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Send Those Rodents Packing


As the weather cools, rats and mice will start looking for ways to get into homes.

Keeping these pests out of the home takes diligence. For starters, twice a year, every home needs to be inspected for cracks or openings around the perimeter. Look for holes under and behind shrubbery or any object stored against the building and around pipes or conduits. Rodents have been known to squeeze through holes the size of a nickel.

Seal any holes or cracks on the outside of a house with exterior spackling or stucco patch compound. Pay particularly close attention to foundation and attic vent screens and crawl space access doors. Repair holes in the screen mesh with steel "hardware cloth."

Also keep in mind that rats love to jump from trees onto roofs. Make sure that tree limbs and vines are cut back so nothing touches the roof or eaves.

Check the roof and eaves for cracks or openings (a very common residential entry point is the underside of areas where sloped roof sections join together). Seal open sheet metal roof vents with steel hardware cut to match the width of the opening but 2 inches longer. Place it over the vent opening and fold the excess material over the edges. Secure it with sheet metal screws driven into the walls of the vent.

Look for holes or cracks inside. Open cabinet doors and inspect for holes around pipes. Look in corners and under "toe kick" areas at the front of cabinets for openings. Seal openings with wall patch compound.

Finally, look for spaces under exterior doors and the garage door. Add an appropriate door shoe or weather stripping to the door bottom or sides of doors.


Gary Abrams is a general contractor who has written for The Times for 10 years. Comments and questions can be sent to P.O. Box 711, Thousand Oaks, CA 91319. Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Or e-mail him at

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