How to Repair Squirrel Damage in an Attic and Keep Them Away
LESLIE: Kathy in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KATHY: I have a problem with the squirrels chewing into my roof.
KATHY: And I was wondering, how can I – what can I repair this with and what can I put in there to keep them out?
TOM: Now, where are they chewing? Are they chewing through the trim or the soffits trying to get into the attic space? What’s the story?
KATHY: Well, they have gotten into the attic space.
TOM: The holes. Are you repairing those holes or what are you doing?
KATHY: No. I was calling you to see how you could help me, because I listen to your show all the time and you give such good advice.
TOM: Well, if they get into your attic, you can trap them and release them. You can use something called a Havahart trap. And this is a trap that is a wire cage with a trap door. And the way to bait it is to take an apple and put it in the far end of the cage and wire the apple to the cage; don’t just put it in there. But usually, I’ll take a hanger or a piece of picture-frame wire or something like that and I’ll thread it through the apple and wire it off so that it can’t bounce around.
And if they’re in the attic, they’ll come looking for that food. They’ll get trapped in there. Then you can pick the whole cage up and take it far away from your house and then release them. And believe me, as soon as you lift the door up, they’re like out like a light.
LESLIE: They’re gone.
TOM: They just fly right out there and they’ll take off. They want nothing to do with you, so it’s completely safe.
Now, in terms of those holes, you have to repair them. Now, you can put – if it’s a small hole, you can put steel wool in it or something like that. But if it’s a bigger hole, you really should simply rebuild it or repair it, whatever it takes. So if it’s wood or if it’s vinyl or if it’s metal soffit material, you really just need to completely rebuild that.
And then, the other thing I’ll mention that seems to have been pretty effective over the years and that is if you were to put moth balls down your attic, that does seem to have a deterring effect on the squirrels, as well. So if you spread them …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It will, though – that odor does seep into the house, so don’t go crazy with it.
TOM: Yeah, right. You sprinkle them in there, yeah. Especially along the eaves.
KATHY: Now, is there anything else I can put up there to keep more from coming in?
TOM: Well, we want to identify the holes and get those fixed. It’s really an entry issue. You’ve got to basically close the door on them here. And so, if we can identify those holes and those entry points and seal them up, then you shouldn’t have a problem with squirrels. They don’t naturally live in the attic but they’re obviously finding a way into your house.
If you’re not quite sure where they’re getting in, you obviously can’t get in there – up there – to kind of look that closely, then work from the street level, walking around the outside of the house and looking up. Try to get a pair of binoculars or borrow one and see if you can spot the holes where they’re getting in. But that’s what has to be closed up.
KATHY: OK. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful.
TOM: You’re very welcome.