Are Critters Taking Up Winter Residence in Your House?

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 by Joy Padgett

Winter has taken its first bite on Central Kentucky! With temperatures fluctuating between 50 degrees one day and 28 degrees the next, now is the time when sickness seems to be spreading. I had a cold for 2 weeks during which I also had conjunctivitis in both eyes and laryngitis was the cherry on top! YUCK!

Young woman with a cold 

This caused me to take my can of Lysol and spray every surface in my house in an attempt to kill every germ and micro-organism that might pose a health threat to me and my family! I’m betting I’m not the only one who does this during season when illnesses are prevalent.

This led me to think about how germs get into my house…..we bring them in on our skin, clothing, and shoes. Our pets carry them in from outside. Friends and children are covered with them. But, what about mice? Or squirrels? Or chipmunks? Or raccoons? Or bats?

When cold weather hits, these critters look for shelter anywhere they can find it…..including your crawl space or attic….or both. Yep! Germs are being brought into your home when these animals take refuge in your house. Some animals carry diseases that can be breathed in. Others excrete germs in their feces that are released as the feces dries out and begins to disintegrate. This is cause for alarm as spores can be released into the air of your crawl space or attic and then enter your duct system through gaps and cracks and be transported throughout your entire home!

Squirrel living in crawl space 

Not only can these critters pose potential health hazards, they can also damage insulation, duct work, and structural components such as sub-floors, siding, and roofing.

A friend of mine told me about someone who was having a new roof put on her home. During the removal of the old shingles, a worker discovered a nest of baby raccoons in the attic. The homeowner decided to give the mother raccoon several days to move her babies to another location and was actually able to watch some of the relocations. Once she thought the mother raccoon had gone, the roofers continued their work. Several days after the new roof had been completed, the lady was leaving her home when she noticed pink fuzzy stuff on her front lawn. She looked up only to be horrified by what she saw. The raccoon hadn’t totally vacated her attic and had managed to chew a hole through her roof in order to escape dragging out piece of insulation in the process!

Raccoons and other animals typically use existing holes, gaps, or cracks to enter crawl spaces and attics. However, some of them will chew their way in….or out, as in the story above. They may be desperate to escape winter’s icy grip, find a secure place to have their babies, or may be looking for food.

The main point is this: now is the time of year to be aware of unwelcome inhabitants in your home and have work completed to help prevent invasion, property damage, and minimize potential health risks.

I know I’ve said this before, but we get multiple calls every month from people who have had some critter in the attic or crawl space and now need help in fixing the damage. Sometimes, they haven’t ventured into the area to assess the damage and are shocked when we show them photos of piles of feces and shredded insulation.

No house is critter-proof 

If you haven’t been in you crawl space or attic in a while, you might want to inspect these areas for evidence of critter damage. If you need help, give us a call. We look at attics and crawl spaces all the time. And, if you own an apartment building or small commercial building and think you may have a critter problem, we can look at those types of buildings as well. We have found that critters don’t discriminate. They’ll take up residence in a $50,000 property or a $3 million dollar property. The damage is the same and so are the risks. Oh…and they don’t care how neat and clean YOU are….they’ll take up residence anywhere they can!

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