Total Chimney Care's Blog

Chimney caps keep critters out

You hear the sound of rustling in your chimney, or the chirping of birds coming from your walls. Or worse, you start to smell a rotting smell coming from your fireplace — An animal has become trapped in your chimney and died. Many homeowners worry about the possibility of birds or animals entering their chimneys. Too few take measure to keep birds, bats and wild animals from entering their chimney. Don’t take a risk; install a chimney cap — Chimney caps keep critters out of chimneys!

Chimney Caps - New Have CT - Total Chimney Care

Are birds and animals in the chimney really a problem?

Birds and animals are naturally attracted to your chimney. For some animals, like squirrels, raccoons, swifts and bats, chimneys provide a warm, dark refuge from the elements. Other animals happen upon a chimney, make the mistake of exploring and become trapped. Once an animal is in your chimney, they can cause damage to the chimney liner. They also can build nests that block your chimney, preventing smoke from escaping and causing a fire hazard. Birds and animals in the chimney also have the potential to introduce bacteria into your home. A trapped animal trying to find its way out just might find its way past your chimney damper and into your home, where it can cause chaos and damage and even injure your family or pets. Animals can also introduce all sorts of odors into your home. They can leave behind food scraps that rot, build smelly nests or even become trapped and die. The best way to protect your home from potential problems caused by an animal intrusion through the chimney is to keep animals out of your chimney from the start.

Keeping animals out of your chimney with a chimney cap

The easiest, cheapest, and best way to keep out critters out of your chimney is to install a chimney cap. When it comes to keeping animals out of your chimney, not all chimney caps are created equal. To keep critters out, you must install a sturdy chimney cap that is surrounded on all sides by metal caging that is small enough to prevent, birds, bats, chipmunks and other small pests from accessing the opening of your chimney flue. Keep in mind that not all chimney caps are designed to keep critters out of your chimney flue as well as rainwater; some are only designed as small roofs to shelter the chimney flue from precipitation. Look for a chimney cap that’s specifically designed to keep birds, bats and animals out of the chimney flue.

When it comes to dealing with animals in the chimney, it’s far better to prevent the problem by blocking your chimney off from animals in the first place. Keep critters out with a chimney cap! Call Total Chimney Care; we can recommend a chimney cap that will protect your chimney from birds, bats and pests, and we will install it securely to fully protect your chimney from an animal invasion.

By Steve Sobczak on May 31st, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney swifts and your chimney

Do you hear chirping and rustling in your chimney? Do you notice birds flying in and out of your chimney around dusk each evening? Then chances are you have chimney swifts inside your chimney.

Chimney swifts are migratory birds that spend summer in the northeastern United States before flying to Peru for the winter. Chimney swifts build their nests on protected vertical surfaces. Their preferred nesting location — hollowed out trees — is a scarcity in many areas. So they have adapted to make their homes on the inner walls of masonry chimneys, which is the perfect surface for constructing nests from twigs.

How can you tell if you have chimney swifts?

Chimney swifts and your chimney - Fairfield & New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareChimney swifts are really noise. You will hear the rustling of wings and movement in your chimney as adult birds construct their nests. That noise will eventually be followed by chirping of baby birds. If you think you’re hearing chimney swifts in your chimney, the best way is standing outside your home near dusk. This is when they leave their nest to feed on insects. They have dark gray cigar-shaped bodies, squared-off tails and a wingspan of about a foot.

Chimney swifts don’t cause any damage to your chimney, as long as you take precautions while they are inside your chimney. You should also make sure to clean your chimney thoroughly once they leave.

What do you do if you have chimney swifts in your chimney?

If chimney swifts have taken residence in your chimney, they are staying for the summer. They are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Act, which makes it illegal to remove them or harm their nesting. If you have swifts in your chimney, close your chimney damper to prevent them from entering your home or becoming trapped. Once they leave their roost for the winter, which usually happens around November, have your chimney swept and inspected to remove the nest and debris left behind by them.

How can you help chimney swifts?

Many bird lovers look for ways to protect and aid chimney swifts. Some homeowners will even have their chimneys swept in early spring to create a welcoming habitat for chimney swifts. If you’re not willing to throw out a welcome mat for chimney swifts, there are still things you can do to help nurture chimney swifts.

First, you should install a chimney cap surrounded by a wire cage. This will keep swifts out of your chimney. You can also install a chimney roost to provide an alternative home to swifts. Look for swift roosts in your area and work to make sure those roosts are protected during the nesting season.

If you’ve had chimney swifts in your chimney this fall, call Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772! Once the swifts have left, we can clean and inspect your chimney to make sure it is safe for use this fall, and we can also install a chimney cap to prevent future nesting.

By Steve Sobczak on August 16th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Keep Critters – and More – Out With a Chimney Cap!

What’s protecting your chimney from above? If your chimney’s not fitted with a chimney cap, you’re putting your chimney, and even your home, in danger of damage from water, animals, high winds and more. Here’s why you should have a sturdy chimney cap atop your chimney flue.

Keep Animals Out

Your chimney provides the perfect environment for animals: It’s warm, it’s dark and it provides plenty of shelter from the elements. That’s why animals, from swifts and bats to squirrels and raccoons, will make their way into your chimney. Once inside, they’re happy to set up shop, building nests, bringing back food and even trying to gain entry into your home. And while some animals find shelter in your chimney, others find the chimney a hazard. They can find their way inside and become trapped, eventually dying, blocking your chimney and filling your home with a horrible smell. A chimney cap creates a barrier to animals entering your chimney flue. Installing a chimney cap is the best way to keep animals out.

