Our Company Blog

Chimney Swifts are Coming

Spring can bring a lot of trouble for a chimney in North America. Rain can penetrate a vulnerable system and cause water damage, humidity can mingle with a dirty chimney and cause unwelcome odors, and animals can get in and damage the entire system. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about them.

The Uncapped Chimney

Your chimney cap is important for the safe function and protection of your chimney year-round. When a fire is burning, the cap keeps sparks from leaving the flue opening. It also can prevent wind gusts from affecting your fire, and will keep water from falling in when it’s raining. Additionally, equip your cap with a metal mesh perimeter to keep small and large animals out during the burn season and the offseason.

It’s important to prevent animal intrusion because no matter how big or small they are, they will most likely leave damage. Clawed animals will scratch the chimney liner, regardless of material. A small scratch becomes a vulnerable place that is more easily damaged by corrosive chemical byproducts of your fire. It also promotes buildup because even slight damage can slow the airflow in the flue. Animals that come into the chimney and leave on their own often leave bedding, fur, droppings, and more behind them. These materials are flammable and can affect airflow. Although many chimney professionals offer sweeps and humane animal removal, it may be that the animal cannot be removed.

Federally Protected Swifts

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects chimney swifts and makes it illegal to remove them or to tamper with them in any way. This means that once a swift is in your chimney system, they cannot be removed, and you cannot light a fire or do anything to harm them while they are there. They will leave on their own once nesting season is over, but this could take up to 90 days! These birds even bring their friends, resulting in swarms of birds in one chimney. Instead of dealing with the hassle of having hundreds of birds in your chimney all summer long, allowing them to possibly damage it, and leave clutter for you to deal with later, prevent them from getting in in the first place.

What You Can Do

You can prevent chimney swifts from getting in by making sure your chimney is properly capped. Small animals can also get inside through damaged or dislodged caps. In fact, anything that can climb or fly onto your roof can also climb or fly into your flue. If you don’t want the swifts in your chimney system, but want to help them find adequate and safe habitats, you can build a swift tower . These birds historically nested in hollow trees, which grew scarce as North America developed. There are some homeowners that choose to let swifts nest in their chimneys, using a chimney cap with a special design. While we don’t recommend it, we do clean up after them and make sure your chimney is ready for a fire when fall arrives.

Want to learn more about chimney swifts? Talk to an expert at Hudson Chimney and call 904-282-4159!

All About Chimney Swifts

If you have ever heard chattering, fluttering, and other noises coming from your chimney as the weather gets warmer, there is a good possibility that chimney swifts have taken over your chimney as their new home. These migratory birds are named for their habit of nesting in chimneys. Once a family of chimney swifts has nested in your chimney, it is illegal to remove them. Some of our customers choose to share their chimneys with these birds every year. However, Hudson Chimney is often asked how to prevent chimney swifts from setting up their summer homes in their chimneys, and we recommend installing a chimney cap with mesh siding to keep these birds from ever entering your chimney. We would like to tell you more about chimney swifts and what you can do about them nesting in your chimney.

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What exactly are chimney swifts?

According to the Driftwood Wildlife Association’s project to promote the conservation of chimney swifts, they are fascinating, adaptable birds who learned to nest and roost in chimneys when their native habitat of large hollow trees in forests of North America were cut down. The birds make their return from South America after their wintering is over, and as they are migratory, they tend to return to the same nesting area. However, if a family of chimney swifts does nest in your chimney, you should be aware that these birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and removing or destroying nests with eggs or young can result in fines and penalties.

What should I do if I would like to share my chimney with chimney swifts?

On the Driftwood Wildlife Association’s website, the article “Being a Good Chimney Swift Landlord” offers invaluable tips for those who do not mind sharing their chimney with these birds. Because they do only nest during the summer season, this article recommends having your chimney swept in mid-March to have all of the creosote build-up removed. An abundance of creosote deposits makes it impossible for the chimney swifts to build their nests to the walls without danger of falling. This article also stresses the importance of chimney swifts being protected by federal law and warns against chimney sweep businesses who illegally remove chimney swift nests and eggs. Be wary of companies who advertise “bird removal,” as this is a blatant violation of state and federal laws that protect migratory birds. Instead, choose a trusted company like Hudson Chimney to perform your annual chimney sweep. Even though the noises of the baby birds chirping for food can be shrill and annoying, they will not last forever. Remember that this is only temporary, and after this short period, you will practically not even realize the chimney shifts are there. However, be sure your damper is completely closed to keep them from flying into your house.

