Why Raccoon Removal From Your Chimney & Fireplace Is An Essential Summer Project

Jun 5, 2024

Santa Claus may have the space cornered around the holiday season, but in spring and summer—your chimney or fireplace may be occupied by an unwelcome houseguest: the American Raccoon. Should you take on eviction duties or leave it to the experts?

Summer's here and for most families, it's time to dust off those gloves and get started on yard work and the home improvement projects that have been gathering dust all winter (and spring!) Before you head outdoors to tackle the weeds and beetles, you might want to check your chimney and fireplace for a much larger invader: your neighborhood raccoon.

Nuisance animal experts believe that we must understand raccoon behavior to remove them safely and permanently - and here’s why your chimney should be the first place you look.

Why Raccoons Love Chimneys

Raccoons are intelligent, dextrous creatures and masters at adapting to urban and suburban environments. They’re nocturnal and tend to avoid humans, so it’s unlikely you’ll see one unless you know where to look.

Tree hollows are a raccoon’s natural nesting site. In an urban environment, what mimics a tree hollow better than a chimney? Both spaces are dark, warm, have narrow entryways, and isolate the mother and her kits from predators. Most residential chimneys remain unused through spring and summer, coinciding with the mating season in late spring and the six weeks it takes for the kits to develop.

If you spot raccoon scat (you can tell by its tubular shape) in the fireplace, see nesting materials near the chimney flue, or hear scratching noises from the fireplace, you likely have them as houseguests.

How To Remove a Raccoon From Your Chimney

DIY Methods

Repellents May Work For Adults

If you’re able to identify that the raccoons occupying your chimney are adults, you might be able to evict them using homemade or commercial repellents such as coyote urine, vinegar, pepper-based repellents, or ammonia. A bowl of liquid repellent in your fireplace should do the trick. If the odor from a bowl is too strong, soak some rags in the repellent and place it on the smoke shelf.

Bright Lights, Loud Noises

You don’t need to bang pots and pans all night or shine torches into your chimney to scare away raccoons. Ultrasonic predator repellent devices and animal control strobe lights are widely available but their long-term effectiveness is yet to be evaluated or demonstrated.

Even if you use these devices, you don’t want to install them in a way that encourages raccoons to exit through the fireplace - and into your house.

Chimney Caps

Raccoons frequently relocate their young during the denning season which can last all summer, so don’t be surprised if they leave - and return - after a few weeks. If you find your chimney free of raccoons, remember to install a chimney cap strong enough to withstand a determined animal.

Professional Raccoon Removal 

Raccoons are persistent and females who have established a nest in your chimney or attic are unlikely to be deterred by DIY methods.

Raccoon removal from narrow chimneys can be dangerous, and a cornered animal may attack. Raccoons can carry rabies and canine distemper, which makes them dangerous to you and your pets, so you don’t want to be in a closed space with a defensive animal.

Even if you manage to evict the adults, the kits may be too young to climb - that’s when you need professionals who specialize in humane raccoon removal and relocation. Experienced nuisance animal control professionals will know how to capture and relocate raccoon families while complying with local and state wildlife regulations.

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