Hurricane Harvey has come and gone, leaving substantial destruction, copious flooding, and stunned survivors in its wake. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Houston and other affected areas during this time, especially as evacuees head back to survey the damage done to their homes and property. Chimney and Wildlife Specialists’ expertise lies in chimney repair and animal control, so here’s our best advice for those trying to rebuild:
Have Your Chimney Inspected
While chimneys are usually strong enough to withstand the elements, they’re not indestructible. The fierce winds, heavy rain, and flying debris associated with hurricanes can cause both surface and structural damage to chimneys, and the full extent of the mess can be difficult to discern with an untrained eye or without special equipment.
If you have any reason to suspect that your chimney was damaged in the hurricane, you should have it professionally inspected. Damage to mortar joints between masonry and chimney, cracked or weakened liners, caps, crowns, and/or brickwork are common issues. Roof damage can also expose or loosen flashing, as well. A technician will be able to give your chimney (and, by extension, your fireplace) a thorough exam and tell you if anything is amiss. And if it is, then they’ll know the best way to fix the problem before it becomes any worse.
Have Wildlife Removed
Hurricanes often send wild animals scrambling for shelter or patrolling previously inaccessible areas, and it’s not uncommon for them to find their way inside of human homes. Many folks feel compassion and sympathy for displaced critters, but this phenomenon can lead to some uncomfortable or downright scary situations—just ask the folks in Houston who have found alligators in their houses!
After the dust settles from a natural disaster, it’s always a good idea to check your home for any furry, feathery, or scaly “squatters” who may have shown up while you and your family were focusing on staying safe. Peek into your attic, garage, and crawlspaces for signs of intruders, as these are common hiding places for pest animals. Listen (or look) for activity markers in your chimney, too, especially if the chimney lacks a cap. And if you happen to find any unauthorized guests in your home, call an expert to have them removed ASAP! Please don’t feel guilty for sending these invaders packing: many wildlife removal services utilize humane, non-fatal methods to trap animals, and the critters being returned to their natural habitat really is the best (and safest) option for everyone involved.
Don’t Trust Fly-by-Night Companies
In a perfect world, only people who were qualified, experienced, and had their clients’ best interests at heart would offer home repair, chimney inspection, and/or wildlife removal services in hurricane-ravaged areas. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and there are unscrupulous folks out there who are more than happy to use natural disasters as a way to make a quick buck.
Always do your research before you hire a company to look at your chimney or remove a wild animal from your home. Stick with well-established, licensed and insured groups that have been in business for years; don’t just sign a contract with the first sales rep who knocks on your door and offers you a special rate or claims to already be “doing a job for your neighbors down the street.” If a company does not have an official website, positive client reviews, and a willingness to provide proof of insurance and certifications, then it’s entirely possible that they’re up to no good. They’ll either do extremely shoddy work, charge an exorbitant amount for their services, or just take your money and run. Stay vigilant!
The road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey will be a long one, but we Texans are a resilient bunch. Nothing keeps us down for very long! Still, try to be kind to yourself in light of current events. If it’s at all possible to do so, reclaiming your home and belongings from nature’s fury can be one of the first steps to regaining some sense of normality. And as always, Chimney & Wildlife Specialists is happy to help in any that way we can.