How to Remove Vermin from Your Chimney

How to Remove Vermin from Your Chimney
If you’re hearing noises in your chimney, it could be one of a few things. Maybe a wild animal — like a rat or raccoon — is using your chimney as a den. Or perhaps a squirrel or bird has fallen into your chimney and can’t get back out. Regardless of the chimney problem you’re facing, it’s important to approach the situation with caution.

The first thing you should do is listen to the noise in the chimney flue. If the noises sound frantic and are constant, an animal is likely trapped in your chimney. You may hear wings flapping if a bird is trapped, or a lot of scratching at the damper if it’s another animal. In this situation, you can wait it out, call someone for help, or trap the animal yourself.

If the noises are more predictable and you only hear occasional noises, a rodent is likely denning in your chimney. You might hear babies calling out to their mother and notice the noises occur at the same times through the day and night.

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Is There a Rodent in My Chimney?

You may not see rats and mice in your home, but there are many reasons to suspect you’re sharing your residence with them. The point of entry could very well be your chimney.

The following signs are indications of a mouse or rat infestation:

Noises – You may hear scratching, rustling, scurrying and squeaking throughout the house. You’re most likely to hear rats and mice at night because they’re mostly nocturnal. They become active around dusk to begin foraging for food and water. Sometimes they come out during daylight hours, especially if there’s a large enough infestation. When compared to rats, mice are more likely to be active during the day. Natural predators — including owls, hawks, raccoons, skunks, lizards, dogs and cats – will force rodents to seek secure shelters and food. This means your home — by way of your chimney — could be an attractive option.

Droppings– Rodents will defecate everywhere they go, so it’s not surprising to find brown staining or droppings near walls, on wall beams, near nests and inside boxes or containers. Typically, droppings are found in cupboards, drawers, behind kitchen cabinets, and anywhere rodents expect to find food.

Gnawing – Small rodents will chew on insulation, wood, duct work and electrical wiring. They chew to control the growth of their incisor teeth. If you see gnawing nearby, that’s another indication that the damage was caused by small rodents. When it comes to wood, recent gnawing is light colored, the coloring growing darker with age. If you don’t see gnaw marks, you may see fine wood chops or sawdust near door frames, window frames, cabinets or baseboards.

Holes in Food Packaging – If food bags have holes in them, it could be an indication that small rodents tried to open them. They may try to open boxes or bags of pasta, rice and grain. Mice and rats might also tear into dog food or cat food bags. 

Urine Trails– Rodents will urinate everywhere, leaving trails behind. They will also make “urinating pillars” made of dirt, grease and urine.

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Tracks – Where there’s dust, you might see footprints or tail marks. These will indicate the kind of pest you have. Mice have feet measuring 3/8 in or less. Rats have feet measuring 3/4 in to 1 in, and they also drag their tails. Sprinkling flour or talcum powder near suspected access points will help you see footprints.

Nests – Mouse and rat nests are made of fibrous material such as shredded paper, furniture stuffing, quilt batting, grass and twigs. Nests are typically found in sheltered locations. They can be found in fireplaces if there’s enough space for a mouse or a rat to pull debris inside. If you start the fireplace and notice a strange smell, it could be a nest burning in the chimney.

Odor – Rodents typically give off a musky odor. A dead rodent trapped in the home can cause an extremely unpleasant odor that can last for the eight weeks it takes for a small rodent to decompose. Mice are most likely to enter buildings in the fall when there’s a scarcity of seeds and plants. They are skillful climbers and can easily enter the home from the roof or chimney. Mice only need a 1/4 in hole to access the home, squeezing their heads through garage doors, lose siding, roof vents, chimney flues and soffit gaps. Mice can also gnaw into a roof’s overhangs and shingles, entering through openings. Using crevices in chimneys, such as loose bricks or gaps in stucco, mice can enter an attic. They can also enter the home at points where water lines and wires enter the home.

Anxious Pet – Your dog or cat may be more excitable if they see or sniff out a mouse or rat. Your pet may be able to help determine where small rodents are hiding.

Learn more about how to ID your rodent problem here.

How to Remove Rodents from Your Chimney or Vents

If you’re wondering how to get rats out of your fireplace, chimney, or attic, we can help. When addressing a suspected mouse or rat infestation, you should first take a good look at the area. A thorough inspection should provide some indication of how rats and mice may be entering your home, and what parts of the home they’re accessing.

Before attempting to trap and kill them, you must seal the possible entry points. Until you prevent mice and rats from entering your home, more will come. Sealing your home will also make it easier to trap rats or mice since they can’t chew through steel. 

What You Need to Know About Rodent Traps

First, you should use snap traps on frequently used rat or mouse trails. Snap traps are better than poison because poison may only kill some of the small rodents. Plus, it will also leave rats or mice to die in parts of the home that are difficult to access.

