Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

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celia
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Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by celia » Sun May 12, 2019 12:59 am

About 4 or 5 days ago, we starting hearing a noise in our chimney sounding like something rubbing the inside chimney wall with a little fluttering to it. Our best guess is a bird fell down the chimney, but we are not sure it is a bird. We also have possums, stray cats, squirrels roaming the neighborhood (in the suburbs). Our house is two stories high and we have back-to-back chimneys on the wall in question. The rooms that have fireplaces are the living room and family room but the noise is only heard in the family room.

I made a mental note to pull it out on the weekend and forgot about it until we heard it again today. So to make some progress, I found some cross diagrams of what a chimney looks like inside: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cr ... &FORM=IGRE

It looks like the damper swivels (open when using the fireplace, else close it to retain heat in the house) and there is a flat area next to the damper called a "smoke shelf" which appears to be the only place the animal could be.

Of course, I could spend some money and find a chimney sweep who would remove it (need a financial angle in the post), but it would be faster to clean the inside of the chimney, crouch down inside it, open the damper and try to grab whatever it is, while wearing a thick glove to minimize bites. DH is willing to bury it in the yard, but what if it isn't dead yet?

What do you think of this plan?
Anything else I should be aware of?
What did you do in a similar situation?
Last edited by celia on Sun May 12, 2019 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

retire2022
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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by retire2022 » Sun May 12, 2019 1:03 am

op

Don't know other than Chimneys are generally made out of fire proofed materials and possibly asbestos, I would get chimney sweeper and call it a day, any blockage could cause carbon monoxide backup and possibly a fire hazard.

best

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Watty
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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Watty » Sun May 12, 2019 1:16 am

You could also have birds nesting in the chimney. My son had the appropriately named chimney swift nesting in his chimney and it turned out they were a protected species. Had to wait until they left later in the year to clean out the empty nest and put screening over the chimney to keep them from returning.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by jbranx » Sun May 12, 2019 1:35 am

Based on time of year and the fluttering noise, high probability it's a nesting bird pair. Here's just one service in southern CA that discusses the issue and the remedies:
https://weststarchimneys.com/are-birds- ... -can-help/

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by IowaFarmBoy » Sun May 12, 2019 4:56 am

Thirty years ago when I was building houses, the damper only opened up so far (IIRC maybe 3-ish inches) and it made a fairly sharp bend to prevent downdrafts from blowing directly back in so you may not have much access with the route you are planning. I don't think I could have gotten my hand through let along pull a possum through. There are many ways chimneys have been constructed so your mileage may vary.

FWIW, I occasionally encountered noises coming from a chimney- most common were nesting birds like others have mentioned. We once had a squirrel get down through ours and into the house. Chaos ensued. Our dog had his best day ever.
Last edited by IowaFarmBoy on Sun May 12, 2019 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by carolinaman » Sun May 12, 2019 6:51 am

We got bats in our chimney. I still remember our dog barking at a large bat through the glass screen. That motivated me to install a chimney cap to prevent more critters into the chimney and fireplace.

You could start a fire. That will cause any live animal to get out.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Magruder » Sun May 12, 2019 7:00 am

Had the exact same thing happen at our house in Maine several years ago. Turned out to be some kind of a duck. It's mate was also observed by our neighbor sitting on the top of the chimney almost continuously for two days. Our daughter's 16 year old boyfriend donned some gloves, opened the damper, hauled him/her/it out, turned it upside down so it wouldn't flap it's wings, took it outside, put it down and it flew off never to be seen again. It was kinda sooty and blackish, tho. He had reached up thru the opened damper and the duck was on the smoke shelf behind the open damper. Good luck!

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Dandy » Sun May 12, 2019 7:10 am

You could start a fire. That will cause any live animal to get out.
You don't want to do that. I remember reading about a man who did that to get rid of an animal and it went on fire and ran under the couch. Burned the couch, rug and I believe drapes before dying. Who knows what a burning bird would do.

You should pay for someone to take care of it.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Triple digit golfer » Sun May 12, 2019 7:45 am

Your plan sounds terrible. Call a professional to get whatever it is out of there and ensure your chimney is clear.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by MnD » Sun May 12, 2019 8:27 am

We used to get non-nesting Western Flickers (largish terrifying pointy-beaked woodpecker type bird) in our chimney and unable to fly out.
They would get all the way into fireplace itself or we could get them down from the smoke shelf area.
DW would catch them after quite a flappy battle and quickly stuff them in a pillow case for transport and release outside. I would provide technical assistance such as opening the front door once the bird was caught. I would not suggest reaching up into the smoke shelf area if it was an unknown animal. When we installed a wood burning insert in the fireplace a screened chimney cap was installed so no more flickers.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Spirit Rider » Sun May 12, 2019 8:36 am

Dandy wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 7:10 am
You could start a fire. That will cause any live animal to get out.
You don't want to do that. I remember reading about a man who did that to get rid of an animal and it went on fire and ran under the couch. Burned the couch, rug and I believe drapes before dying. Who knows what a burning bird would do.

