Wildlife repairs for your old house

By: Shannon Lee , Contributing Writer
In: Home Improvement Tips, Old House Musings

Your old house might be very appealing, not just to you or your neighbors, but to a few unwelcome guests. Wildlife critters, such as bats, squirrels, raccoons, and the like will be quite attracted to your old house. If you haven't had to deal with them yet, that's just because they are biding their time, waiting for the moment when you least expect them to make their move -- while you are on vacation, perhaps.

What makes an old house so attractive to wildlife? One of the biggest reasons is the age. Old houses mean old wood and more areas of opportunity, such as tiny holes tucked up under the eaves or a crack here or there. That tiny space is all an animal needs to get into your attic or walls and set up camp.

What can you do when you hear the telltale gnawing and rustling noises of a little critter in your house?

Being kind to wildlife in your old house

There are two very important things to remember when you are trying to clear your old house of wildlife. First, you should be humane. Not just because it's the right thing to do, but for more practical reasons -- you don't want to have a dead animal in the walls or attic, where you can't reach it. It's unsanitary, and that's even before you consider the smell left behind by the unfortunate intruder.

The second point to consider is getting the wildlife out of your home quickly, so they can do less damage. Squirrels, raccoons, mice, and the like enjoy gnawing on things, including old wood, insulation, and wires. Many a fire has been started in the attic by a hapless squirrel who gnawed on the wrong wire! You will need to repair whatever damage they have done, and the sooner you get them out, the better.

But keep in mind that sometimes, there is more than meets the eye (or the ear, as it may be). For instance, squirrels that wind up in the attic are often looking for a safe place to nest and raise their young. If you were to get rid of the adult squirrel, you are leaving babies behind, and they will starve to death without their mother. That's not something anyone wants on their conscience!

Therefore, look into wildlife removal companies that promise to be very humane and careful when removing pests from your home. Look for a company that is dedicated to not only removing the animals in a prompt and safe manner, but also to close up the holes where they could get in again.

Repairs after the critters are gone

Once the offending animals are gone, it's time to do some serious work on your old house. Look for holes, crevices and cracks where wildlife could get in. Remember that bats and mice can get through an area smaller than the size of a quarter. You will need to get on a ladder and search carefully with a flashlight -- if you can have a second person in the attic, this helps. They can see the beam from your flashlight when it passes through an opening, and thus can pinpoint the problem for repair.

Once that is done, look into repairing the damage that the wildlife has already done. Look for torn insulation, areas of wood that have been gnawed away, pipes that have been damaged by strong claws, and wiring that has been pulled out of place, gnawed or ripped. Most of these can be fixed by a handy homeowner, but for electrical or plumbing issues, it's best to call a professional contractor to ensure that your home is safe and sound -- even more so than it was when the annoying little critters got inside in the first place!