage?

There are a number of things that can cause chimney damage – even if you do not regularly use your fireplace. The following are three common types of damage that are often seen in infrequently used fireplaces.

  • Outdoor Exposure: Damage to the exterior masonry of a chimney can occur regardless of how much you use the fireplace. Both severe weather and normal exposure to the elements can cause wear and tear to the chimney’s bricks and mortar. Without repairs, a small crack can quickly turn into a large chunk of missing masonry.
  • Moisture: Water is extremely damaging to both the interior and exterior of a chimney system. Moisture from rain, snow, and even sprinklers can cause damage to the bricks and mortar of the chimney over time. Interior fireplace components are designed to withstand heat, not moisture. It can also rust or get damaged by water from a leaky chimney.
  • Nests & Pests: Unused chimneys provide prime real estate for birds, bugs, raccoons, roof rats, and more. In addition to causing damage to the fireplace and chimney, an animal entry can expose you and your family to a variety of bacteria, pests, and parasites.

No matter how often you use your fireplace, it is important to have annual inspections to keep your chimney system – and the rest of your home and family – safe. For more information on annual chimney inspections or to schedule your next appointment, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Animals In Your Chimney? We Have Animal Removal Services

Spring and summer are the nesting season for many animals. While you may enjoy seeing birds nests in your trees or a rabbit den in the backyard, there is one place you do not want animals to nest – in your chimney.

Many birds and small mammals view a chimney as the perfect place to nest and protect their young. While the chimney is a cool, dark, protected, and enclosed space, it can be dangerous and difficult to navigate for many animals. Likewise, animal entry can cause significant damage to your chimney system. Because of this, it is important to have animals removed as soon as possible.

How Animals Get In

The most common ways for animals to enter a chimney is through a damaged chimney cap. Birds and small mammals can fit through holes and gaps just a few inches wide; raccoons have been known to use their claws and teeth to tear at the chimney cap in order to create a large enough hole for them to fit through.

The Dangers Of Animals In The Chimney

The presence of animals in the chimney can cause damage to your fireplace system and affect future burning performance. One of the primary ways animals cause damage is to the chimney liner. In addition to scratching it with their claws, teeth, and beaks, nesting materials can also have a corrosive and weakening effect on the liner.

Nesting materials, discarded food, and animal droppings can also create chimney blockages. When dry, these materials can be extremely flammable, increasing the risk of chimney fire if they ignite. The presence of animals can also cause strong odors as well as expose your family to bugs, parasites, or bacteria.

Getting Animals Out

If you have animals in your chimney, it is important have them professionally removed as soon as possible. Working with a chimney company to have the animals removed ensures that not only will the animals and their nesting materials be safely removed, but that minimal additional damage will be done to your chimney.

Not all animals can be immediately removed; chimney swifts and other species of migratory birds are protected by federal law. Removing protected migratory bird nests can come with a hefty fine. Luckily, the nesting cycle for chimney swifts is relatively short; most hatchlings have left the nest in around 6 weeks, allowing homeowners to remove the nests and repair their point of entry after.

Preventing Animal Entry

Once the animals have been removed, it is important to take the steps to keep them from re-entering your chimney. One of the best ways to do this is by finding and securing their point of entry. Installing a new chimney cap, a stainless steel screen, or a rain cover can all help protect against animal reentry.

While it may be fun to spot baby animals out and about in nature, the last place we want to see them is in our chimneys. To protect your chimney against animal entry – or to have animals safely removed – contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Give Chimney Swifts A Proper Home

During the spring and summer, nesting birds can be found in tree tops, under the eaves of roof, and more. As much as you may enjoy listening to bird songs and chirps or watching baby birds grow from eggs and leave the nest, there is one place you do not want birds to take up residence – in your chimney.

While birds in your chimney may seem like just a nuisance, they can cause a surprising amount of damage. Because of this, it is recommended to have birds and bird nests safely and humanely removed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there are several species of migratory birds, including chimney swifts, that are protected by federal law and cannot be removed.Give Chimney Swifts a Proper Home Image - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley

Recognizing chimney swifts

Chimney swifts are small, grey and brown migratory birds that can be found nesting throughout the Midwest during the spring and summer. While these birds once preferred hollow trees to nest in, urbanization caused them to adapt and begin nesting in chimneys. Swifts are easily recognizable with small, cigar shaped bodies, a distinctive call, and unique, jerky flight patterns.