Snap traps will attract and catch mice and rats, but some cheap, poorly made mouse traps are not the most effective way to eliminate your problem. The best way is to use professional traps, such as:

  • Multi-catch traps
  • Glue board traps
  • Snap traps
  • Electrical Traps

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Many consider snap traps to be the most effective way to trap and kill small rodents. Electrical traps zap the rodents with an electrical current, killing them immediately. 

Setting Traps in Your House

If rodents have been using your chimney or roof to access your home, the best solution is to set traps in strategic areas such as:

  • Basements
  • Attics
  • Crawl spaces
  • Wall cavities

Should I Set Traps Anywhere Else?

You might also leave traps close to suspected entry points or paths where you may have seen a higher concentration of feces and urine stains. It may also help to load traps in heating vents to target duct-dwelling rodents. Use a string attached to the trap in case the rodent drags the trap deeper into the ventilation system.

Bait the Traps

Rats are attracted to meat and peanut butter. Other fragrant baits for small rodents include bacon, cheese, chocolate and dried fruit.

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Dispose of Dead Rodents

Remember to wear rubber gloves when handling dead rodents. They often carry parasites and diseases that can be very harmful. Be sure to use double bags when disposing of dead rodents. You don’t want to attract other scavengers!

Also, remember to keep children and pets away from traps.

Empty Traps Each Day

Check the traps each day, throwing out all trapped rats and mice and then resetting the traps. If the house is properly sealed, you should catch all of the small rodents within 2-3 days.

Keep setting the traps until you’re sure all of the mice or rats have been caught. If it’s taking much longer, there’s a good chance you’ve overlooked another entry hole, and you should re-inspect the house.

Clean Your House

Once the rodents have been removed, you should clean and deodorize your home, paying close attention to the former rodent entryways. Be sure to vacuum their droppings and replace soiled insulation. You might consider enzyme cleaners and fogging machines.

Prevent Rodents from Entering Your Chimney

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There are a number of ways to keep small rodents from entering your home through the chimney or vents. Examine the following for cracks and holes:

  • Chimney siding
  • Roof vents
  • Ground level vents
  • Dormer vents
  • Loose siding
  • Fascia boards
  • Roof lines
  • Plumbing stacks
  • Eaves
  • Pipes

If holes for cables, pipes or wires are large enough, small rodents will use them to enter. Seal any problem areas with steel mesh. Rats and mice can chew through most other materials.

Other precautions include the following:

Clean Your Chimney – A professional cleaning will help determine if there are gaps or cracks for small rodents to fit into.

Close the Damper– A damper in the chimney is a metal door just above the firebox. When the damper is open, smoke and gas from a lit fire escape up the chimney flue. When closed, the damper prevents drafts and heat loss. It adjusts using a lever or chain to regulate air flow. For a small rodent, a chimney may resemble a hollow tree, which can be an ideal place to build a nest. Without a damper in place, rodents will climb down chimneys into the home. Keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use.

Cap the Chimney – You should install a mesh-covered chimney cap to keep small rodents from entering. Be sure to choose the right cap for your chimney. You don’t want to decrease air flow too much, which can lead to a chimney fire.

Repair Cracks and Crevices – Most rodents enter attics through small holes or through openings like soffit vents or chimney pipes. 

Keep Your Home Clean — Inside and Out – Make your home less inviting to rodents. Eliminate easy food sources and seal food in containers. Don’t leave food out overnight and clean up spills and crumbs. Remove easily accessible food sources outside your home. Keep garbage lids closed, feed pets inside the home and cover compost with a heavy lid. 

About Victor®

A world leader in rodent control, Victor® has been a trusted name since the invention of the Victor® mouse trap over 100 years ago. When it comes to trapping and killing mice and rats, we offer a variety of effective solutions including snap traps, electronic traps, glue traps and ultrasonic repellers.

Victor® also offers the new Victor® Kill-Alert Remote Notification System, which is the first and only product in the market uses wireless technology to notify owners when traps have killed a mouse or rat.

Here are some of our most popular traps:

Snap Traps – Victor® offers snap traps for killing rats, and snap traps for killing mice. We invented these classic mouse and rat traps over a century ago, and they’re still one of the most reliable rodent control methods available.

Electronic Traps– We offer highly effective electronic traps for mice and electronic traps for rats. These traps kill small rodents fast and humanely using a high voltage shock.

Glue Traps – Glue traps offer an easy, inexpensive way to capture small rodents. We offer glue traps for rats and glue traps for mice.

Ultrasonic RepellersHigh-frequency ultrasonic helps keep the rats and mice from entering your home. 

There are additional options when it comes to trapping and killing mice, including scent repellents, hygienic traps, live traps, and rodenticides.

Contact Victor®

If you’re ready to protect your home from disease-carrying mice and rats, browse our inventory today. Victor® strives to offer innovative ways to keep your home and your family safe from the dangers posed by small rodents. Even if you don’t currently have a rat or mouse infestation, our products can help prevent one from occurring. Visit our learning center for helpful tips on rodent proofing your home and for information on the many control options Victor® provides.