Inspecting Homes For Mice- Where To Look
The easiest place for a mouse to enter a home is along the foundation walls. Foundation walls in the Cleveland area are constructed of clay block, cement block, and stone. Foundation walls can consist of a brick outer wall with structural block behind it. Foundation block is connected with joints of mortar. It is common to have mortar deteriorate overtime. If the breaks in the mortar are deep enough, and larger than 1/4″, mice can enter through these points.
When a lot of older homes were built in NE Ohio, they utilized terra cotta foundation block. This is actually very unique. Our region is one of the only areas in the US to have used this type of foundation block. If you ever dropped a clay flower pot, you know that they break easily. A crack in these hollow blocks can create a rodent runway through your walls. The picture displays an example of a broken clay block.
Entry Doors and Garage Doors
These are biggies, especially for homes with attached garages. If your garage door doesn’t seal right, you are bound to get mice inside. Rodents will chew through the rubber weatherstrips on the sides and bottom of the door. Check in the corners of your garage door for gnawed out holes. It might be that the ground isn’t level under the door too. As a result you will have to repair the garage apron. That’s a big project to level concrete like that.
Additionally there are people who leave their garage door open all of the time. We run into this situation fairly often. Keep your garage door closed, especially at night. If it is impractical to seal the garage, then we recommend always keeping mouse traps set in the garage.
Entry doors are also common entry points. Sometimes there is a gap under the door. In that case you need to get a weatherstrip installed. Yet when mice get in through the door, it is usually from gaps around the door frame. Lakewood has a lot of side doors coming off the basement stairs. If you have a door like this, then be sure to check on the sides of the door frame. Also check underneath the threshold for gaps.
Around Steps, Under Porches and Decks
Nearly every mouse proofing job performed has entry points in these areas. A lot of the time there are gaps in the foundation block underneath porches and decks. No one ever goes under their porch. Over time, this neglected area can deteriorate. Mice and rats love coming and going in low traffic areas under porches and decks. If you have a porch with a solid brick base, make sure it is sealed completely, and the weep holes are properly screened.
A ledger board is used to attach a porch or deck to a home. This strip of dimensional lumber is bolted horizontally across the home. Inspect this, and any structural supports connected to the home. A popular mouse entry point is where the middle support beam for the front porch attaches to the home.
People with poured concrete steps have rodent problems when the steps settle away from the home. This leaves a gap for rodents to squeeze behind and find a vulnerable point of entry in the actual foundation. Properly repairing gaps behind prefabricated concrete steps can be an difficult. since the steps need to be pulled away from the home for access. This type of issue is shown in the picture.
Make sure you maintain your front stoop. Keep up on the tuck pointing, and repair mortar joints as necessary. Stoops are like a rodent magnet. Chipmunks, mice and rats always try to inhabit these areas.
Under The Bottom Row Of Siding
There are 3 main types of siding: Wood, vinyl, and aluminum. Each one has its own vulnerabilities. You will want to stick your fingers behind the bottom row of siding and run them along the entire perimeter of the home. The bottom row of siding should sit flush against some form of backing. There are a number of materials that may be used behind siding. These materials may have fallen out in spots, or there may be gaps between pieces from when it was installed. A strong flashlight helps locate entry points in the crevice between the siding and foundation.
On the outside corners of vinyl siding, there are corner tubes. These hollow tubes give rodents a vertical runway up the house. From there they enter the soffit and attic space. Chipmunks have a fondness for these corner tubes too. You want to screen them, but you still want them to breathe and permeate moisture. We install Kritter caps. Its a great investment if you have vinyl siding and mice in the attic.
Yes, mice can climb vertical up a textured wall surface, like brick. They can also climb up gutters. If you have a brick home, or a home with a stone facade, look up for entry points. Do you see how the fascia board separates from the wall in the picture? Where ever stone or brick walls meet the roof line, is where mice can potentially get into the attic. This is very common in Westlake, OH homes. They climb up and roll around in the fluffy blown-in insulation.
Consider mice entering through attic ventilation. Powered attic fans are the most common culprits. They are almost never screened properly. The screens on gable vents deteriorate over time allowing bat, bird and rodent entry. Critters love gable vents with deteriorated screens! Be sure to check soffit vents and ridge vents if you have a mouse infestation in the attic.
Crawlspaces And Additions
Crawlspaces can complicate rodent control significantly. There are some homes in the Cleveland area that have a crawlspace under the entire home. In most instances, they are part of an addition. Check weep holes and foundation vents for proper screening. Older vents have screens that dry rot over time. Mice compromise these vents and get inside, as shown in the picture.
Also inspect the junction; where the addition attaches to the original portion of the home. Due to freezing and thawing, this junction often becomes vulnerable to rodent entry. This is probably the second most important place that mice get into Cleveland, OH homes. Be sure to look underneath the siding too. Kitchen additions, often have cinder block foundations. If you stick your hand up there, you may find a big gap on top of the wall- under the siding.
The # 1 overlooked area where mice enter structures is where air conditioning conduit enters the home. The putty that is placed around the conduit deteriorates over time, leaving a perfect runway into your home. Use foam and a sealant to properly seal these areas. As shown in this picture, caulk was used to seal the gap. Mice can chew through caulk. Notice the gnawed hole leading into the basement.
In addition, check out other areas where utilities enter the home. For example around the water spicket. Dryer vents can have significant gaps around the vent cover. Especially if it is installed through vinyl siding.
Cable lines are a place to check around too. Often the cable guy tucks the cable under siding. Due to this, the bottom row of siding can pop off the track. The siding just flaps around and mice squeak into your walls from there.