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!