How swifts get into your chimney

Chimney swifts are easily access the flue through damaged chimney caps. Because they are so small, they can squeeze through holes or gaps as small as just a few inches. Once inside the chimney, swifts built their nests vertically against the walls of the flue. In addition to damaging the flue and the chimney liner, nesting materials can create blockages that prevent proper drafting and droppings can cause damage throughout the chimney system.

Give chimney swifts a proper home!

Whether you have had swifts in your chimney in the past or simply want to help provide safe nesting grounds for these migratory birds, it is easy to create a proper home for chimney swifts!

Because they prefer tall, narrow, enclosed spaces for nesting, building a nesting space for chimney swifts is as easy as building a box. Using rough plywood, construct a narrow box approximately 12 feet high, with a 1 square foot opening near the top. This gives chimney swifts an alternative nesting site, keeping them safe – and hopefully out of your chimney.

I think I have chimney swifts – now what?

If you have swifts in your chimney, there is little that can be done; because they are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, they cannot be removed until the nesting cycle is complete. Luckily, this is relatively short and hatchlings should leave the nest within 6 weeks.

Once the hatchlings have left the nest, repairs can be made to the chimney. A certified chimney sweep can help remove the nest and other debris from the chimney; they can also identify how the swifts got in and repair the point of entry to prevent them from coming back in the future.

Chimney swifts may wreak havoc on our chimney systems, but it is still important to care for these migratory birds. Building an alternate home for chimney swifts to nest in can allow you to enjoy these unique birds – but not at the expense of your chimney. For more information on preventing chimney swift entry in your home, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!

Install A Chimney Cap To Keep Animals Out

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.

Jack Pixley Provides Animal Removal

Scratching and clawing are sounds no homeowner wants to hear coming from their chimney. If you do, you may have an animal trapped inside.

The presence of an animal in the chimney is more than just a nuisance; animals often endanger themselves by getting stuck, can cause serious damage to your chimney components, and can expose your family to disease. Because of this, it is important to call a chimney professional at the first sign of animal entry.

How animals get inJack Pixley Provides Animal Removal - Minneapolis MN - Jack Pixley Sweeps

Birds, raccoons, squirrels, and a number of other animals are known for trying to find their way into chimneys. Commonly, animals are able to get into the flues of uncapped chimneys or homes where the chimney cap has been damaged. Chimney caps that are ill-fitting, have shifted, or have damaged side screens can all leave gaps big enough for animals to get into. Raccoons have also been known to claw and scratch chimney caps until they break to gain entry.

Keeping animals out

The best way to keep out of your chimney is through regular chimney maintenance. An annual chimney inspection can help spot damage to the chimney cap and other chimney components. If repairs are needed, they can be quickly and easily completed – before animals get in.

I think I have an animal in my chimney – now what?

If you hear clawing, scratching, crying, or other animal noises coming from your chimney it is important to call a chimney professional as soon as possible. While animals may be able to find their way in, most are not able to get out on their own; when trapped and disoriented in the dark, enclosed space, wildlife rescue may be needed.

It is never recommended for homeowners to attempt to “smoke out” animals. First, opening the damper to start a fire can let whatever animal is in your chimney into your home; it is much easier to get a bird out of a chimney than it is a living room! Likewise, starting a fire with an animal in the chimney can be harmful to the animal as well as your home. The smoke, heat, and gasses from the fire often kill the animals long before they are able to escape up the chimney. If there are nesting materials in the chimney, sparks and embers from the fire can cause them to ignite and lead to chimney fires.

At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we provide professional animal removal services. We identify the area the animal is trapped in and remove four bricks; this creates an area large enough for the animal to escape on its own or be removed without causing significant damage to the chimney. By having a chimney company remove the animal, we are able to not only get the animals out, but repair the damage they have caused and keep them from coming back.

The presence of an animal in your chimney endangers the animals, causes chimney damage, and can expose your family to a variety of bacteria or diseases. At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we are experts at removing animals from your chimney – and keeping them from coming back. Contact us today for more information on wild animal removal.