Now that warm spring weather has arrived, birds’ nests can be seen popping up seemingly overnight in bushes and trees – and even chimneys. While it may not seem like a big deal to have a bird in your chimney – especially in the summer when fireplaces and other heating appliances are typically not used – birds can carry disease as well as cause damage to your chimney and flue.
How do birds get in?
Birds and other animals often view chimneys as safe places to nest and avoid predators. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not want their chimney to turn into nesting grounds. The best way to keep a chimney protected against bird and animal entry is with a chimney cap.
The most common way for birds and other animals to get into your chimney is through an uncapped chimney or damaged chimney cap. Even if they chimney cap has only a small hole or crack, most birds are able to wiggle their way in. Because of this, it is extremely important to have the chimney regularly inspected for signs of damage or deterioration.
The dangers of birds in the chimney
While it may not seem like anything more than a minor inconvenience to have birds in the chimney, it can actually cause major chimney issues as well as potential health problems to your family.
When birds nest in your chimney, their nests may sometimes block the flue completely. This prevents smoke and gas from the fireplace to fully vent, instead backing up into your home. Likewise, over time nesting materials can dry out, becoming increasingly brittle and at risk for igniting from sparks from the fireplace.
In addition to the fire hazard nesting materials cause, birds themselves are often carriers of disease. Bird droppings are often a toxic combination of various bacteria; ironically, homeowners are most at risk when they attempt to clean these droppings themselves. Instead, trust a professional with the correct safety equipment to remove them.
Preventing birds in the chimney
The best way to keep birds out of your chimney is through a good chimney cap and regular chimney maintenance. An annual chimney inspection is an excellent way to make sure the chimney cap has not been damaged. Likewise, an inspection can often catch other signs that animals are trying to get into your chimney such as scratches around the chimney cap or flashing.
If you have had birds in your chimney before, simply getting them out may not be enough. Oftentimes, birds return to the same areas each year to nest. This is especially true of migratory birds which are known to return to the exact same tree year after year. Because of this, it is important to fix how the birds are getting in to keep them from coming back. Furthermore, some birds, like the Chimney Swift, are protected by federal law by the Migratory Bird Act Treaty and cannot be moved once they nest. It is best to prevent them from nesting in the first place!
If you’ve had problems with past animal entry or fear you may have birds currently building a nest in your chimney and live around Littleton, contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney today. Our highly trained technicians can help repair your chimney to keep animals out – for good.