Dead Animal in Chimney: What Homeowners Need to Know

You wake up in the morning to a horrible smell coming from your fireplace. There’s no question something has died in your chimney. But how did the critter get in there?

Dead Animal in Chimney: What Homeowners Need to Know

How do you dispose of a dead animal? And, most of all, how do you get rid of the “dead animal in chimney” smell? First, let’s take a look at how they get there in the first place.

How Animals Get in Chimneys

It’s not uncommon for smaller animals to end up in your chimney. Squirrels, raccoons and mice are always looking for cool, dark places to nest or to hide, and chimneys serve the purpose well. The problem arises when they then can’t get out. Newer chimneys are lined with metal boxes, not the brick liners in older homes. The metal doesn’t give the opportunity for the animal to get a toe-hold, meaning once they’re down there, they’re stuck, without access to food or water. The result? The bad smell coming from the chimney, flies around either opening of the fireplace or chimney, or even unusual fluids.

How to Remove the Dead Animal

No one wants to leave a dead animal in a fireplace chimney. Aside from the smell, the decomposition process can bring more unwanted pests into your home, exposing you and your family to potential disease and illness.

There are two ways to access the animal in your chimney if you want to do it yourself. If the body is near the bottom of the chimney, the easiest way is to open the damper all the way and, using a flashlight, look in the area above the firebox. If the body is closer to the top, you’ll need to get on the roof and, using a chimney rod and hook, you can grab the body from the top.

Be sure to wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and regular shoes to protect yourself from any insects or bodily fluids you might encounter.

Unfortunately, if the body is caught between the flue and the surrounding brick, you may not be able to access it; in this case, you will need to hire a professional to handle it for you.

How to Dispose of a Dead Animal

It’s important that you dispose of any dead animal promptly and properly. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to dispose of the animal yourself. Check with your local animal control office to see what to do with the carcass, once you have it.

In the meantime, be sure the carcass is wrapped in a manner that contains the bodily fluids. Throw away any towels or paper used to mop up the fluids as you removed the carcass from the chimney to keep your family safe from any disease or illness that may have developed from the decaying body.

How to Get Rid of that Dead Animal Smell

To remove blood and other bodily fluids, and the odors they bring, again, make sure you use gloves and dispose of any materials used in the mop-up immediately, ensuring no one else has access to the biohazard.

There are several products on the market that will get rid of both the smell and the stains left behind when you remove a dead animal from your chimney, but you may not have to go further than your pantry or refrigerator. Here are some tried-and-true methods of cleaning up without having to buy additional products:

  • Cornstarch. Cornstarch will absorb both the bodily fluids and the smell left behind. Pour cornstarch directly over the stains and let sit for 15 minutes. Mop up and repeat several times until the stain and the smell start to disappear.
  • Cola. Yes, your favorite drink can actually work to remove both the stain and the smell. Soak the stain with cola and watch the bubbles melt the stain away.
  • WD-40. The spray that removes the squeak from your door hinges will also lift out any stain you might have as the result of having an animal die in your chimney. Just spray WD-40 over the stain, enough to soak it, wait 15 minutes, then mop it up.

Once the stain is mopped up, the smell may remain. To deal with the smell, try the method used by some after a Hurricane. When people were evacuated from their homes ahead of the hurricane, they left behind food in their refrigerators. The electricity was off for weeks before homeowners were able to return to start the clean-up process, resulting in rotting food contaminating refrigerators. Instead of throwing the refrigerators away, smart homeowners used regular newspaper to get rid of the smell. They filled their refrigerators with crumbled newspaper and switched it out every 15 minutes. Within an hour, all the smell was gone and the refrigerators were good as new.

For smell in your chimney or fireplace, follow the same process. Crumble newspaper and stuff it into the chimney. Remove and replace it every 15 minutes until the smell goes away – it usually takes an hour. Dispose of the discarded newspaper properly, so no one can reach it.

Call Capitol Chimney

There’s no question having an animal die in your chimney is both heartbreaking and a mess. Dealing with it yourself is often the first option, but if you’d rather not clean it up yourself, remember the professionals at Capitol Chimney are experienced at cleaning up these types of messes quickly and neatly, without you having to worry about it.

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Walter Clarke

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