You should pay for someone to take care of it.
You do a small controlled burn and only open the damper to the first notch. There is no space for any critter to get through and they will be pursuaded there are better places to be.

You can use firesticks or my favorite recommended by my sweep, a can of sterno supported just below the flue. I have used the latter technique successfully for decades.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Kenkat » Sun May 12, 2019 8:53 am

Watty wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 1:16 am
You could also have birds nesting in the chimney. My son had the appropriately named chimney swift nesting in his chimney and it turned out they were a protected species. Had to wait until they left later in the year to clean out the empty nest and put screening over the chimney to keep them from returning.
I had this exact scenario at my prior house with a wood burning fireplace.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by fposte » Sun May 12, 2019 8:54 am

If it’s a squirrel, it’s not going to be able to climb up of its own accord. I had one fall into my chimney and successfully followed the internet advice to make a lane for it between the fireplace and the door by blocking off other directions, then opened the damper. It didn’t come right out but waited for a few minutes, then headed out as aimed.

I tend to doubt it’s a squirrel if it’s still active after four days of being trapped. However, it’s still not clear if it’s something that can volitionally leave or not. Do you have a private nuisance-animal business where you are? That’s who I’d contact around here first, and if they wanted to send me to a chimney sweep they’d probably know who was best equipped.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by gtd98765 » Sun May 12, 2019 9:18 am

We hired a chimney sweep company to remove the animal and install chimney caps. Successful all around.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by teen persuasion » Sun May 12, 2019 9:31 am

Our chimney is on an exterior wall, and has a clean-out door at the base on the outside. Whenever we hear fluttering in the chimney, we know a bird, usually a starling, has gotten itself trapped and can't fly out. If we open the clean-out door and stand back, they immediately fly out and away.

We have had an owl somehow find its way past the chimney and into the woodstove. DH donned a pair of welder's gloves to carefully grab it. I think we probably wrapped it in a towel until he took it outside to release it. It was a tiny little thing - we weren't sure if it was full grown, just a small species, or a young bird.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by SGM » Sun May 12, 2019 10:04 am

We had a bird nest in one chimney and a racoon in another.

I recently found a 3 foot tall great horned owl standing on the fireplace mantle. I was covered from head to toe with thick clothes and hit it from across the room with a size 15 shoe. The bird fell to the floor and looked at me in shock its talons twitching. Using a large woolen poncho I gently kicked it out of the house. It survived to hunt another day. The owls talons could rip the head off a fox so I was glad to see it released back into the wild. We have had bats and small birds fall through the chimney. An old chimney will lose some mortar so that the bars to keep animals out no longer work. When my wife's co-volunteers heard the story they gave me a large owl decorated coffee mug as a trophy.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by depressed » Sun May 12, 2019 10:07 am

We had the same problem years ago, and we blasted opera music up the chimney. The critters left quickly, and we capped the top. Fortunately, we got to it before the babies were born.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by 2babogle » Sun May 12, 2019 10:07 am

If it's a small animal of the rodent variety, dropping a rope down the chimney will be enough for them to crawl out. Bats and nesting birds will probably move on after they're finished. I don't recommend making a lane in your house to direct a squirrel to the door. They'll be in your curtains or closet before you know it.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sun May 12, 2019 10:12 am

We called a pest removal company after our first experience of having a squirrel fall down the chimney. And added a hardware cloth screen over the top of the chimney.

The first time was funny, after it was over.

A squirrel fell down the chimney, and was in the firebox. So, being a DIYer, I got a laundry basket and my plan was to get the squirrel in the basket, put a cover over it, and let it go outside.

Well, all the while wife was standing on the sofa screaming, "Be careful, it might have rabies!!" So, I saw the squirrel enter the basket, but as I tried to cover the basket, the little guy slipped pass me. About that time our cat came into the living room, and proceeded to chase the squirrel.

Now of all the stupid things I did that day, I had opened up the door to our sun room, and the door from the sun room to outside. That was the only smart thing I did, however.

