What can I do if an animal gets into my flue?
I got a funny call the other day from a lady who had recently had a bird fly down her flue. I should clarify, that it was funny for me because she told the story in a funny way. For her it was understandably stressful, but she was at the point where she could laugh at the situation. She said the bird managed to get all the way into her home making a huge mess in the process. There was bird droppings, soot (creosote), and feathers everywhere. She called us to avoid this happening again.
In this case, the damage is done, but there are a few things you can try once an animal gets into your flue.
The first course of action is to call a wildlife rescue organization. Wildlife rescues hold the appropriate licenses needed to remove animals. There is a $250,000 fine that can be imposed on anyone who tries to move wildlife without the correct credentials, so not everyone is willing and/or able to do this.
The second option is more of a DIY approach. In this case, you might try dropping a long rope down your flue. The idea is to give the critter something to hold on to to climb its way out. All you do in this case is drop the line and get out of the way. Also, don’t forget to remove the line before using your chimney again.
The best course of action, however, is to avoid this happening at all. If you don’t yet have a chimney cap, get one. Chimney caps keep the critters out as well as act as spark arrestors. They’re code to have them in San Diego County on account of the fact that we live in a tinder box. Chimney caps should be specific for your type of flue so we always suggest hiring a licensed and certified chimney professional to install the correct piece.