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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck


Dear Ellen,

There are bats living above the ceiling of our lake house, and I am worried that their droppings and urine will ruin our acoustical ceiling tiles. We've seen bats flying up out of the chimney at dusk. How can I get rid of the bats before the ceiling falls in? Also, how do I avoid setting bats on fire when the weather gets colder and we build a fire in the fireplace?

Jenny, Island Lake, Minnesota

Dear Jenny,

Bats above the ceiling may be the least of your worries, Jenny! Bats are indeed, attracted to chimneys. It is fairly common for bats to enter at the top of a chimney and enter the living space of a house via a fireplace or woodstove. The fact that bats are apparently entering the top of your chimney and exiting the chimney somewhere above your ceiling is quite worrisome, and makes me suspect that there is a crack in your chimney. A crack must be at least 1/4 inch wide in order to allow bats to squeeze through, but flames can lick through much smaller cracks. DO NOT START A FIRE IN YOUR FIREPLACE UNTIL YOU HAVE HAD YOUR CHIMNEY INSPECTED AND REPAIRED! You are very lucky that bats drew your attention to your dangerously damaged chimney before your house burned down!

After your chimney has been repaired, have a metal chimney cap with 1/4 inch screen installed. A chimney cap will keep birds, rodents, and bats out of your chimney.

Environmentally yours,



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