During the spring and summer, female raccoons often use uncapped chimneys as nesting places because they are dark, quiet, and safe. If you hear a large animal moving around on the roof or sounds coming from the chimney at night, it is likely that a mother raccoon and possibly her babies are living inside the chimney.
The easiest way to find out for sure if there are raccoons in your chimney is to look down it during the day with a strong flashlight. If you can see spider webs across the inside of the chimney, it is unlikely that animals are living in there.
If you are willing to be patient, you can wait for the raccoons to leave the chimney on their own. The mother and her babies should leave after eight to 10 weeks and should not come back.
If you don’t want to wait, or if the noise the raccoons make is bothering you, you can humanely evict them from the chimney. Do not use smoke, naphtha flakes, mothballs, or anything else poured down the chimney to get rid of them. An adult raccoon can easily climb out of a chimney, but babies are not able to do so. The vapors can cause damage to the baby raccoons’ mucous membranes. The mother can become agitated when she tries to escape the vapors.
You can get rid of raccoons without causing them any harm through harassment. Close the chimney damper, tune a radio to a talk station, turn up the volume, and put it in the fireplace. You can use a short pole, broomstick, or board to bang on the bottom of the damper.
Another option is to sprinkle coyote urine or raccoon eviction fluid, which you can buy from a hunting store, farm supply center, or online, on a rag and put it above the damper. If you cannot find a natural repellent, put a bowl with a cup of ammonia on a footstool directly below the damper. You may need to open the damper 1/8 inch. Leave the deterrent there 24 hours a day during mild weather. The raccoons should leave in two or three days. You may hear the female climbing up and down the chimney repeatedly as she removes her babies one at a time.
Look down the chimney with a strong flashlight to make sure all of the raccoons are gone. If any are left, or if harassment didn’t work, call Anderson Wildlife Control to have them humanely removed. After the raccoons are gone, have a professional chimney sweep remove any debris and install a chimney cap to keep other raccoons from moving into your chimney.