So, the cat starts chasing the squirrel around the room, wife is really screaming now, and as luck would have it, the squirrel jumped up, and ran across the back of the sofa, followed by the cat in hot pursuit. The squirrel made another circuit of the room, and found the open doors, and exited the house. Wife has never thought the episode was funny.

Thus ended my wildlife extraction DIY career.

Broken Man 1999

BTW, you have to be careful in the covering of your chimney, we converted to LP gas logs, so we don't even need to vent. Having the damper closed really keeps the heat in from the gas logs. We had to sign a statement that no real wood would be used before the hardware cloth was installed.
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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Scrapr » Sun May 12, 2019 11:09 am

Broken Man 1999 wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:12 am
We called a pest removal company after our first experience of having a squirrel fall down the chimney. And added a hardware cloth screen over the top of the chimney.

The first time was funny, after it was over.

A squirrel fell down the chimney, and was in the firebox. So, being a DIYer, I got a laundry basket and my plan was to get the squirrel in the basket, put a cover over it, and let it go outside.

Well, all the while wife was standing on the sofa screaming, "Be careful, it might have rabies!!" So, I saw the squirrel enter the basket, but as I tried to cover the basket, the little guy slipped pass me. About that time our cat came into the living room, and proceeded to chase the squirrel.

Now of all the stupid things I did that day, I had opened up the door to our sun room, and the door from the sun room to outside. That was the only smart thing I did, however.

So, the cat starts chasing the squirrel around the room, wife is really screaming now, and as luck would have it, the squirrel jumped up, and ran across the back of the sofa, followed by the cat in hot pursuit. The squirrel made another circuit of the room, and found the open doors, and exited the house. Wife has never thought the episode was funny.

Thus ended my wildlife extraction DIY career.

Broken Man 1999

BTW, you have to be careful in the covering of your chimney, we converted to LP gas logs, so we don't even need to vent. Having the damper closed really keeps the heat in from the gas logs. We had to sign a statement that no real wood would be used before the hardware cloth was installed.
LOLOLOL...very similar to our large rat chasing story in the house. Cat brought one in to play with. Hilarity ensued

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Bones72 » Sun May 12, 2019 12:13 pm

Game recipes? But I'm a redneck, so no problem.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Boglegrappler » Sun May 12, 2019 12:36 pm

We had a similar situation years ago that turned out to be a raccoon maternity ward. Had to call an animal removal specialist, who received up to the ledge to get the "babies". They came out hissing and snarling and looked like they would have inflicted some serious damage on any average joe who would try to remove them.

To decide what you have, you might try rattling the flue a little bit while having someone stationed to watch the chimney top from outside. Sometimes the noise and disturbance will cause the occupant to make an exit, and you can at least identify the species you're dealing with. :)

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Epont » Sun May 12, 2019 12:47 pm

Had a squirrel removed from my chimney once .,
The guy went up on the roof and hung a
1” diameter rope down the chimney. He anchored it to the top rung of the ladder that he climbed up to the roof with. He came into my living room and rattled the closed glass doors on the fireplace and the animal immediately climbed up the rope and ran off the roof into a tree. Simple idea that cost me $50 to learn.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by fposte » Sun May 12, 2019 3:30 pm

2babogle wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:07 am
If it's a small animal of the rodent variety, dropping a rope down the chimney will be enough for them to crawl out. Bats and nesting birds will probably move on after they're finished. I don't recommend making a lane in your house to direct a squirrel to the door. They'll be in your curtains or closet before you know it.
It was a risk I was willing to take; I'm pretty familiar with chasing squirrels out of structures, and it was about a fifteen-foot straight shot to the front door that was well within usual squirrel capacity. I wasn't able to get up to the roof myself, and nobody else was going to make it up there for days. So letting him out the front door worked a treat for me.

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celia
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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by celia » Sun May 12, 2019 4:51 pm

fposte wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 3:30 pm
2babogle wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:07 am
If it's a small animal of the rodent variety, dropping a rope down the chimney will be enough for them to crawl out. Bats and nesting birds will probably move on after they're finished. I don't recommend making a lane in your house to direct a squirrel to the door. They'll be in your curtains or closet before you know it.
It was a risk I was willing to take; I'm pretty familiar with chasing squirrels out of structures, and it was about a fifteen-foot straight shot to the front door that was well within usual squirrel capacity. I wasn't able to get up to the roof myself, and nobody else was going to make it up there for days. So letting him out the front door worked a treat for me.
Thanks for all the stories so far. The rubbing/fluttering noises are quite active today so I'm thinking it could be nesting. Many of you have forgotten we have a two story house, so the chimney is too tall for us to reach the top. We will also need a cap when all is done,so we might as well call someone. Since birds can nest up to a month, I'll let you know what happens.