What should I do after the chimney swifts leave in the fall?

The nests of these birds are small, cup-shaped constructions of small twigs glued to chimney walls by the saliva of the chimney swifts. Too small to be a fire hazard, you will still need to contact Hudson Chimney to remove the nest after they leave in the fall. This is needed to remove bird parasites. Additionally, as chimney swifts tend to return to the same nesting spot, you do not want them to try to use the old nest as it will be unstable and probably collapse.

What if I want to prevent these birds from nesting in my chimney?

A good quality chimney cap that is equipped with mesh screening is the best prevention against chimney swifts moving into your chimney. Hudson Chimney sells and installs a variety of different caps, and we can advise you on the best time to install your new chimney cap.

Want to know more information about chimney swifts? Contact Hudson Chimney to learn more about these birds as well as about chimney cap installation.

Bird and Animal Nesting Prevention

You hear about it happening to other people, but you’ve never thought that it would happen to you. An animal has made its way into your chimney! Birds, critters, or anything that can climb on your roof could get inside your chimney. Or worst, the intruders have made your chimney their home. What do you do now? We are going to learn some of the problems that comes with animals and critters invading your chimney, and how our professionals at Hudson Chimney can help get rid of this problem or preventing it from happening in the first place.

The Problems With Animal Intrusion

If your chimney cap is missing or damaged, you may end up with a animal trying to make a nest in your flue. Once inside, they may build a nest, carrying in debris that could ignite or block the flue completely. They may also leave behind a flue obstruction that might smell so foul that it could run you out of the house. If the animal does end up leaving on its own, they could still potentially leave behind nesting materials such as feathers, fur, and even droppings.

Additionally, small mammals may climb out of a chimney using their teeth and claws, scratching and damaging your flue liner. Small scratches on the surface of the liner may not seem like a big deal, but these scratches will collect creosote and soot that continues to corrode the already damaged area. This will eventually become a hazard, which could cause major issues for your masonry and put your safety at risk.

Chimney Swifts

Critters are not the only thing that can make its way into your chimney flue. You may hear the chirping of birds from time to time. A bird may fly in and out of your chimney, or they may even move into your chimney completely! Chimney swifts are a species of bird that move into chimneys and nest in them.

In fact, chimney swifts naturally nest in hollow trees. When North America began to colonize, this eventually lead to more chimneys than hollow trees, so these birds adapted. Now they nest in chimneys, and if your chimney isn’t capped, they’ll be in yours too. Chimney swifts are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and they are unlawful to be removed or harmed while staying in your chimney. You may even want us to come do a humane animal removal, but this is even unlawful for us. Chimney swifts cannot be removed or tampered with. We can only wait and hope they leave on their own, which can take up to 90 days from the time they move in and nest.

Humane Animal Removal

We believe that when it comes to your chimney, you’re better safe than sorry. If you hear an animal in your chimney (even a bird), you can call us at Hudson Chimney, and we’ll determine whether the animal can be removed or not. Our process is safe for both the chimney and the animal, and shouldn’t interfere with your home at all.

If you need to schedule an appointment for animal removal, call us at 904-282-4159 today.

Install a Chimney Cap to Keep Birds and Animals Out

Your chimney works constantly to vent harmful byproducts from your home, and it’s efficiency can be greatly affected by outside factors. The chimney cap is the remedy. The cap is designed to keep outside factors from getting in! It literally caps the top of the chimney, fitting over the flue, preventing weather and wildlife from getting in, and some models even prevent wind from affecting the flue as well.

Keep Wildlife Out of the Chimney

Without a chimney cap, your flue is the perfect home to a variety of small animals. Any critter that can climb to or land on your roof can also climb into the chimney opening. Critters love the chimney because it’s dry, warm, and seemingly safe. What we know as humans, though, is that it’s not safe. It’s unsafe for the animals as well as for the humans.

