The attic is an area of the home that often gets overlooked by homeowners. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality might work for some aspects of homeownership – but when it comes to the attic, this mindset can quickly lead to big (and expensive) problems.
Whether your home features a finished attic space or simply hosts a whole lot of insulation and storage boxes, tending to this area of the home is important and can save you major headaches down the line. In particular, the attic is a common place for pests and critters, namely rodents to enter your home by way of vents and infest throughout different areas of the house.
An attic rid of mice is a critical part of protecting your property from damage and keeping you and your family healthy and comfortable. In this article, we will go over why having a rodent proof attic is important, tell you how to rodent-proof your attic, and discuss whether attic rodent-proofing is a project that should be taken on with or without professional help.
Why Should You Rodent-Proof Your Attic?
Before we discuss how attic rodent control works, you may be curious about why this is an important project to take on in the first place. Rodents such as rats and mice can cause extensive damage and pose a serious threat to human health. Infestations often spread quickly and can turn from bad to worse in weeks or months. Generally, rodent infestations are worse in the colder months, as the animals seek refuge from the frigid temperatures. A rodent infestation poses these major threats to homeowners:
- Damage: Rodents can wreak havoc on your property in a very short amount of time. Their feces, urine, and decaying bodies leave a nasty mess that stains and soils elements of your attic and home such as insulation, baseboards, and framing. Furthermore, rodents are notorious for their constant gnawing – which can leave holes and gouges in nearly any material. In particular, rats and mice tend to destroy existing insulation because it is an ideal material for them to build nests out of, or to nest in directly. Some products advertise themselves as being rodent-proof attic insulation, but the truth is that rodent proof insulation does not exist.
- Fire: As if the damage from rodent waste and activity wasn’t enough, these animals pose an immediate and critical fire danger to your home. It has been estimated that somewhere around 20% of all house fires in the U.S. are started via rodent activity. Rodents are notorious for chewing through electrical wires. This can cause shorts in the circuit and, in some cases, electrical fires. Even if rodents chew your wires and do not cause a fire, tracking down the location of the broken circuit and repairing it can be very costly and time-consuming. Plus, if you still have a rodent infestation, your wires might be chewed again shortly after repairing them.
- Disease: As if the extensive damage to your home and fire danger weren’t enough already, rodents also bring with them many hazards to human health. Rodents are carriers of many diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Some of them can be fatal. Diseases that rodents may carry include hantavirus, leptospirosis, plague, and salmonella – just to name a few. These diseases are not always transmitted through direct contact with rodents – they can also be transmitted through their urine and feces, or through indirect contact with food sources, such as an item in your pantry that has been contaminated.
- Allergies: Rodent activity in the home has been linked to higher rates of allergy in humans. Not only are some people allergic to rodents and their waste, but rodent activity can kick up other allergens in the home such as those from dust or destroyed insulation. Allergies can sometimes be an indicator for homeowners that they have rodents in the attic or around the home.
How Can You Tell if You Have Rodents in Your Attic?
Before you start rodent proofing your home and attic, you will need a good attic cleaning. Rodent droppings, urine stains, and other waste threaten your family’s health and safety.
When you hire a professional team for rodent removal purposes, the first thing they will do is assess your home. An important part of this process is identifying whether you have a current rodent problem. If you do, you will not only need rodent proofing services, but you will also need a rodent removal and rodent clean-up service. Look for the following signs in your attic to determine whether rodents are present:
- Waste: One of the tell-tale signs of critter activity in the attic is the presence of rodent droppings and urine stains. Mice droppings tend to be very small and pointy on the ends, while rat droppings are usually slightly larger with rounded ends. That said, some species vary from this norm. For example, roof rats have pointed droppings. Old droppings are dry and crumbly, while fresh ones are shiny and paste-like in texture. Rodent urine sometimes leaves stains and in the case of a larger infestation, can be smelled quite easily.
- Damage: Rodents chew almost constantly. If you have chewed holes in your attic, rodents are a likely culprit. Additionally, the pests commonly chew up and destroy existing insulation. They do so for the purpose of making nests, so if you find nests made of insulation or other materials from your home, you have a rodent infestation.
- Noise: Sometimes, knowing whether you have rodents in your attic is as simple as being able to hear or even see them. Rodents’ claws make scurrying noises, and their gnawing activity is often audibly heard in areas of the home as well. Even if you can’t hear or see rodents yourself, other members of your home (fur-covered ones, to be precise) might still be able to detect them. If your pets are scratching at the walls or floorboards or acting abnormally, they might be onto something.
How to Keep Rodents Out of Your Attic
The only way to truly eradicate rodents from your home is to keep them out of it altogether. Temporary fixes such as poison and mouse snap traps can be useful in killing rodents that are already in your home, but they will do little to prevent future infestation. Plus, pest control poisons can be extremely dangerous to pets and children, and for this reason, are not recommended for household use.
Professional rodent proofing teams begin by assessing your home to determine whether you have a current infestation. Next, they inspect every inch of your building’s exterior and make note of any gap, hole, crawl space, air duct, or crevice through which rodents may be able to enter. Mice need just 1/4 of an inch of space to gain entry into your home, while rats only need 1/2 of an inch!
Once your home has been assessed, the team will get to work sealing off any potential rodent entry points. The most common sealing tools used are rat proof wire mesh and professional sealant. Sometimes, gaps in doors and windows are large enough that weather stripping or the door itself needs to be replaced.
Common areas of entry are through pipes, cracks in the foundation, chimneys, and gaps between roof awnings and siding. Rodent proofing professionals know how to find the vulnerable areas of your home efficiently and seal them effectively.
Should You Rodent-Proof Your Attic?
These days, homeowners are taking on all sorts of attic projects that used to be considered too difficult or dangerous for ‘DIY’ers’. When it comes to rodent-proofing your attic, it is not a good idea to try and tackle the project on your own. You’ll need the help of an attic cleanup and attic insulation removal service to remove any damaged insulation caused by rodents. Although the benefits of rodent proofing your attic are vast, it is important that this project is undertaken in the most effective manner.
To safely access every possible entry point, you need a lot of tools and equipment. It may seem like a manageable project at first, but once you begin to realize how many 1/4 inch gaps there are in hard-to-reach areas of your home’s exterior, you will begin to regret trying to do this yourself.
In addition to the obvious safety concerns, homeowners are rarely successful in completely sealing off their home from rodents. Not only is it difficult to find rodent entry points, but creating an effective, lasting seal in these areas takes expertise and experience. What’s the point of committing the time, effort, and money to take this project on yourself if you simply find yourself with a new rodent problem a short time later?
What You Can Do to Help Rodent-Proof Your Home
Although it is not advisable to take the entire project on yourself, there are things that homeowners can do to mitigate the chances of rodent infestation and help with pest control in the future like keeping your attic clean. Once a professional team has sealed off your home, they will advise you as to how you can make your home less attractive to rodents.
Some best practices to keep in mind are storing all food and pet food in air-tight containers, upgrading to heavy-duty storage from cardboard boxes, and trimming trees and shrubs that are close to the perimeter of your house.
In these ways, you can bolster the hard work that the professional rodent-proofing team has done and ensure that your home remains pest-free for years to come. For more information on our San Diego and Orange County rodent proofing services, contact our team of professionals at Attic Construction for all your insulation service and rodent proofing needs today!