When Animals Invade the Roof

From on October 23, 2008 in Roofing

Raccoon on the Roof

In some ways your house needs holes in the attic, but when it comes to the pitter-patter of four-legged feet above your head, it’s a different story. Holes in the attic can be caused by a number of things, from wear and tear on the roof over time to the sharp and pesky teeth of greater Rodentia. The first key to plugging holes in the attic is knowing where they are.

Finding the Hole

Unfortunately, the most common way holes in the attic are discovered is only after animals are nesting up there or water comes dripping down into the main floors. Regular inspection of the attic and the roof is good prevention. Also keep tree branches and other access points trimmed back from the roof. There’s no need to make it easy for the invaders.

After the fact, you’ll need to go up there and look for their entry point. Vent screens are a popular place, and an easy fix. Damaged or missing soffit boards are another. Basically, these spots are likely not too difficult to find and are usually the result of materials that are rotting or in disrepair. That’s not to say that squirrels and their cousins won’t chew their way in if they can.

Potential Problems

The problems are self-evident, especially if you’re already hearing the squirrels dance at night. Animals are an obvious problem. They keep you awake, they’ll start a family up there, and they leave quite a mess.

Another problem is the leaky roof, which can lead to a leaky ceiling, which can lead to a major renovation. Again, keeping a good eye on your roof is a good idea. Look for hanging shingles, raised shingles, and sags or weak spots in the roof. To add insult to injury, weak spots caused by water damage are also the best places for animals to chew their way into your attic.

Fixing a Hole

If you have an animal problem in the attic, you’ll want to get rid of them first. You don’t want to seal up a hole before the animal has left. That can lead to horrible smells and a big bill for clean-up. I recommend using a live trap to capture the beast – most likely a squirrel, although opossums and raccoons are not unheard of. For larger animals I would recommend a professional.

Once the animal is gone, it’s time to find and fix the hole. If you’re lucky it is just a damaged vent screen in the roof or at the eaves. You can buy a new screen at any home improvement store. If you find damaged subsiding or other materials that the animal has chewed through, then you have a bit more work to do. If the area is small, you can probably patch the hole with some plywood. Now, if you find some serious water damage, then I recommend a professional assessment of the problem.

If water or an animal has done some damage to the drywall on the attic floor/ceiling, check out CalFinder’s instructions on drywall repair.