How to remove birds nests from your chimney

It’s Spring which means bird nesting season is in full swing. All home and business owners with chimneys should be aware of the annual potential invasion from birds’ looking to take residence. Nests with or without birds living in them can cause various chimney structure problems and are a fire hazard.


Why do birds nest in chimneys?


Jackdaws in a chimneyBirds seek out chimneys to roost in as in their opinion they are an attractive, safe, dry home; essentially a perfect place to raise their young!


Jackdaws and barn swallows are the most common birds to nest in chimneys. Swallows in particular hatch in 15 days and the young continue to use the nest for up to three weeks. Meaning it is important to hire a chimney sweep as soon as you suspect nesting is occurring.


How do you know if a bird is nesting in your chimney?


The first sign that you have a bird in the chimney flue is the presence of a few twigs, or other non-chimney materials dropping down into your fire place. This is the stage in which you should give a chimney sweep a call.


Alternatively, you may notice birds flying back and forth around your chimney pot, or you may hear an excessive amount of tweeting or cooing whilst inside or outside your residence.


How do birds build chimney nests?


Birds will find twigs that are just the right width to lodge in the chimney flue. They will gradually build the twig layers upwards similar to a scaffold until they are around six feet from the top of the

Chimney diagram showing where a cowl should be fitted

chimney; at which point they build the nest. As the nest nears completion it will reach the top of the flue. The bird will then add materials such as horse manure, moss, grass, hair and fur where it plans on laying the eggs. This upper layer often forms a solid dung mass which is hard to break and remove.

You must never try and light a fire whilst there’s a nest in the chimney. This is because you run the risk of smoke entering the room and the twigs igniting – potentially causing a chimney fire. If you have a gas fire, this can be deadly as carbon monoxide could leak into your room and you’ll be none the wiser unless you have a carbon monoxide detector alarm.


What should you do if a bird is actively nesting in your chimney?


Nesting birds are protected by law, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which means removing, destroying or tampering with an active nest would be illegal. The act protects eggs, live young, and mothering birds. Consequently, it is key to not let the situation escalate if you suspect a bird may have its eye on your chimney!

If you realise that a bird is nesting late on in their building process chimney sweeps can still be of service as a point of call for advice. They will remove any nests blockages but may have to wait until the end of the breeding season (July onwards.)


What does the nest removal process entail?

Birds nest removed from chimney

Believe it or not nest removal is an extremely physical and time-consuming job. Removing the nest produces a surprising amount of debris which needs to be bagged up and removed. To remove a birds’ nest a small brush is used to puncture the nest, this loosens the nests materials. Next, larger brushes are used to sweep out the remainder of the debris. Lastly, a fire test is conducted by the chimney sweep to ensure that the sweep has been effective.


How can birds be prevented from nesting in chimneys?


Chimney sweeps can fit a bird guarding cap, cage or cowl over your chimney. In the future this will provide ongoing protection from any birds, insects or animals entering your chimney. It is vital to get the chimney cap fitted immediately after the nest removal process. If you leave it 24 hours, the birds may begin to rebuild the nest. Within a very short period a frantic bird may have layered up enough twigs to block the chimney for a second time.

Plus, birds that nest in your chimney are very likely to return again the next year to nest in the same place. Although, it’s worth noting that bird guards need to be chosen with care. They must be made of stainless steel if they are to have any decent lifespan. These can be painted or covered in powder coating to make them look aesthetically pleasing.

Here at ES Sweeps we have over thirty years of chimney sweeping experience and are able to remove any nests left by our feathered friends promptly and professionally. If you have any queries get in touch now on 07545 976 100

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Installing or reopening a fireplace?

Sufficient room ventilation is a must when installing or considering reopening a fireplace. This is because in order for a fire to properly burn it requires a considerable amount of air. Without this the fire will produce large amounts of Carbon Monoxide which is extremely dangerous. Whilst vents may not be needed in older homes, due to already having sufficient ventilation, modern homes will require this.

