Santa Claus isn’t the only one sliding down the chimney at our house. In the last year a squirrel and a pigeon have tried to join us inside by coming down the chimney. That might work for Santa, but for these poor critters the closed damper became their pearly gate. Their unfortunate end made an unsavory task for me when, for example, a squirrel carcass fell into the lit firebox while we were entertaining first-time visitors to our house. There’s no better way to impress friends and family than to pull a dead-stiff, soot-covered squirrel from the fireplace as they gape in horror.
To prevent future uninvited animal guests from chimney diving and to get the flue ready for a winter’s worth of fires, I called in Copperfield Chimney Sweeps. They cleaned out the flue and installed two 8? X 12? flue screens on the top of the chimney.
Victor from Copperfield was very professional and talked me through the pros and cons of the screens. On the recommendation of a friend in Michigan, I had considered having a pop-up damper installed on the top of the chimney. Victor’s advice was that as long as the firebox damper is working (mine is) the fireplace would perform better with an open-topped screen. These particular screens are a heavy gauge 5/8? wire held in place with friction fittings at the corners. They appear more substantial than similar products I have seen in stores and around the neighborhood. It is important to have a screen on both the fireplace and furnace flues, too. At least with the fireplace it was easy to detect and remove the “debris” that got down the chimney– that’s a lot trickier with the furnace.
Victor also had some nice words about my progress stripping the fireplace brick (”looks like new!”) and some advice about the fireplace doors I removed for that project (”they’re all wrong– get a nice screen from Restoration Hardware.”) which I appreciated. He also suggested a dillution of Simple Green cleaner applied with a brush to clean up the firebox, and he even left me the last of his bottle of cleaner to do the job. I’ll give that a try and report on the results.
Sometimes all of us need to call in the professionals and this was a great call to make. It’s nice to know I can stop worrying about my toasty family room fire becoming a varmint funeral pyre.