Stopping Squirrels: A Guide on How to Prevent Unwanted Wildlife from Entering Your Home This Winter
With just over half of December gone we’ve begun to see a lot of new squirrel activity begin to pop up. With the weather being unseasonably warm it seems the majority of squirrel intrusions into homes haven’t yet begun. Squirrels will typically spend the late fall and early winter storing food for the colder months. Often times attics, walls and other vulnerable areas of homes and structures will be prime targets for their winter shelter. With temperatures still in in the high fifties and lower sixties you now have another chance to follow these steps in order to see if your home is a target to be invaded by squirrels this winter.
First things first, take a step outside and look at your chimney. Does it have a stainless steel chimney cap and are all the flues (openings at the top) properly covered? We often find chimney cap only cover fireplace flues and not furnace flues. Wildlife can enter any flues left open. We have removed raccoons, squirrels, bats and various birds from owls to ducks to even hawks. Often times we will respond to an emergency call from people who have returned home to a squirrel that has destroyed various areas around the fireplace. Squirrels will either fall in or enter thinking that the flue is a possible burrow to stock up and seek refuge for the winter which results in them falling through. Once at the bottom they can become stuck and will rip up or gnaw windowsills and the bottoms of doors in an attempt to escape. They will also knock over various items throughout the room as well as defecate on furniture. In addition to stopping wild animals these caps can also prevent rain water, wind and debris from going down flues and causing internal blockage. So proper chimney caps are imperative and our stainless caps come with a lifetime warranty.
Second, take a look at your gutters. Some folks have already cleaned out the leaves and sticks from The Fall but anything left over or missed can cause a blockage during rain or snow during the winter that can cause water build up which can ultimately damage the facia board that gutters are attached to. This is one of the prime areas we find that squirrels will use to enter the attic as the wood become soft and rotted which is easier for them to chew through. Good gutter guards or a proper cleaning schedule are two way to prevent debris from accumulation which can lead to further and costlier repairs down the line.
Third, check your vents. Most houses will have gabled vents towards the roof. They come in various shapes and forms from wood to metal and even plastic. Most all have an insect screen to keep bugs out, however these do not stop wildlife! A proper vent cover installed by a wildlife control operator will properly stop any intrusive and destructive wildlife. We install custom fitted covers on site on the exterior side of the vent. We often find where someone has had a squirrel issue and as a solution they have installed a cover on the inside. This is not an effective solution as often times birds, bats and squirrels can still access the actual vent and attempt to chew through the louvers themselves. The only proper way is to have it installed from the outside.
Next take a look at your rooflines, specifically where the soffit meets the walls and sides of your house. This is often a place where wood seems to deteriorate which can make it easier for squirrels to gain access through. Take note of the condition of the wood. If you see bubbling or peeling its usually an indication of moisture build up behind it which will most often mean rotting or softening wood. Using a flashlight and a pair of binoculars can help greatly as these areas are often hard to see without using a ladder.
Similarly to rooflines, one should check any dormer windows (windows that come off the roof line). These window’s soffits are susceptible to water and ice build up throughout the year which will accelerate decay. Again unless you have a tall ladder binoculars will help to determine their condition.
Often times squirrels or other wildlife will use trees or other large plants to climb up and gain access to the roof. From there they can find any vulnerable areas and gnaw through them. A simple fix to this is to trim back and maintain these plants and trees so that they are not growing against or on top the sides and roof of your hime.
Lastly check any bathroom vents that you may have. These are often found on the sides of your house outside areas where your bathrooms are. These vents are often times left open or their flaps are damaged/stuck open. This is a very access point for birds and occasionally squirrels.
If some of these tasks seem challenging to you or you have any questions make sure to seek a professional. We here at Intrepid Wildlife Services are open 24/7 for emergencies. We offer site inspections, trapping and removal as well as animal proofing homes.