How to Keep Rodents out of the Home While Renovating
Renovations are enormous undertakings, which makes it crucial to consider all of the factors involved before you invest the time, money and labor required for such a project. As everyone knows, renovations are costly and intensive. While most people take that into account well in advance of commencing with such an endeavor, the expense and physical exertions are only part of the investment.
The renovation of any home — whether it's a small or large-scale project — also requires plenty of patience. This can't be stressed enough, because a lot of homeowners who've completed these kinds of intensive projects will freely attest they can be delayed by days, weeks and sometimes even months.
However, the most important thing to consider about any possible renovation project is the disarray it will bring to your living space. Depending on the scale and location of your changes, the renovation process could also render your house vulnerable to uninvited guests — namely rodents.
Why a Home Remodel or Renovation Could Attract Rodents
Rodents flock to human dwellings where they seek food, water and shelter. In the eyes of these rodents, humans have vast resources at their disposal, and rats and mice simply exploit our carelessness.
Consequently, rodents have been the bane of human civilization in all of its forms — cities, suburbs, towns, villages and rural areas — for centuries. Once a population of rodents has established itself in a certain area, the next step is to move in on human habitations. They search the perimeter of every building, looking for a way inside to find the things they need. Wherever there’s a gap, crack or hole in a building, you can bet there’s a mouse, rat or other critter exploring it. These openings don't even have to be big, either. Rats can slip through holes the size of nickels, while mice can squeeze through dime-wide holes and slots.
Given all the trouble homeowners go through trying to keep these critters out of seemingly secure homes, imagine how much worse the problem is during a renovation project! After all, rats or mice don't even need cracks, chimneys or air vents to make their entrances if large sections of a house are open and exposed.
How Rodents Get Into Your Home
Rodents can enter a home through just about any opening, and renovation projects leave it particularly vulnerable. Some of the most common entryways include:
- Air ducts on roofs allow rats and mice to enter a home's ventilation system
- Loose eaves give rodents entry into attics and wall cavities
- Chimneys can lead rodents into living rooms and furnace spaces
- Loose window panes provide points of entry into any room
- Passive vents that air out basements and crawl spaces give them access to areas that are hard to reach for most people
While all those access points are accentuated by a renovation project, homeowners sometimes help rats and mice out even more – they leave wood stacks, debris piles, landscaping supplies and yard waste close to the structure near those entry points. These haphazard piles are perfect for rodents to hide in while they wait to get inside. With these issues in mind, make sure these openings are sealed with caulk or wrapped in mesh wire.
How to Keep Rodents Out of Your House
In addition to sealing off holes, slits, and other unintended entryways into your home, it's also important to make the outsides of your house less rodent-friendly, especially if you plan to take out sections of your roof or one of your walls for renovation purposes. Outside rodent attractions include the following:
- Foliage: Rats often find refuge from the weather, predators and people underneath leaf piles so don't allow fallen foliage to accumulate around your property. Rake leaves, bag them and store in secure metal trash cans for routine collection.
- Wood: Piles of sticks and stacks of firewood also provide makeshift shelters for rodents, which then make their way into nearby buildings after nightfall. Therefore, all such piles should be stored at least three feet off the ground and 12 feet away from your house.
- Trees: Rodents have no problem climbing trees, especially those with yummy fruits. When a tree or its branches come too close to a house, rats and mice use them as a ladder to the structure. Therefore, it's best to keep a 12- to 18-foot distance between your house and any trees on the property. Branches should be trimmed to stay six feet from the roof or structure.
- Garbage: Raw garbage is a smorgasbord of goodies in the minds of most rodents. If you're throwing out half-consumed food and unrinsed, empty juice bottles and fruit cans, rats and mice will be drawn by the smell. When left to linger, poorly stored garbage can serve as an invitation for neighborhood rodents. From there, they will be more likely to work their way into your walls, attic and crawl space. For those reasons and more, garbage should always be stored in tight plastic bags and enclosed in secure trash cans for routine collection. Furthermore, in order to avoid rodent problems in garages, never store trash cans there.
Both rats and mice can damage your property. They will soil wood and upholstery, gnaw away at electrical wires, devour and contaminate food and spread germs and diseases. With that in mind, don’t fool yourself into thinking these animals are cute or loveable. They're a nuisance and danger that must be prevented from entering your home at all costs.
