The most common place that people will find a colony of bats in their property is in the attic, but during the summer months the chimney also offers an attractive roosting spot for bats. Bats are good at finding small entry points into a roost, and the dark and secure chimney of a property offers many of the features that bats are looking for when finding somewhere to roost.
Resist The Instinct To Start A Fire
One of the first things that many people will do when they find that they have a colony of bats is to light a fire and to open the damper to try and smoke the bats out. The first problem with this approach is that the damper will have to be opened in order to allow the smoke to escape up the chimney, but this also means that the bats will have a route directly into the living space of the property.
Another problem with trying to smoke bats out of the chimney is that bats aren't familiar with the dangers of fire, and while many bats will indeed leave the chimney, others will actually crawl towards the fire. This means that lighting a fire may actually have the opposite to the desired effect, and will attract the bats into the living area. The first step that you will need to do if it hasn't been done at the end of winter is to shut the damper to ensure that no inquisitive bats find their way into the living area of the home.
Examine The Chimney For Entry Points
Whilst the answer to the entry point to a chimney may appear to be obvious, in many cases bats will actually enter the chimney through cracks or holes in the flue rather than going in directly through the top of the chimney. A visual examination of the chimney may give a suggestion as to the entry point, and looking for droppings and urine stains will often be tell-tale signs that a specific point is being used to access the chimney.
Spending an evening or two around dusk watching the chimney around dusk should give you a good idea of how the bats are getting in and out of the chimney, and will help to identify any entry points that need to be sealed.
Before you begin to carry out any work to remove the bats from the chimney, it is worth noting that it is illegal to remove a colony of bats during maternity season, as all of the adult bats in the colony will be females looking after their young. Trying to exclude the bats between May and late August will often lead to the pups being stuck in the chimney without their mothers, and these animals will often start exploring the chimney and may find their way into the living area.
Excluding The Bats From The Chimney
If there are any bat entry points that have been identified, then these will either need to be sealed or have a one-way exclusion device installed. These exclusion devices will allow the bats to exit the chimney, but they will find themselves unable to get back in. For colonies which do use the chimney as the main entry point, exclusion netting will need to be installed to allow the bats to fly out, while not being able to get back into the roost.
It is best to keep an eye on the chimney at around dusk in the days following the installation of these exclusion devices, until you are confident there are no more bats in the chimney. Once all the bats have left the chimney, any cracks or entry points along the shaft of the chimney will need to be repaired to prevent the bats from coming back, and a bird screen or spark arrester can be securely installed over the top of the chimney pot.
Bat Exclusion Professionals
There are a number of problems that people trying to get rid of bats will encounter, and for anyone who is unsure about dealing with bats would be recommended to call a bat removal expert to deal with the problem.
Professionals will have the equipment and the expertise to spot the most likely bat entry points, and will be able to seal them and ensure that the chimney doesn't become a bat colony in the future.
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