Today I want to spend a little time on what to do if you get unwanted guests in the attic of your home such as rats. First off, how can you tell if you have a rodent problem in the attic? The biggest thing people tell me is that they hear scratching sounds in the attic at night. You will sometimes see droppings and in extreme cases there is a definitive smell that comes with a rodent infested attic.
Rule number one; do not try and deal with this problem on your own. I have had many people over the years say I threw poison up in the attic and now I am getting the most awful smell throughout my house. Well, what happened was when they threw the poison up there the rodents consumed it and went down a wall and died. When it comes to a rodent dead in a wall, unless you want to start opening up every wall in the house to find the offender, not much can be done except wait for it to go away (decompose).
How did the rats get in my attic, is often the next question I get. To be clear, the rodents only need a hole about the size of a quarter, and that’s all the access they need. They are also mostly blind so they do everything by touch and smell. Once one gets in it leaves a pheromone trail that his friends can follow like a big yellow brick road. Many times they gain access from the roof or a soffit vent and more often than not I find some form of vegetation touching the house. One of the preventative things you can do to prevent rats from getting in the attic is to make sure all your landscaping and palm trees are not touching the roof line of your home. This is especially important to attend to if you live near a lake or canal.
Rodents can very quickly do thousands of dollars in damage to your attic if left unchecked. If you have any boxes stored in the attic they will chew those up to make a nest. They will go after the ductwork for the moisture, and I’m not sure why, but they really love to nibble on electrical wires presenting a fire hazard. The worst one I think I ever saw is where they chewed about a half-inch hole in an air conditioning drain line so they had constant running water. In that attic not only was the entire duct system destroyed, but there was water damage and all the insulation needed to be removed and replaced.
Moving on to the health risks, you remember the pheromone trail I mentioned earlier? That is achieved through the process of urination. The rodent urine then dries and the crystals become air born. If you have even the smallest of holes in the ductwork, or any of the connections are failing, those crystals get pulled into the air stream and into the home. I’m no doctor, however, from what I understand there is a nasty little respaitory infection called Hanta-virus that one can acquire from breathing air contaminated with crystallized rodent urine. How‘s that for a visual?
As always my friends, if you suspect you have a rodent issue in the attic we are ready to restore your attic to a clean, rodent free space. In the usual tradition of leaving you with a random thought, do you think that people in the military named William really hate the expression fire at will?
House Whisperer Out!
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