Regardless of what fuel your fireplace burns, a vent is required. Fitters will have a range of vents available from simple grills, to more complex ducts. However, it may be a cheaper option to check out your DIY stores first. These vents must not be closable, and the amount of ventilation required must be equal to, or at least 50% of the throat opening to the chimney or flue.

This need not apply if you’re reopening a fireplace, unless extensive building work has been done or the fireplace has been redesigned.  All vents new or old must comply with building regulations, proving the vents cannot be blocked, removed or altered. Installers will fit the vents to minimise this and to help prevent noise coming through and drafts.

Quite often, home owners have found their rooms to be colder since having the vents installed. Where you have your vent installed is an important factor to consider when deciding to have a fireplace installed or reopened. If the vent has been installed at ground level away from the fireplace the cold air will not mix with the warmer air already in the room creating the draft.

The ideal place to have your vent fitted would be on the wall next to the fireplace, this is because the cold air coming in from the vent can go straight up the chimney without cooling the room.


Essex & Suffolk sweeps are based in the South Essex area but cover all surrounding areas from woodbridge in Suffolk right through to Kent areas.

For more information contact us

Get your Chimney Sweep booked in ready for the big day

Have you booked in for a Chimney Sweep?

There is nothing more picturesque than having the family sit around the fire embracing the Christmas spirit. However, what many people forget to do during the build up to Christmas is to get their chimney sweep. Not only is it essential to have your chimney swept ready for the big man to slide down with all your presents, but it is also a safety requirement.

There are many individuals out there that believe they can clean their own chimney. However, this is not recommended by ES Sweeps nor most Fire Safety Institutes. An experienced chimney sweeper will ensure all debris and build up is thoroughly cleaned. They will also check for and remove birds’ nests, as this is a common problem with open fire chimneys.

Our dedicated team will not only clean your chimney, removing the soot and debris, but we will also inspect the infrastructure of your chimney for any hidden damage. A highly beneficial service for those who have had a chimney for several years. Not only does a regular chimney sweep help prevent house fires, it can also save you money in the long run. This is because most chimneys will have some sort of flue liner installed. A flue liner is the first line of defence against house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. However, moisture can get trapped if the flue liner has a large build-up of soot and debris, corroding the liner. By having regular sweeps, you will increase the lifespan of your flue and ensure everyone in your house is safe from house fires and Carbon monoxide poisoning.

Contact Us

If you are looking for a team to come out and inspect and clean your chimney contact us. We work within the Essex and Suffolk area.

A Sweeps finds all sorts in a chimney
Chimney findings

A chimney can be home to some strange findings. From newspapers, to money to ducks. A Chimney sweeper with a few years under their belt will have seen it all. Here we’ve compiled some of the most unusual findings we’ve heard about (and some we’ve experienced ourselves).

  • A letter to Santa from 1912

A man from Dublin Ireland came across a letter to Santa from 1912 whilst he was cleaning out his fireplace. The note was believed to be from Hannah and Alfred Howard. Remarkably, the note to Santa has had very little burn damage despite the fireplace is used on a regular basis. The note included a list of desired toys and a couple of cute illustrations.

  • Newspapers from 1940’s

An experienced Chimney sweeper was cleaning out a lovely customers chimney when he came across some old newspapers. At first glance, he didn’t take much notice, until he noticed the dates. Alike to the letter to Santa, the newspaper over the years had stayed in relatively good condition.

  • Dead cats or shoes

Chimney Sweepers in Australia are never surprised if they come across either a dead cat or a shoe in the chimney they are sweeping. This is because traditionally Australia settlers were superstitious and would often hide one or the other in their Chimneys. This practice is said to have come from Britain from an Ancient Roman practice to ward off evil spirits.

Essex and Suffolk Sweeps

Chimneys should be swept regularly to remove the build-up of soot, creosote and any other unusual items that can be lurking up there.

