Prevent critters from encroaching on your home

Recently, my wife and I had a battle of the ages with what turned out to be a family of squirrels.

We live a little outside of Oklahoma City on a wooded lot, so seeing squirrels is pretty common year-round. It was quite easy for them to jump from the nearest tree onto our roof. We hadn’t really considered why this could be a problem!

Once it got cold this season, we noticed a scratching sound coming from our attic. We heard it a few times over the course of a couple days and decided to investigate. A cursory search around the property revealed a soffit screen had been clawed or chewed through.

If you aren’t sure what a soffit screen is, that’s pretty normal. A soffit, on most homes, is the wood that bridges the gaps between your roof’s edge and the wood or siding of your home. Most will have screens installed by the builder, which helps circulate air and lets your attic breathe.

It was clear our home had been invaded by some manner of critter. The hole in the soffit screen wasn’t too big, so we were hopeful that it wasn’t a raccoon or opossum. After asking around and doing some light internet research, we decided to call a service company out to our home to have them look at the problem.

We happily paid the company’s service fee and their technician confirmed we did, in fact, have some squirrels in our attic. For a nominal fee they removed the vermin from our attic. We declined the preventive methods they suggested, though, and decided to tackle them ourselves. In addition to some of the things we tried, we read about a few other preventive tactics that are worth sharing.

Changing out the soffit screens

The soffit screens we had weren’t very durable and were easily compromised. For a few hours’ worth of work and a couple hundred dollars, we were able to replace our cheap screens with a heavy metal screen with louvers.

Trimming your trees

At our home, we had areas where the tree limbs were unnecessarily close to the house. We ended up handling this ourselves, but if you’re uncomfortable doing so, it’s a good idea to hire a tree-trimming company.

Seal any gaps around the home

Mice can squeeze through an opening as small as a quarter of an inch. Other critters can also get inside through surprisingly small spaces! Caulk around your windows and check into any loose trim boards around your home. Investigate your siding to see if any of it is loose or warped. We ended up putting some copper mesh in the weep holes of our brickwork near the foundation to block critters but allow for airflow.

Check your vents

Just like with your windows, you’ll want to make sure the vents in your roof are fully sealed around the base. To find holes, try turning off your attic lights during the day and looking for any daylight. If you aren’t comfortable making the repairs, a reputable roofing company can help you seal up vents.

Secure your trash cans

In our case we were lucky we just had squirrels to deal with! There are certainly raccoons in our neighborhood, and we’ve heard they can be quite destructive. Our trash cans are large, and the lids are heavy. We still keep some heavy rocks on top of them, just in case the raccoons get any ideas.

Kill the grub worms in your yard

Grub worms tend to attract the very kind of critters you want to keep away from your property. Skunks, moles, raccoons, and groundhogs all feed on grub worms. In addition to helping keep the critters away, you also won’t have as many June bugs to deal with when it warms up! If you want some tips on how to do this, check out this article.

If you’re concerned about critters getting into your home, these preventive measures can give you peace of mind. Adding these to your regular home maintenance will hopefully mean that you won’t have to share our experience of uninvited guests.

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