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Creepy Crawlies in the Crawl Space

Aug 21, 2013 10:03AM ● By tina

Animals Can Damage Your Home

Sponsored by Berkeys Air Conditioning and Plumbing 

Animals and insects in your crawl space and attic can cause extensive damage to the structure of your home. Some animals carry diseases, which can cause major infections, some animals will bite if cornered, and others will bite or sting to defend their nests. All of them can be dangerous, and animal bites hurt. To remove your unwanted houseguests safely, know your enemy!

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Squirrels, for example, will chew through almost anything to get into your attic or crawl space. The holes they cause can lead to leaks, structural damage and mold growth, which can be costly to repair. Mold and mildew can cause serious health issues. Squirrels only need a 1-½ inch gap to access your attic. Once inside, they chew on almost everything (insulation, holiday decorations, old clothes from the 1970s) to make a nest. They might even chew through wiring, even inside your air conditioning unit. Damage like that could cause a fire that destroys your entire home.

Raccoons, possums and hedgehogs are also looking at your home as a good place to line, although they need a larger access space than squirrels. Raccoons are incredibly curious. Like a litter of puppies left unsupervised, they leave a path of destruction in their wake, tearing apart air ducts and shred insulation to see what they can find (particularly shiny things). And in the process, repair costs and utility bills increase by the minute.

To rid your home of squirrels and similar types of pests, you can use humane traps. Just remember to check them often and release the furry creatures outdoors far, far away from your neighborhood. Baiting the traps with peanut butter usually works well. You can also try a one-way exclusion door that allows them to leave your home but not to re-enter. Once your guests have been relocated, plug any holes (even the tiniest gaps) that might invite them or others to return. 

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Unlike larger animals, mice and rats require a different tactic. Mice think any warm, dry place is a convenient location for a nest. Rats, on the other hand, are not happy in the wild. They are social rodents and like to live near humans. They really like our trash. Rats will crawl through holes so small you wouldn’t think it was possible for them to get through. They can squeeze through an opening as small as ½ inch, while mice can squeeze through a ¼-inch hole. Rodents will nest anywhere, but the attic is a favorite as they prefer to tunnel through clutter and insulation. To get rid of rats and mice, seal off every possible entry point, then set mice or rattraps. Both animals reproduce very quickly, so relocating them probably won’t work. Keep using the traps until you are sure there are no rodents are left. Using poison is too dangerous, and having dead (and decaying) rodents in your house is not pleasant.

Bats, usually found in the attic, can squeeze through openings as small as ½ an inch. They usually enter your home through gaps near the edge of the roofline. You know you have bats if you see them flying in and out of holes at your roofline or by the uniquely pungent odor of their droppings. To remove bats from your belfry, seal all points of entry and use one-way exclusion doors.

Like furry freeloaders, snakes can also climb into attics and crawl spaces through small holes. They are usually attracted by a food source. Removing any tempting morsels (like mice) will usually send them on their way, but don’t try to remove them yourself — it’s recommended to have a professional exterminator remove snakes from your home.

Our most abundant intruders are insects, which come in all shapes and sizes and target our homes in many ways. In Texas, termites are our biggest problem because our climate is perfect for them. Their favorite woody foods are available in every neighborhood. To find them, look for the powdery wood residue that is left behind wherever they feed. They will weaken the entire structure of the house given the chance. Do not try and get rid of them yourself; it is next to impossible without specialized chemicals and equipment. Call in the experts — a professional exterminator will have to place tests around your home to monitor for future invasions.

Cockroaches can enter a home through seemingly impossible gaps and drains. They love dark, hidden spaces because they can breed undisturbed there. The best way to get rid of them is to use anti-cockroach spray wherever they might be nesting or anywhere you see them around your home. You can also use “bug bombs,” but follow the directions carefully. Repeat the treatment until they are vanquished. Call in professional exterminators if the spray isn’t working.

Flying insects, like bees and wasps, find our homes to be great places to live. In winter, our homes keep their hives or nests warm and toasty. They find a tiny crack in our exterior walls and start construction. Over time, their hives/nests might grow quite large in eves, overhangs and walls. The insects themselves could find cracks in light fixtures or vents to enter our living space. If you know you have honeybees, you can call a professional beekeeper that will relocate the hive. For other insects, you might have to call a professional exterminator if sprays aren’t working or the hive/nest is large or inaccessible. Removing these nests could require extensive repairs. 

You don’t have to share your house. The most humane way to cope with pests is to prevent them from entering in the first place. Inspect the outside of your home, and repair holes and the tiniest of cracks regularly. Look for damage to roof flashing, behind gutters, foundation cracks and tears in vent screens. Once the animals or insects have entered your home, they must be removed properly. If you prefer to have the problem handled by a professional exterminator, look for animal control experts or exterminators that service your area.

However you solve your assault by nature, you will have to make repairs. Having holes and damaged air ducts can severely impact your energy efficiency and your budget. Make sure you inspect your home thoroughly for damage. Examine your wiring in the attic, crawl spaces, air conditioning units, air ducts and insulation as well as the building structure itself. Some repairs might require a professional contractor, electrician or other certified repairperson, such as a certified HVAC technician.

About Berkeys

Berkeys is an award winning home service company, providing quality plumbing, air conditioning, and heating services to homeowners in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex for over 35 years.

All of our technicians, are background-checked, drug tested and have passed rigorous state examinations and are licensed by the State of Texas; they understand the complexity of state codes all the way down to local requirements.

Berkeys maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has led the field in area newspapers’ readers’ favorite polls.  For questions and scheduling information visit Berkeys Air Conditioning & Plumbing, or give us a call 24/7 at 817-481-5869.