Protect Your Chimney From Water Damage

Nothing can ruin your chimney and fireplace system like water. Without something to protect your chimney flue from rain, snow and sleet, water can run right down the walls of your chimney flue, damaging the chimney liner; rusting metal components of the fireplace, like the damper, fireplace grate and fireplace doors; and even entering and damaging your home’s structure. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends installing a chimney cap as the best way to protect your chimney and fireplace from water damage.

Block Downdrafts

A wind coming down your chimney can chill your home, making it feel drafty and cold. A sudden gust of wind that blows forcefully down your chimney can prove even more dangerous: It can blow smoke, embers and fireplace logs right out of your fireplace, burning anyone or anything that’s near your hearth and potentially sparking a home fire. A chimney cap can block drafts from coming down the chimney and chilling your home, and it can stop sudden downdrafts from creating a fireplace hazard.

Keep Your Rooftop Safe

The protection offered by a chimney cap goes both ways: A chimney cap outfitted with a mesh screen can keep embers in your chimney. When your fireplace burns hot enough, burning embers can pop up and out of your chimney. Those embers can ignite your rooftop, nearby trees or landscape features and neighboring structures. The right chimney cap can save your home from a rooftop fire hazard.

So, is your home protected from critters, moisture, downdrafts and burning embers with a chimney cap? If your chimney is missing a cap, or if your chimney cap is in disrepair, get your chimney protected as soon as possible! Call Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772 or schedule an appointment online to have your chimney outfitted with a new chimney cap!

By Steve Sobczak on March 28th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Common Blockages

What’s Up Your Chimney?

Every homeowner owes it to themselves to become aware of the condition of any part of their house. And like every appliance or piece of furniture, a chimney requires just as much attention. There always has to be proper and regular maintenance to ensure the safety and continued functionality of your chimney.

Now, here’s the thing: a chimney is one of the more exposed features of a house. And it can be easily susceptible to certain objects getting in and blocking the chimney. This is already a problem in itself, but it can cause even bigger problems to arise—making it harder for you to balance the necessary expenditures at home. We, at Total Care Chimney would like you to understand what could cause these blockages and how we can absolutely help you with solving that problem.

It is completely expected that something will get in and muck up the ventilation in your chimney system. Annual cleaning and inspection is meant to prevent and clear any obstructions.

It is completely expected that something will get in and muck up the ventilation in your chimney system. Annual cleaning and inspection is meant to prevent and clear any obstructions.

There are a number of things that can cause a blockage in your chimney. Here are some of the very common ones:

  • Leaves and debris. These items are all around and can rapidly fall and accumulate in chimneys during any season. At first they will seem insignificant but once there’s too much already, there is a risk for incomplete combustion and negative air pressure to occur, driving smoke into the house
  • Bird nests. Birds want to nest in open chimneys to breed and hatch their eggs because it gives them added protection from the environment. They surround chimneys during winter – the time for them to breed and make babies.
  • Spider webs. Lastly, these are the most underestimated and one of the most common blockages in the chimney. Spider webs are typically soft, easy to reach and easy to take out but are hidden most of the time and appear only when the problem becomes grave. One spider web is nothing, but thousands of webs will give you a problem.

There is Only One Solution

So these are the common blockages in the chimney and the best way to solve this is to have a chimney cap installed. This can help prevent anything from entering your chimney. This will allow you to truly enjoy your chimney all four seasons of the year, hassle-free. This does not only prevent blockages but can also lessen the chances for fires to start, carbon monoxide poisoning to happen and negative air pressure to occur. Total Care Chimney can definitely help you with that.

Common Causes of Chimney and Fireplace Odors

When it comes to smelly chimneys and fireplaces, a common culprit is creosote. Caused by the burning of fuel, such as wood, creosote will build up over time, and must be cleaned. It is important to remember, however, that there are other potential causes of foul odor. Things like water and excess chimney draft can cause these smells, so it is important to have a chimney inspection to determine the exact cause of the odor.

Picture of : Woman holding nose

Chimney odors are signals to have your annual inspection.

If the problem turns out to be creosote, make sure a CSIA certified chimney sweep conducts a thorough inspection and       cleaning. You’ll want to make sure no creosote is left behind on the chimney liner due to its extreme flammability. The CSIA certification will help you ensure that a competent and professional sweep is on the job. A chimney sweep that performs non-compliant work can cause an unnecessary tragedy.

If water ends up being the source of the smell, it is likely a problem with your damper. Chimney dampers that are old and corroded will often allow rainwater to get into the chimney. Improperly installed dampers will do the same. This isn’t the end of the world, however. A new damper can be installed to properly keep water out. Remember, if water was the source of the foul odor, make sure your sweep checks for structural damage. Brick and mortar chimneys are prone to water damage.

Chimney odors are not just unpleasant to smell. These odors can have noxious fumes that can hurt you, your family, and your pets. Don’t put off necessary cleaning and maintenance of your chimneys. Standards for maintenance have been developed over the course of many years, and exist to keep everyone in your home safe. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you or someone you know is experiencing foul odors coming from their fireplace and chimney.