Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Squirrels Get Evicted!

Alright, I've talked about it before, and I had hoped to deal with this problem sooner, but in the mean time, I've had enough, and I decided to finally DO SOMETHING about it.


Now, I'll be the first to say it: I like squirrels. I think they're cute, and the same goes for chipmunks, and mice, but NOT when they're uninvited guests. For the most part, I assumed they weren't doing much harm, and that since I'd be replacing/rebuilding the fascia boards along the whole roof, it could wait.

That was up until a few weeks ago, when I discovered that I had no power in the "L" Room upstairs. Odd, I thought. I had been in the breaker box for something the previous day, so I assumed I had just hooked the breaker, so I turned it back on. The following day: same problem. No power.

Awwww crap!

I knew the problem instantly. The squirrels had started to chew the wiring.

I thought this might happen, but like I said earlier: I thought I'd have the roof fascia redone this year, but I had lost my job, and had no money until now.

Anyways, I've known about the squirrels' entrance for quite a while. You can spot it between the two windows on the left.

Right here:

The easiest solution would be to just throw a ladder up to there and cap over it with larger pieces of flashing, but as you can see, the porch is in the way, making this impossible. The only way to reach that spot would involve a whole bunch of scaffolding.

The next best option is through the attic.

Because of how the house is built, there's no direct access to the roof edges. Everything is blocked off with tongue and groove boards that run up from the exterior walls of the house to the roof. This is good and bad. Good, because it makes sure that the pests don't have complete free range over the entire attic area, and bad because it makes repairs/access a lot trickier.

If you go back to the first time I found the squirrels (Dec 2011, ugh...) you'll see a line drawing of the attic configuration, as well as the first patch job I had done.

I had thought that my chance to do something this winter had already passed, since we already had a large snow fall, and I had no garage roof access (to get the long ladder inside), but this Friday was nice and mild, and all the snow melted away (which would be all the snow that you see in the first two photos). I decided to tackle the problem today.

I got up early, and got my tools/supplies ready. I had to go and buy some 1/4" chicken wire mesh, but the rest was stuff I had on hand.

While I was on the garage roof, I cleaned off the leaves I never got a chance to clean-off, checked the gutters, and reinforced another possible weak spot in the fascia metal cladding. Then I brought-in the ladder. Please ignore my dusty floors - I'm due for a huge top-to-bottom house cleaning before my Christmas party in 2 weeks.

I started by checking the wires from the "L" Room to see the damage. There are only 2 wire holes feeding 3 outlets for this room. The one in the far corner was the chewed-up one (on the East wall. You can see the cinder block of the building next door). You can see a large portion of fully exposed black (hot) wire, and a small section (maybe just an inch) of the white (neutral). He must have gotten quite a shock.

This wire will need to be replaced, but in the meantime, I patched it with a whole bunch of electrical tape. This is a plug that I don't really use (which means there won't really be any current going through it), so it will be safe as-is for now. I'll need to do some electrical work later on when I re-route the main upstairs lines once the chimney is gone, but I may rewire this sooner than that (as soon as the fascia is repaired).

To prevent further access to the really damaged wire (on the East wall), and the following one (South), I slightly enlarged the second hole (the one feeding the other two plugs on the South wall/front of house), and patched-up the opening in the fascia. Note: These two wires appeared to be free of damage.

Next was the main opening. I took a rough measurement, and estimated that the hole should be here:


The hole was larger than I had originally thought. Part of the reason for this is that a bunch of the old roof boards along the roof edge are totally rotted. I would have thought that when they re-faced the roof top with new plywood that they would have patched the really bad/rotten boards, but apparently not. This made access pretty easy. It also doesn't help that the aluminum fascia cladding was attached to fairly rotten wood, which is why it looks so bad in the first photo. It looks like they went back and added screws when the metal started coming loose.

So more mesh. The two sides are blocked to hopefully completely block access, and the main hole is patched as best as I could, considering there wasn't much to screw into, other than the new plywood decking.

I actually had a surprise visit from one of the squirrels as I was fitting some of these pieces. He scurried away quite quickly.

As you can see in this photo, there are other spots along the roof that are not too great. This is not the fascia, but the old roof deck edge. I'd almost like to do a whole rebuild of the roof, but that would be insanely expensive...

By this point, I had been up in the attic for several hours, and I decided to call it quits. I still need to go back up there and check the rest of the wires for damage, and I also noticed this small hole. Judging by the size, I would guess this was from a mouse. How a mouse got up here, I'll never know.

As if I hadn't already had my fill of rodents, I also found these prints in the garage.

I did a Google search, as based on the size, I'm guessing these are from a cat? The paw prints are only about an inch. I was worried that it might have been a raccoon, but the shape is wrong. I have NO FREAKIN' clue how a cat could have gotten in, though. I know there's a gap along the top of the garage door, and a very narrow gap along the sides, but not enough for a cat. Thoughts?

In the meantime, I noticed some unhappy rodents in the maple tree. Ask me if I feel bad!


  1. That does not look like a cat aw print. Squirrel or raccoon maybe but not a cat. I have three cats so I see a lot of paw prints.

    1. I suppose that a squirrel would make the most sense, but based on all the Google image searches for animal prints, the closest three were: house cat, mink, or weasel. I had thought it was a cat because I only noticed small rounded paw prints, but looking again, I can spot the elongated rear paw prints as well. They still seem much too big for a black squirrel though, but it makes the most sense.

  2. If there is any chance there is a nest of babies in your attic the squirrel will eat through the wood around that wire to get in. It may do that regardless if there are babies or not. Better to trap it and release very far away. If those buggers want in..they'll do it! Good luck!

  3. Also, you should have bx cable up there. Not worth taking a chance.

  4. Would LOVE to read your blog but it is impossible to read the text over the (admittedly beautiful!) background photo of old plaster walls. Please consider changing the background.