A customer called us the other day to take care of a rodent problem. She saw a mouse run across her kitchen floor and when she finished freaking out, she decided to call our pest control company to take care of the problem for her. As is our routine, we went down to check the crawl space. What we found was both alarming and unhealthy. This home had a massive rodent population that had severely contaminated this poor lady’s home without her even knowing about it.
Why a mouse in the house is kind of a big deal
Nobody ever has just a mouse in the house. Usually, if you see one rodent, there are dozens that you are not seeing. Since your crawl space provides a perfect environment of warmth and safety for rodents, they generally congregate and reproduce in this area. Things can get out of control rather quickly with female mice pumping out over 70 babies a year! In a relatively short period of time, the urine and feces begin to add up and create an unhealthy space.
What needs to be done?
When a crawl space has significant damage to the insulation, vapor barrier and/or air ducts, it might be time to have a crawl space restoration. Whether you need a crawl space restoration can be a matter of debate because each home is going to have a different level of contamination. The point at which a restoration is needed is a bit blurry, but keep in mind that you are breathing about 40% of the air down there, so you can come to your own conclusions.
A restoration job usually includes removing all of the contaminated materials (insulation, vapor barrier, etc) and then doing a thorough decontamination of the space by using ULV foggers. Once the contamination has been neutralized, new materials can replace the old contaminated ones. All of this may seem simple because it can be explained in a few sentences, but it is grueling, dirty work. The cost of a restoration can be between $1000 and $5000, so it is not something that you should take lightly.
How you can avoid needing a crawl space restoration
Although mice and rats are usually the cause for contaminated crawl spaces, anything living in your crawl space is trouble. If you are unlucky enough to have a raccoon find its way under your home, you can expect it to completely destroy everything down there. It is actually easier than you think to avoid these costly problems, though. If you can just follow two really simple steps, you will greatly reduce the chance of needing a crawl space restoration:
1) Make sure you do not have entry points
One of the only ways that a rodent or other animal can make it under your house is if you have a foundation vent screen out. This is especially true for raccoon’s and other wildlife. A rodent may tunnel underneath your foundation, but a vent screen is the only access for most everything else. If you have a broken vent screen and are making it easy for something to get into your crawl space, you almost certainly will have a problem. Do a quick walk around your house and make sure you don’t have any entry points.
2) Make sure you are not providing a food source
People sometimes make the horrible mistake of feeding unwanted animals. Sometimes this is intentional and other times it is accidental. For example, our customer that called us about the rodents loved birds and had several bird feeders in her yard. Unfortunately, these bird feeders are also rat and mice feeders. If you are willing to take the risk because of your love for birds, go right ahead, but if you want to be sure about it, get rid of them.