There’s a Squirrel in my Chimney! What to Do

June 4, 2019

Ah, spring. The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, and the squirrels…are hopefully in the trees, and not in your chimney. Unfortunately, ‘tis the season to find something small and fluffy (or feathery) hanging out in your chimney flue, and the season where we spend the most time fishing them out. Here are some tips in getting a squirrel out of your chimney from a certified Apex chimney company. (For the purposes of this article, we’re assuming that it’s a live squirrel. A dead squirrel is another story.)

Do I have squirrels or raccoons?

First things first: If you hear a lot of scratching and scuffling in your fireplace, you’re gonna need to know what you’re dealing with. Fortunately, figuring out the answer is easy: squirrels make a lot of noise during the day, and raccoons make a lot of noise at night. This is a more reliable identification method than sound, because even a small squirrel can make a lot of noise.

Why is there a squirrel in my chimney?

When a female squirrel is picking 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. Once the squirrel’s chosen your chimney, she climbs down the flue and sets up a nest at the bottom. Therefore, if you have a brick or stone chimney, you’re probably not dealing with a trapped squirrel; you’re dealing with a squirrel who thinks she’s being evicted!

How to safely remove a squirrel 

Firstly, it’s important not to start a fire in the chimney. You will have to open the damper to let the smoke out, and the squirrel will then be able to come right into your home. If you don’t open the damper, or if the squirrel doesn’t come into your house, you will cook the animal alive and get a horrendous odor that will be difficult or impossible to remove.

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. If there are babies inside the nest, they can then be safely removed with a long chimney snare pole (preferably by a wildlife specialist of chimney contractor. 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.

What if the squirrel is truly trapped?

There are two main instances in which the squirrel becomes 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, but sometimes 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.

Making sure this doesn’t happen again

Once you’ve gotten rid of all the squirrels in your life, install a sturdy steel chimney cap to prevent the same situation from happening again. Make sure to have your chimney inspected semi-annually, to ensure that the chimney cap has not been broken, damaged, or moved. 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.

Call Nexus Chimney for all your Cary, Apex, and Raleigh Chimney Needs

If you need help with your damper, chimney cap, chimney, or fireplace, call Nexus Chimney Services today. We can help close up your chimney so that no critters or birds get inside, as well as get rid of smelly, harmful creosote buildup! To schedule your Cary chimney inspection, click here.