During winter, wild animals will often go to great lengths to seek shelter. As the winds pick up and temperatures drop, animals like skunks, raccoons, squirrels, mice, bats and other creatures go looking for warmth and safety. In most cases, these animals can end up in basements, attics and in the chimney. They can also decide to make their winter home under your deck or porch. If you are looking for ways to keep wildlife out of your home this winter, there are tips that can help. Apart from learning prevention tips, you will also find out how to get rid of unwanted visitors that have already taken up residence.
• Find the hidden entrances
One thing you need to know is that wildlife will often find spaces or entry points that may seem too small. Do not ignore holes, gaps and other spaces in the foundation that you consider to be too tiny. Look for all vulnerable spots in your home including entry points located high up on the building. Document all the spots as you plan for repairs and you can do this by taking photos. Look around pipes and cables for any openings. Check to see if the fascia boards or the trim is deteriorating. Inspect the attic vents for tears or holes in the screening and make sure that your chimney is capped. Remember that a mouse can gain entry through a hole that is less than half an inch!
• Look for signs of invasion
You need to find out if you have animals already resident in your home. If you suspect that an animal has taken up residence in your home, you need to be very careful how you proceed. You have to ensure that you do not end up trapping the animal inside your home. A trapped animal can cause havoc in your home as it attempts to get out. Whether it is a mother trying to get to its babies or the babies trying to get out, the animals can end up causing serious damage. If squirrels and other animals are not able to claw or chew their way out, they may end up dying and you have the decomposing odor to deal with.
• Keeping the animals out
After confirming that you do not have animals already in residence, you need to do what you can to keep them out. The first thing you should do is to seal all entry points and to do this you have to use the right materials. If you have an opening that is smaller than one or two inches, you can use caulking or copper mesh and expandable foam to plug it. Use materials that will prevent entry of the animals that can chew different materials. Metal mesh material will keep the animals out while ensuring that you make the space weather-tight. If you have a larger opening, use the original building materials, hardware cloth or metal flashing to repair the hole.
• Hiring a builder
Some repairs are easy to deal with but for some situations, you need to hire a professional. If you need to cap the chimney, it is usually best to hire a professional builder. Make sure that the person performing the task inspects the space first to make sure there are no animals hiding in the chimney. Using a flashlight, the builder can inspect the flue from the top to the bottom. It is important to use a sturdy good quality cap and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It might be necessary to hire a professional to work on the porch or deck too. In some cases, it may be wiser to leave burrowing animals that are under the deck or porch until after winter.
• Hiring an animal control company
Sometimes, even after hiring a builder, he might inform you that there is no way he can evacuate existing wildlife found in nooks in your house. This is because he lacks the skills to do so. In such a situation, you should always count on a professional animal control company to help you remove the wildlife before letting the builder continue his work.
• Keep up with repairs
When you seal areas that animals use to access your property, you should make sure that you keep up with repairs. Periodically inspecting your home will help to ensure that the animals do not come back. You have to remember that the animals do not give up easily especially if they think they have found the perfect home. Performing your spring and fall cleanup should include looking for any signs of animal and pest intrusion. The inspection will not only help to keep animals out, it will also make the home weather-tight and keep your repair bill low.
Securing your home for winter will give you much needed peace of mind. The animals can know from the beginning that they need to look elsewhere for winter shelter. Remember also that besides winter, as the mating season approaches, the expectant animals may be looking at your home as a place where they can raise their young. The animals look for safe, warm and dry spaces and your home may be offering just that!