This brings up another question. If there are birds nesting at the bottom of a two-story chimney, will the babies be able to fly straight up to get out or will the mother carry them out? Or should we let them out (through the fireplace) when we hear little chirps?

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by jebmke » Sun May 12, 2019 5:28 pm

Check at this site to see if Chimney Swifts are observed in your area.

https://ebird.org/explore

That is the most likely bird but could be others. Any bird that nests in the chimney most likely knows how to extract the young. The swifts certainly do.

btw, Chimney Swifts are very good birds to have around. They eat a lot of mosquitoes and other insects. We have a small flock that zooms around the back yard at dusk munching on bugs. I look forward to their arrival every spring. Many people assume swifts are related to swallows (which are also good birds) but they are actually related to hummingbirds.

http://nc.audubon.org/landingbirds/chimney-swift
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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Teague » Sun May 12, 2019 7:10 pm

It never happened to me, but my neighbor had an experience one cold December morning when something lodged halfway down his chimney.

I didn't see the creature myself, and I'm not sure if he ever did get it positively ID'd. He described it as some sort of relatively large mammal. Lots of whitish fur about the face, the body had a red coat, and it had black feet. He thinks it got stuck the night before, as he recalled briefly waking when about 2am out on his lawn there arose such a clatter, in his words.
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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by LadyGeek » Sun May 12, 2019 7:31 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (animal).
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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Elena » Sun May 12, 2019 7:57 pm

celia wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 4:51 pm
fposte wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 3:30 pm
2babogle wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:07 am
If it's a small animal of the rodent variety, dropping a rope down the chimney will be enough for them to crawl out. Bats and nesting birds will probably move on after they're finished. I don't recommend making a lane in your house to direct a squirrel to the door. They'll be in your curtains or closet before you know it.
It was a risk I was willing to take; I'm pretty familiar with chasing squirrels out of structures, and it was about a fifteen-foot straight shot to the front door that was well within usual squirrel capacity. I wasn't able to get up to the roof myself, and nobody else was going to make it up there for days. So letting him out the front door worked a treat for me.
Thanks for all the stories so far. The rubbing/fluttering noises are quite active today so I'm thinking it could be nesting. Many of you have forgotten we have a two story house, so the chimney is too tall for us to reach the top. We will also need a cap when all is done,so we might as well call someone. Since birds can nest up to a month, I'll let you know what happens.

This brings up another question. If there are birds nesting at the bottom of a two-story chimney, will the babies be able to fly straight up to get out or will the mother carry them out? Or should we let them out (through the fireplace) when we hear little chirps?
My parents have a chimney, and every year birds nested, then the babies grew up and flew without trouble. Every once in a while one fell down; sometimes the chimney was closed (metal piece at the bottom), so we opened it, the baby bird fell, I got it, and brought it outside for parents to collect.
Birds normally know where to place the nest. Just watch in case it is "low quality construction" (you know how nowadays builders are, lol), and listen for any desperate baby calls; and if you have a cat or dog, make sure they do not get it. And please, please, do not light any fires. The smoke would kill the entire brood.
My parents got tired of the yearly drama and had some special wire installed. Birds now nest on the barbecue chimney, which leads to the outside. Now we stopped barbecueing so as not to smoke anyone. That is how it is in the household.

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by KandT » Sun May 12, 2019 7:57 pm

Sometimes it is cheapest to hire a pro. A blocked chimney can be life threatening. Don't you get your chimney cleaned anyway?

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by Kiter » Sun May 12, 2019 8:01 pm

Birds ,owls will fly out if you leave the window /door open ,No need to hurt them . :oops:

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by btenny » Sun May 12, 2019 8:04 pm

Back when I did not have a chimney cap or cover. It was a straight pipe above the fire box and flue. A bird got in the chimney and nested. But over time the nest dropped down into the flue along with the bird. He was stuck. We heard him squawking and chirping one night but not after that. We thought he escaped. But when we opened the flue that winter the nest dropped out along with the desiccated bird. So we called a chimney sweep guy who charged us a fee to drop a brush down the pipe and check the chimney. Then he put on a chimney cap and screen like below. No problems since.

https://www.acehardware.com/departments ... gL8hvD_BwE

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Re: Ever Had an Animal Stuck in Chimney? What Did You Do?

Post by shunkman » Sun May 12, 2019 9:40 pm

I found a Wood Duck (deceased) in the chimney of our summer cabin. This is not really that unusual so I installed a chimney cap after that.

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