Recently, I heard a story about a couple that kept seeing bees in their home, and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. This kept happening until they had a chimney tech come out and inspect their chimney, and he found them. There was a hive of bees that had decided the chimney was the perfect place for them. Unfortunately, it took some effort and pest control to get those bees out of their chimney and their house.
I don’t know if they had a cap on the chimney or not, but it really wouldn’t have mattered. This is because caps with wire meshes are designed to keep larger animals like squirrels, bats and birds out. The bees would still have been able to get in and out with ease. However, there is a device called a top sealing damper that you can use to cap a chimney that will work with insects like bees, ants and other crawling or flying bugs. What it does is create an airtight seal over the top opening of the chimney when there is no fire burning. Once you are ready to light your fire you pull a lever and the top opens up fully so the combustion products that need to be expelled up the chimney are released with ease. When the fire has burned out the air tight seal goes back in place.
Most people who use their fireplaces regularly get them inspected and cleaned, and thus are more apt to take care of their chimneys. This prevents many of the long term issues from developing. In older homes, where chimneys may have sat unused and not inspected or cleaned for periods of time, chimneys can be the perfect place for certain animals to naturally inhabit. It is normally a dry and safe place that comes with easy access to the outside world. A chimney that has sat dormant can become a potential fire hazard, so the first order of business is to get these chimneys inspected and cleaned. If called for, make sure you do the necessary repairs as well before ever using the fireplace. It’s one thing to prevent animals from entering your chimney, and a whole other preventing a potential fire and protecting the lives of you and your family.