What’s in Your Chimney this Holiday Season?
Children around the world are beginning to think about Santa Claus and how he will fit down their chimney or otherwise get into their home to leave gifts. The real Santa has never been known to get stuck in a chimney, but many strange things have.
It’s not that easy to get animals out. For one thing, you don’t want to risk coming into contact with the animal, whether it is a raccoon, a squirrel, or whatever else, because they can carry diseases. But animals usually need help getting out, since flue linings don’t make it easy or even possible for most animals to climb back out of the chimney.
Get the help of a professional or lower a thick rope down the chimney and attach it at the top, which will give the critter an opportunity to climb out.
Of course, if the damper and chimney are both open, the animals can scamper into your home. One experience with an animal in the chimney is usually enough to motivate a homeowner to get a chimney cap with the protective wire mesh installed at the top opening of the chimney.
Shoes and Dead Cats
Long ago in Australia, there was a strong superstition which led many settlers to hide either a shoe or a dead cat in their chimneys. The strange practice, it’s suspected, came from Britain to Australia but originated as a Roman practice which was believed to ward off evil spirits. There has been no recorded evidence that this strange practice made its way to the U.S.
If you ever smell something horrible coming from your chimney, call a professional chimney sweep. While you may assume it’s a dead animal you smell, there have been more than a few occasions when it was discovered that a dead body was in someone’s chimney. In one well-known case which had its beginning in 1984, a National Guard serviceman was supposed to appear in court about a stolen vehicle and never showed up. No one knew what really happened until 27 years later.
A bank began renovations of an area which had only been used for storage and discovered the remains of the serviceman inside the bank’s chimney! The man had no signs of apparent trauma and so the death was ruled an accident.
Santa has served as an inspiration for a lot more people than wide-eyed children. Thieves have occasionally mimicked St. Nick by sliding down the chimney in attempts at robbery. A teenager in Atlanta, Georgia, found himself stuck in a chimney for over ten hours before finally screaming for help. A neighbor heard him and called the police, who promptly arrested the young man.
A man in Dublin, Ireland found an authentic 100-year-old letter to Santa which sat on a shelf inside the fireplace and was in amazingly good condition, with only a small amount of burn damage. The list of toys and treats complete with some illustrations were the request of two children who closed their letter to Santa Claus by wishing him good luck.
Have you had your annual chimney inspection? You never know what will be found in your chimney.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110