Indoor Wildlife Damage Inspection Process

Is the damage located in your chimney or fireplace or is it elsewhere?

Somewhere else!

  1. Go outside and look for droppings on the roof/sides of building. Keep an eye out for nests, holes, broken vents, etc.
  2. Click the link for more information on the droppings you found:

No Droppings Found

Did you find any of the following?


birdnestYou have birds. While other species make nests, rarely would they be visible from the outside of your building. For more info click Birds.

Try to determine the species by clicking Bird ID and/or contact a professional.


brokenventDo the hole (or holes) actually enter the building?


Go back to the Inspection page and try again.

Chimney Inspections

Chimneys are death traps for most animals; notable exceptions are raccoons and chimney swifts. If noise stops, it usually means the animal has died.

The starling shown here was rescued from a woodstove. It flew through an uncapped chimney into the woodstove, where it was captured with a pillowcase. The woodstove had no fire or live coals in it at the time.

Step 1. Look carefully at Diagram 1 to understand how a typical chimney works. Although not all chimneys are exactly like this, it is a good model to begin with. You will find most animals behind the damper. Don’t open the damper!

Diagram 1. Typical chimney.

Diagram 1. Typical chimney.

Step 2. Do you hear noises coming from the chimney or fireplace?

  • Young raccoons sound like birds chirping.
  • Chimney swifts make grinding noises.
  • Squirrels scratch or have a chrrrr sound.

Many different species of animals can become trapped in a chimney, including ducks, owls, and crows.

The arrow points to a cap that is broken. To the right is an uncapped flu.

Step 3. Is the chimney capped? If so, is the cap broken?

In the photo, the arrow points to a chimney cap that is broken. To the right of it is an uncapped flue.
Sometimes the cap rusts out. This is why we recommend stainless steel caps manufactured by professionals.

Step 4. Inspect the corners of the house and along tree branches for signs of raccoons. Often, you will see smudges where their feet gained tracking for the climb.

Smudges on walls may indicate raccoon traffic.

Smudges on walls may indicate raccoon traffic.

Photo of a raccoon in a chimney is courtesy of Alan Merrifield.

Photo of a raccoon in a chimney is courtesy of Alan Merrifield.

Step 5. If possible to do so safely, look down the chimney. You may see the cause of the noise. Removal of  an animal from a chimney may require the help of a professional. To prevent future chimney incidents, see Chimney Cap.