Autumn home maintenance: Keeping critters out of your home

Posted by Jeffrey Anderson ~ November 5, 2013

As temperatures begin to cool, you're probably starting to dig out sweaters and schedule a check-up for your home's heating system. Once you're warm and snug, you can relax knowing there's nothing like a toasty shelter when it's freezing outside and forecasters are predicting a winter storm. But guess what? You're not alone in that sentiment. There are some critters in your neighborhood that would like nothing better than to share your house this winter.

Tips for autumn critter prevention

Whether your home is way out in the country or where grass is considered a rare commodity, critters will be looking for a way inside, and they can make a mess in your house and could even be carrying a disease. Here are just a few of the critters that would love a warm place to spend the winter:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Squirrels
  • Spiders
  • Bugs

If you live a rural area, raccoons or opossums might even be a problem. So what's the answer? Well, you may want to add these critter prevention items to your fall home maintenance list:

  • Sealing - Supposedly a mouse can squeeze through an opening as small as a dime, and everyone knows that bugs may find holes that no one else can see. Invest in a caulk gun and a few tubes of silicone caulk to seal up any holes or cracks you find on your home's exterior. Closing them all off is best but if you don't have a ladder, at least get those within a few feet of the ground.
  • Vents - Dryer, bath, and hood fan vents should all have flaps to prevent unwelcome guests from entering your home. Ensure the flaps are there and that they close completely. If any are missing, a piece of wire mesh may provide a temporary fix.
  • Flues - Squirrels often think that a fireplace or woodstove flue is the ideal spot for building a nest. Not only can the critters gain access to your home when the damper or woodstove door is open, their nests can become fire hazards when hot ash is going up the flue. All flues and chimneys should have a cap installed that prevents animals and birds from entering. If your home is missing a cap or has one that's broken, climbing up there yourself is probably not a good idea. Hire a contractor to do the new installation.

Forest and backyard critters are fun to watch in their natural habitat, but perhaps not so much in your kitchen. Add these items to your fall home maintenance list and enjoy the winter secure in the knowledge that all the critters and pests are outside where they belong.

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