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HomeHomes
Published: Wednesday, 3/15/2006

Guard Your Home Against Chimney Critters

Homeowners need to think about critters taking up residence in their chimneys. During nesting season, birds, raccoons and squirrels often look for safe and dry places to stay, and homeowners with unguarded, idle chimneys might find themselves hosting some unwanted guests until fall and cooler temperatures arrive. These animals can be extremely loud and disruptive, compromise the safe use of the chimney and pose health hazards.

Sooty Bob, a.k.a. Bob Daniels, founder of HomeSaver, Inc., advocates that the simple installation of a chimney cap can save homeowners from the hazard of chimney critters. HomeSaver specializes in making chimneys safer through the production and sale of chimney liners, chimney caps and fireplace dampers.

Having an animal nest or live in your chimney is an aggravating and unsanitary experience. It can also be unsafe, says Sooty Bob.

Even if the critters remain confined to the chimney, their presence can have major consequences throughout the home. The animals can transmit disease through their droppings, and their nests and dens can block the release of smoke and other toxins, resulting in smoke spillage, carbon monoxide poisonings and chimney fires.

Depending on the situation, evicting a chimney critter can be as straightforward as extracting an abandoned nest or as complicated as removing a family of live animals. For safety, homeowners should contact a professional in order to perform the service, either a chimney sweep or a wildlife control specialist. When choosing a service professional, homeowners should consider the overall safety of their chimney and time elapsed since the chimney was last cleaned. Most sweeps offer animal removal in addition to comprehensive cleaning, whereas most wildlife control specialists aren t trained in this service. The process varies on a case-by-case basis, but typically lasts 60 to 90 minutes and starts around $100.

Animals love to nest in chimneys, says Kirk La Pierre, certified wildlife control professional and general manger of Saver-NGM in Rutherford, NJ. Chimneys resemble hollow trees so they assume they re safe, warm places to settle down and raise a family.

Installation of a chimney cap can prevent animals access to the chimney. This metal device attaches to the top of a chimney, sealing off the opening, while allowing smoke and toxins to exit.

Not only does a chimney cap provide a barrier from nesting animals, but it is an important safety feature for every chimney, adds Bob.

Chimney caps trap embers and sparks, reducing chances of a fire, and shield the flue from snow or rain that can damage bricks and mortar. Chimney caps can also increase the draft of the chimney -- the upward movement of air in the chimney that ushers smoke and gasses up and out.



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