Smokeless coals: At least once a year

Wood: Once a season when in use

Bitumous coal: Twice a year

Oil: Once a year

Gas: Once a year

Chimney Sweeping Services Essex & Suffolk

The season is cold enough that you’ll be lighting your fires and stoves.

Have you had your chimney swept in the last twelve months?

If not, it’s even more important now as the soot will have built up over the burning season.

Chimneys should be swept regularly to remove the build up of soot, creosote and other debris. This is deposited from the fuel you are burning on your stove or in your fires. It is this build up which could potentially cause a chimney fire. How often your chimney should be swept is dependent on what fuel you are burning.


  • Smokeless coals: At least once a year.
  • Wood: Once a season when in use.
  • Bitumous coal: Twice a year.
  • Oil: Once a year.
  • Gas: Once a year.


The majority of insurance companies require chimneys and flues to be swept as part of the insurance terms and conditions. Many insurance companies will also not pay for a claim where intervals between sweeps have been observed and documented by certification.  Be assured that once your chimney or flue has been swept you should be issued with a Chimney Safety Certificate which is recognised by all leading insurance companies.  As a Guild member sweep you will receive this certificate from Essex & Suffolk Sweeps on completion of works along with a smoke draw test which we perform on all chimneys at no additional charge.

All work undertaken will be carried out by a certified and fully insured member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps.

Contact us for more information on how we can help you!


Chimney Sweeping – Essex and Suffolk Sweeps

Essex and Suffolk Sweep illustrates what your chimney liner will look like if you don’t have your woodburner liner swepted. This one has 5 to 6 years of soot build up coating the inside of the liner

Essex and Suffolk Chimney Sweep

Essex and Suffolk Sweeps show what a chimney liner looks likes when its not be looked after

About Us

Essex and Suffolk Sweeps are based in the South Essex area. However, we but cover all surrounding areas from Woodbridge in Suffolk right through to Kent areas.  We do not contract any work out and all works undertaken will be carried out by a certified and fully insured member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps.

By choosing Essex & Suffolk Sweeps we guarantee you will receive a professional, dependable and friendly service.

Get your sweep booked in ready for a roaring fire this winter

The cold nights are drawing in, for many this is the when the extra blankets come out of hiding and the radiators get put to good use. But what many people forget to do is have their chimney swept.

A fireplace is a great source of warmth during the colder months. Not only can it heat a room at a low cost, it also creates a cute picturesque Christmas atmosphere, ideal for them cosy family nights in. However, what many people don’t realise is the dangers lurking if a fireplace is not properly swept. Over the months, a chimney / fireplace can have a build up of soot, materials which can easily catch fire. Not only does a thorough chimney sweep help protect your family and property, it can also increase the lifespan of your chimney flue, which in the long run will save you money!

Need to get your chimney sweep booked in before the cold weather sets in? Essex & Suffolk Sweeps are based in London and Essex but cover all surrounding areas from Woodbridge in Suffolk right through to Kent.  We do not contract any work out and all works undertaken will be carried out by a certified and fully insured member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps.  By choosing Essex & Suffolk Sweeps you can be sure that you will receive a professional, dependable and friendly service.

Other services we do:

Services Include:

Chimney & flue blockages cleared

Bird nest removal

Pots, Bird guards and cowls fitted

CCTV camera inspection

Certificate, recognised by all leading insurance companies, always issued

Damaged chimney pot/stack replacement

Flue smoke tests

Wood and multi-fuel stove cleaning & repairs

Solid fuel cookers repairs

Burner installation (Hetas Certified)

Chimney sweeping for winter

Chimney sweep – Cambridge 

Today we were over in Cambridgeshire doing a routine annual chimney sweep for a new customer.
For your chimney sweep


David O’donnell

Certified by The Guild Of Mastersweeps

Chimney sweep – Needham Market Suffolk

Chimney Sweep in Needham

Needham Market

Contact us for more information on our services.