How to Keep Rodents Out During a Home Remodel
If rodent activity is discovered in advance of your renovation plans, you'll want to have things under control before you commence. In addition to making your property less inviting to rodents, set up traps around your house. There are various kinds of traps that you can place outdoors that will do the trick, such as the Victor® Tri-Kill™ Mouse Trap, which offers the following features:
- Contains three traps in one
- Kills in a single snap
- Empties dead mice with a push of the lever, with no direct contact needed
You could also use the Victor® Metal Pedal Mouse Traps and Victor® Easy Set® Rat Traps, which are easy to bait and place around the exterior or interior of your house, as well as near any fences. If your traps fill up quickly at first, but then the bait remains unclaimed at location after location, you've likely eradicated the problem and can proceed with a rodent-free renovation.
Precautions to Take When Remodeling to Keep Rodents Out
Knocking down walls and tearing up roofs and ceilings can expose your living quarters to various elements – dust, smoke, wind and precipitation. Neighborhood critters are another hazard, too. Therefore, before you pull out any saws or hammers, it's best to ensure rodents aren’t nearby. In fact, you can actively work to repel them.
Making your yard less rodent-friendly is only part of the battle. You also need a backup plan in case rats or mice are still intent on setting up camp within the hidden spaces inside your house.
One of the most effective DIY rodent control methods doesn’t involve traps, baits or poison. Instead it uses the oscillating ultrasonic sounds that only mice or rats can hear. The most powerful device on the market for this purpose is the Victor® Ultra PestChaser®. This device emits high-frequency sounds that chase rodents away with a piercing, unsettling noise that only they can hear. Though humans can’t hear it, the Ultra PestChaser®:
- Broadcasts at a volume of up to 100db
- Targets frequencies between 32 and 62 kHz
- Offers 80 oscillations per second
The Ultra PestChaser® is equipped with a six-foot cord that plugs into any 110V AC wall outlet. Set one up in your attic and another in your basement for best results.
Preventative Planning for Pests During Renovations
Depending on the type of renovation work you have in mind for your home, the areas vulnerable to rodent entry could vary. So, with each step in the planning process, consider where you may be creating areas of opportunity for rodents and other unwanted critters.
Take, for example, one of the most-recognized features of the trendy 1970s living room -- the conversation pit. This design feature is often evident in many blueprints and layouts from the era, and often came complete with corner sofas and shag carpeting. In recent years, the sunken-area design – minus the shag – has seen an uptick in popularity, with some homeowners choosing to remodel their conventional living areas with this surprisingly cozy feature.
In a lot of today's homes, however, the only thing below the living room is a dank basement or crawl space, both of which can be rodent havens. This rodent-friendly drawback is rarely evident to the homeowners considering adding a conversation pit, though. Consequently, in the process of dismantling and remodeling a living room floor, the entire house is opened to the unwanted little guests hiding underneath it. But with a few preventative measures, the entire problem could have been resolved.
Therefore, to ensure no rodent activity transpires during a renovation, make a plan ahead of time. Consider where you’ve seen evidence of rodents, where new ones may come in and take steps to prevent their entry. Set traps and repellent devices before, during and after the project to protect your entire structure.
DIY Pest Control During Attic Renovations
When a homeowner uses an attic nook simply as storage space for old boxes and furniture, the presence of rodents will often go unnoticed. If your renovation plan is to convert that dusty space into a functional room, you may find yourself surprised by what’s been lurking in the tiny spaces around your attic. Don’t be shocked if you find rodents, bats, birds, bees or any other wildlife that could benefit from a quiet place to nest.
Of course, there are many creative things one can do with an attic conversion, so facing off against those beasts will be worth it. You may be tempted to convert the nook into an extra bedroom. There’s also the opportunity for a reading den, craft room or big-screen viewing area.
Anything you plan to do with your attic, however, will need to be approached with a zero-tolerance policy toward rodents. Take steps to remove any rodents currently nesting there and from moving in once your work is complete. Your best bet may be the Rat Zapper® Ultra Rat Trap by Victor®, which can kill up to 60 rats or mice on a single set of batteries, a perfect trap to use in a space that may see only infrequent visits.
How To Clean & Disinfect A Rodent-Infested Area
Whether fresh or old, the remains and droppings of rats and mice should be treated with caution. In order to clean and disinfect a rodent-infested area, use the following steps:
- Don protective clothing, plastic gloves, goggles and a face mask
- Spray the area with a 10 percent bleach/90 percent water disinfectant
- Wipe over the area with paper towels
- Repeat the process
- Dispense with dirty paper towels in tightly sealed plastic trash bags and place in a secure trash can
- Dispense with dead mice or rats in double Ziploc bags and place in a secure trash can
After you finish the cleanup, disinfect the gloves in the bleach/water solution, wash your hands for five minutes with soap, change your clothes and throw your “grubbies” into the washing machine. Inspect your home regularly to ensure the animals don’t return as you continue to renovate.