There’s a Squirrel in my Chimney! Our Cary Chimney Contractor Shares What to Do 

February 15, 2020

Hearing scratching, scuttling sounds in your chimney that are definitely not the sound smoke makes? You probably have a squirrel trapped in your flue. Here’s what to do (and what not to do) according to our Cary chimney contractor. 

Confirm that it is, in fact, a squirrel

Many of our customers have trouble identifying whether they have a squirrel, or a raccoon in their chimney. Fortunately, figuring out the answer is easy: Squirrels make a lot of noise during the day, and raccoons make most of their noise at night. (Time of day is a more reliable identifier than amount of noise. As you may know if you’ve ever gone camping, even a small squirrel can make a lot of noise.

Do NOT light a fire in the flue 

We’re sure that the majority of our customers don’t want to light up a cute little squirrel. But just in case you’re tempted to start up a fire, think again. Firstly, this will not work because you will have to open the damper in order to permit the smoke to escape. With the damper open, the squirrel will be able to come right into your home, possibly biting a family member and becoming much harder to catch. 

If you light a fire and don’t open a damper, you will kill the animal, and it will rot inside your chimney, causing a horrid smell that’s difficult to remove. Capturing it alive is better for it and you! 

If you have a brick or masonry flue…

The best way to get a squirrel out of your chimney is by placing a squirrel chimney trap at the top of the flue, which catches the critter as it exits. Yes, your little guest is probably entering and exiting freely—it has mistaken your chimney for a hollow tree in which to start a family. If there are babies inside the nest, they can then be safely removed with a long chimney snare pole (preferably by a wildlife removal specialist. Remove all squirrels at your own risk.) You can also set a ground trap at the base of the chimney and do the same thing, though the capture rate is not as effective as it is with a chimney trap.

Metal flues and other situations

Though most “trapped” squirrels are just visiting mothers, there are two main circumstances in which the animal really is trapped: when the chimney flue is made of slick metal, and when there is an opening cavity around the fireplace that the animal gets stuck in. In the metal flue scenario, the best thing to do is lower a rope that the squirrel can use as an escape ladder. Tie a weight to the end of the rope to help it go down. If the squirrel is in the fireplace, the rope trick can sometimes work. In some cases, though, you will need to cut a hole in the wall cavity surrounding the chimney. If you don’t, the animal will die there and cause a horrible smell.

Preventing this from happening again

When a female squirrel is choosing a nest, she climbs around trees, houses, and any other dry, safe-seeming place. An open chimney without a chimney cap is a perfect option. Therefore, if you want to make your chimney a squirrel-free zone, you will need to schedule a Cary chimney inspection to repair or replace your chimney cap. If you don’t have a chimney cap right now, make sure that the fireplace damper is closed, or critters that get into the chimney can come right into your home, where they’ll be much harder to catch. For help with all your chimney-related needs, call Nexus Chimney Services today!