  • Animals leave debris behind.
    Debris is left behind in the chimney even after the animals leave. Birds leave their nests and feathers behind, and chipmunks and squirrels leave their bedding and food crumbs. Nests, leaves, feathers, and other debris can and will ignite, causing a flue fire that is very preventable.
  • Animals leave droppings behind.
    Droppings left inside the chimney flue can release toxins into the air that your family breathes. It can also result in foul smells that disrupt your life, especially during the summer when the chimney isn’t being used.
  • Animals scratch the lining of the chimney.
    When small animals climb out of the chimney, they often scratch the liner with their claws. This can be a serious problem because the scratch is a weakness in the liner that may go unnoticed, allowing heat and hazardous gasses to escape the flue and transfer to the home. The scratch can also collect excess soot and creosote, causing more deterioration in an already weak spot.
  • Animals can get stuck.
    When an animal cannot get out of the chimney, it will get stuck and die, resulting in a blockage and a nasty odor. There is no mistaking the smell of decomposition, and if this occurs in your home, it will overpower everything else.
  • Some animals cannot be removed.
    A species of migratory birds called chimney swifts nest in chimneys throughout North America during the spring months. Since this bird is federally protected, not even a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS) can legally remove them. While some homeowners opt to allow the birds access to their chimneys, it is best to prevent their entrance in the first place. Hundreds of birds can inhabit the same chimney, and they are a loud and raucous little group. They will stay in the chimney until their eggs are hatched and young-lings can fly, which can be months.

You can still enjoy wildlife, while not allowing them to enjoy your chimney!

To avoid housing the forest’s friends, you should schedule a chimney sweep as early as possible after burning season is over, and then close out the system for the season. Be sure to have your chimney sweep check that the cap is intact. At Hudson Chimney, we install a variety of custom and standard caps, and all of them can keep animals out of your flue.

Call Hudson today at 904-282-4159 to discuss what a new chimney cap can do for you!

Be Sure No Animals Have Taken Up Residence in Your Chimney Before You Light a Fire

Hearing strange noises coming from your chimney is a sure sign that birds or other animals like squirrels or raccoons have mistaken your chimney for a tree and moved inside for the winter. If you have a family of birds or animals living inside your chimney, you should never attempt to smoke them out by lighting a fire. This can result in severely burning or killing the animals and creating an even larger problem. Our staff at Hudson Chimney is used to dealing with these critters invading chimneys, and we can safely remove them to allow your fireplace and chimney to be used without problems. We would like to tell you more about how to deal with birds and animals in your chimney by sharing with you some information from Chimneys.com.

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BIRDS

Typically, birds will build nests on the smoke shelf or just above the damper, but some types of birds build their nests on the sides of chimney liners. You can even have multiple bird nests inside your chimney at one time. The biggest problem you can have with a bird nest in your chimney is that the nest can block your flue, and this can lead to carbon monoxide being forced back into your home. As nesting materials are highly flammable, there is also the risk of a chimney fire. Birds also carry diseases like histoplasmosis, which can cause blindness. If you have migratory birds such as chimney swifts living in your chimney, it is illegal to have these birds removed. You will have to wait until the late spring when they leave their nests to have these nests taken away from your chimney.

SQUIRRELS

Squirrels build nests by packing them very tightly, which makes them difficult to remove. Hudson Chimney has heard reports of chimney sweeps needing hours to remove nests that were over 15 feet long! Not only do the nests of squirrels block the flue of your chimney, but squirrels themselves can open up the damper and enter your home to cause even more damage.

RACCOONS

If you have a raccoon in your chimney, we strongly recommend that you leave its removal to professionals and do not attempt to get the animal out yourself. Raccoons can be very aggressive and will bite you. They also carry diseases like rabies and roundworm.

HOW DO I KEEP BIRDS AND ANIMALS OUT OF MY CHIMNEY?

The best way to keep these critters from taking up residence in your chimney is to have a good quality chimney cap installed at the top of the chimney. Be sure the cap is equipped with metal mesh siding, and you will also want to choose a cap constructed from copper or stainless steel as birds and animals can tear up caps made from aluminum.

Heard sounds of birds or animals coming from your chimney? Contact us at Hudson Chimney as soon as possible to ask for our help on removing these critters safely.