Rodent infestation is a common issue many of us have to face each year, especially during the cold months. Rodent proofing your home is a necessary step to keep the unwanted pests away. Mice have the potential of harming your health by spreading diseases, triggering asthma, and can be responsible for allergies too. To keep them away from your home, follow these 12 steps to ensure your home is set up to keep mice and rats away.
1. Start with the Doors
The first step in rodent proofing your home is to seal off any access points to your home. This can be a difficult task since mice can squeeze themselves through a space that is only a quarter of an inch wide, or the size of a dime. Rats can even squeeze themselves in a half inch sized opening, or an opening the size of a nickel.
You should repair all cracks or gaps in the foundation of your home, including walls, attics, crawl spaces, and basements. Seal any cracks in your doors or window frames to ensure they won’t make their way into your home.
2. Close off Chimneys and Open Pipes
If you hear any scratching, scurrying, or squeaking coming from your chimney or inside the walls of your house, you likely have mice. There are a few things you can do to make your chimney and pipes less accessible to rodents. To start preventing them from accessing your chimney and pipes, be sure there are not any cracks or holes in the chimney siding, eaves, pipes, roof lines, plumbing stacks, ground level vents, dormer vents, roof vents, fascia boards, and be sure there isn’t any loose siding.
If the holes in your pipes are large enough, they’ll find a way to enter. It is a good idea to get your chimney professionally cleaned and to close the damper in the chimney. Install mesh covered chimney caps to keep the rodents from getting through. It is important to choose the right sized cap for your chimney to ensure you aren’t decreasing air flow, which could lead to a fire.
3. Declutter Your Home
While rodents are clever at making their ways into the cleanest of homes, they also make their way into cluttered homes. They need food and especially water to survive, so it is important to tighten any water leaks in your home. Make sure there are no crumbs laying around, standing water, or even old clothes and newspapers so they do not try to make a nest.
By decluttering your home, you will reduce the chance of having a rodent infestation by 75 percent. To help prevent an infestation, you should store your food and cereal in airtight containers, eliminate any foul smells from your home, and wash any dirty dishes after each meal. If you leave dirty dishes in your sink, it can attract a lot of things you don’t want. Be sure to sweep your floor and wipe down your counters after each meal to keep the crumbs away and take your trash out daily.
4. Get a Cat or Dog
Having a pet, such as a cat or a dog, will help prevent rodents from staying in your home. Cats and dogs naturally will want to hunt them down. Having a cat or a dog will actually help you locate where the mice or rats are hiding as well.
Pay close attention to how your pet is behaving. If they sense one, they will start acting strange and focus on a particular area, which is most likely where they’re hiding. Usually, the smell of an animal will scare them away.
5. Bring Out the Traps
It is essential to place the traps in the best places possible to ensure you trap the pests. You should place the traps in areas with high activity, usually along walls, in darkened corners, behind appliances, and behind any objects where you think they could be hiding. Place the traps at a right angle from the wall and make sure the trigger end is close to touching the wall.
Be sure to use a lot of traps to have a higher success rate. You should have about one inch of space between your traps because mice and rats can jump. This way, if they jump, they will be jumping into the next trap. If you have pets you can use the enclosed mouse traps. The best way to get the mice to be attracted to go near the enclosed traps is to place a small amount of peanut butter, cheese, oatmeal, or chocolate.
6. Check the Roof and Gutters
One of the most common ways for rodents to access your home is through an attic because of a gap between the shingles and the gutter. This gap can be sealed using a drip edge, which is a piece of metal flashing. If you have noticed that mice, squirrels, or birds have been accessing your attic, you should take a look at the roof line. If your roof is shaped like a pyramid, check the entire perimeter. If you have a gabled roof, you probably only need to check the two sides with the gutters.
7. Seal Up Crawl Spaces
Sealing up your crawl spaces is important to prevent rodents from entering your attics or storage areas. A lot of crawl spaces have a high moisture content, which is what attracts them. Putting a plastic barrier between the crawl space and the dirt surface will help keep the moisture levels down. You should seal your crawl space with plastic that is durable and thick to not only keep the moisture out, but to keep them from getting through to the crawl space.
8. Cover Your Garbage Cans
Pest proofing your garbage cans is something most do not think to do. To keep the pests away, you should use a heavy duty trash bag as a lining for your regular trash bags from your household. Normal garbage bags are too easy for them to break into, but if it is inside of a heavy duty bag the rodents will have a hard time breaking in. Be sure the lid is securely closed on your garbage can. You can use something like a bungee cord to ensure the lid will stay on.
Be sure that every time your garbage gets taken out, you clean out the garbage can before filling it up with garbage again. Wipe them down with distilled white vinegar and water, hosing it out when you are finished. Do this every week after you take out your garbage.
9. Fix Cracks in the Wall
Cracks in your home’s foundation are a common way for pests to enter your home. Since your home’s foundation is close to the ground, this area of your home is at risk for an infestation. Be sure to seal any cracks in the foundation with silicone caulk. Doing this is a solid way to keep them from entering your home.
10. Keep the Garage Closed
Rodents love hiding in garages because they are a warm and safe space for them to hide away and make nests inside the wall insulation. Rodents will not only make a home inside your garage walls, but they will chew wires and make a mess out of your garage. Keeping the garage door closed is a start to keep them out and will likely convince them to stay out.
However, you should be sure your garage door has a protective seal at the bottom so there are no spaces or cracks between the door and the floor. The seal at the bottom of the garage door also acts as a weather seal to keep the cold air from making its way through.
11. Store Food in Sealed Containers Only
Keeping food easily accessible in your pantry or cabinets is not the best way to do things when trying to prevent rodents from entering your home. Your food needs to be sealed in an airtight container, to prevent the mice or rats from chewing through and getting into your food. Be sure to label your containers with what is inside them and when they expire. Doing this will help prevent rodents from accessing your food in your kitchen or pantry.
12. Remove Excess Brush from Outside the House
To keep rodents from entering your home, it is important to remove any excess brush from outside your home. This includes keeping your grass short and cutting down any dense shrubbery that rats and mice can hide out in. Trim any trees or shrubs that touch your home and be sure that any grass trimmings or trimmings from the trees are thrown away as soon as possible to ensure rodents aren’t attracted to your yard.
Now that you have a better understanding on how to rodent proof your home, you should be set for the colder months when rodents want to come in.