If you are thinking about selling your home then keep in mind that the inspector will always inspect the crawlspace and the attic and will call out any rodent activity that they find. It is best to find this beforehand and make sure that everything is dealt with prior to listing the home, if possible.
The first step to inspecting your crawlspace is to go into it. Now keep in mind a few factors to consider prior to going into your crawlspace. First, if you suspect there might be rodents or wildlife in the crawlspace consider taking extra precaution to ensure you aren’t harmed when entering the crawlspace. Most animals will be frightened by your presence, but if they are cornered or if they have babies they might become more aggressive. Be aware of this, be cautious, and consider hiring a professional if you feel uncomfortable at all.
Signs Of Rodents
Once you’ve entered the crawlspace you should look around for signs of rodents and wildlife, and also signs of water damage, mold etc. Rodent activity will generally consist of droppings throughout the crawlspace, especially along runways that are repeatedly used, urine marks, paw prints on the vapor barrier/on pipes, rub marks, chewing marks, and nesting/tunneling in the insulation or under the vapor barrier. If you locate any of these then it is a good indication that you previously or currently have rodent activity in the crawlspace. Other obvious indicators would be hearing noises or seeing actual rodents (dead or alive) in the crawlspace.
If the activity is fresh then you need to make sure you eliminate it as quickly as possible. Rodents have a gestation period of 3-4 weeks meaning they can reproduce at an alarming rate. If you wait a month to get the problem taken care of then you will likely regret it. We recommend using snap traps to clear out rodent infestations inside of crawlspaces. Poisons can cause potential harm to non-target animals, and rodents can die in unhelpful places causing an odor (which is the last thing you need when putting your home on the market).
If the activity is from other wildlife like cats, raccoons, or possums then the best way to deal with it is to either live-catch the animal or install a one-way door at the entry point (and seal up all other entries in the crawlspace) so the animals can leave and can’t get back in. Once the adult animals leave inspect the crawlspace to ensure there aren’t any babies. If you find a nest with babies then you can carefully remove them (taking necessary safety precautions like thick gloves, a tyvek suit if needed, etc) and place them outside the home for the mother to retrieve. Seal up entry point once the animals have been removed.
Rodent Trapping & Exclusion
If you decide to set traps for rodents you will need to ensure that you locate and seal up all of the entry points in the crawlspace. To do this inspect your vent screens, particularly around any pipes or wires that enter into the crawlspace. The most common place where vents are broken are around the A/C unit. Seal up these points by installing new 1/4 inch steel mesh. Check around the exterior for burrows along the foundation and also for gaps underneath the siding that could lead into the crawlspace. Fill in burrows with gravel or cement and seal any other holes with sheet metal or 1/4 steel mesh.
The last step in this process is to clean up the crawlspace area. Often the easiest way to sanitize everything is to remove the old vapor barrier and install new. You should also vacuum up any loose droppings on pillars, pipes, etc. Lastly, spray down all hard surfaces with an enzymatic cleaner to remove urine. If insulation is damaged then remove it and install new insulation as needed. Plumbing and wiring work might need to be done at the same time if they have been damaged.
If you have any further questions about this or if you would like help with crawlspace work, rodent trapping, or wildlife removal please call or text us at 503-985-6523.