Spring and summer can mean good things for your chimney system. For example, shutting the system down is a wonderful feeling when you have the maintenance completed and closes the system off for the off-season knowing it’s ready for fall! However, spring and summer can be problematic if your system isn’t closed and properly protected.
An uncapped chimney is very inviting for animals seeking shelter. Many of these animals will crawl out on their own or escape through the fireplace, where you can safely let them out of the house. However, there is one animal that may make itself at home, and you have to let it.
The chimney swift historically nested in hollow trees throughout the U.S. However, these hollow trees have become less available as land is developed. What stands in their place? Homes–with chimneys! These little birds find chimneys to be an adequate replacement for the hollow trees they need for nesting during the spring and summer, and they’re so small that they can gain access even through a small hole in the chimney cap.
The Problem with Swifts
Due to the lack of natural habitat in the U.S., chimney swifts are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means they are as protected from harm as the eagle, and harming them or hindering them in any way is a federal offense, punishable with a fine of up to $15,000 and/or imprisonment up to six months. If they gain access to your chimney, you can neither use your fireplace, nor remove them. Not even a professional can legally remove these birds from your chimney. They will stay in your chimney through the entire nesting process, which may take up to 90 days!
Preventing Animal Intrusion
The best way to deal with animals in the chimney are preventative measures. You should have your chimney inspected on a regular basis by a certified professional. Robinson Maintenance Repair completes preventative maintenance, repairs, installations, and more all year round. If we see that your chimney top is missing a cap or is damaged, we will replace it with a new one that will prevent animals from getting in, protect it from rain and weather, and keep sparks in while you burn a fire in the winter.
Some environmentally-conscious homeowners leave the flue open or buy a cap specifically designed to let these birds in. We do not recommend this option, since any animal in the chimney flue can leave debris and damage behind. Instead, homeowners can build a swift tower that provides a habitat for chimney swifts year after year and doesn’t affect your chimney at all.
If your chimney has a chimney swift in it this summer, there is hope. They will soon migrate back to South America, and you can have the chimney serviced in time for fall. Luckily, our technicians are well-versed in bird law, so call RMR to request an appointment or get an estimate today!