Squirrels can be a lot of fun to watch as they scamper through the yard gathering nuts and raiding bird feeders, but they aren't fun when the scamper inside. When they enter your home, they can do more than make annoying noises in the wall or attic. They can chew through your electrical wiring, shorting out lines and posing a danger of fire. If you suspect you have squirrels in your attic and are worried about your electrical wiring, you will need to locate and rid your attic of squirrels before cleaning up their mess and take measures to protect your wiring from future critters. Here's what you need to do.
Locate and Identify Squirrel Damage
Check the Attic: If you've heard the pitter patter of little feet scurrying across the floor in your attic, there is a good chance that squirrels have found their way inside. To check for signs of squirrels, look for torn insulation, or piles of torn paper, fabric or other soft materials in your attic. If you have boxes with clothing or other soft materials stored in the attic, check in them too. Squirrels shred paper, insulation and fabric to create a soft lining for their nest. You may also notice squirrel droppings. These look like mouse droppings but are considerably bigger. According to Attic Pest Authority, squirrel droppings are red or brown and typically about 5/8-inch long.
Inspect Your Wiring: Examine all exposed wiring for chew marks or for bare spots where squirrels have chewed the coating off the wires. If you discover chewed or damaged wires, don't try to repair them yourself. Call your local electrician to make the necessary repairs. He can also inspect wiring in areas that you cannot see and has the skills and experience to safely repair any damage squirrels have caused to your wiring.
Banish the Squirrels
Before you can get rid of squirrels, you will need to locate and block their point of entrance. Here's how.
Look for Entrance Holes: Squirrels typically enter the attic from holes or cracks in the eaves of the house. According to The Mercury News, a squirrel can fit through a hole that is 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Small red squirrels can fit through holes that are even smaller. Consider any hole in the eaves or around attic windows suspect and prepare to seal them once you get the squirrels out of the attic.
Install a Squirrel Door: Unless an army of squirrels have set up residence in your attic, you can probably get rid of them yourself by installing a squirrel door at their point of entrance. The door is typically nailed or screwed in place over the entrance hole on the outside of the house. The door has a flap that allows squirrels to exit the attic, but it closes so that they cannot re-enter. When the squirrels leave the attic during the day to hunt for food, they will find themselves blocked out of your attic.
Clean Up The Mess
Feces and urine left behind by squirrels are smelly, but that isn't the biggest concern. The excrement can contain pathogens that pose a threat to your health. Cleaning and sanitizing the area is important.
- Use a dust mask, gloves and protective clothing.
- Wet down the area with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. This will prevent dust from becoming airborne as you clean and will kill germs.
- Wipe the area clean with a soft cloth or paper towels. Sweeping or vacuuming at this point will release particles into the air.
- Wet the area down again with the bleach and water solution and let it dry.
- Sweep or vacuum the area to remove any remaining traces of soiled material.
Protect Your Electrical Wires
If you are worried that squirrels will find their way back into your attic, protect your exposed wires with PVC piping. Slit the piping and slip it over the exposed wires. When squirrels try to access the wires, the piping will rotate, making it difficult for them to get to the wiring. Your electrician can also cover the wires with steel or hard plastic casings that squirrels cannot chew.
Getting rid of squirrels in the attic is important to protecting your house's electrical wiring and keeping your family safe and healthy. For further information on protecting your electrical wiring from squirrels, talk to your local electrician, such as those at McDonald Electric.