How Squirrels Cause House Fires

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January 20, 2016
Categories: Squirrel Removal

Squirrels cause thousands of house fires each year. Although not all of them can be traced directly to squirrels and squirrels are merely suspected, in many cases the evidence is there. If you have squirrels living in your attic or near your home, you could be at risk of a house fire. Let our Maryland squirrel removal professionals explain exactly how this happens.

squirrel on a post

Squirrels Chewing on Wiring

One of the most common causes of house fires that result from squirrel activity is damaged wiring. Squirrels don’t have anything against wiring specifically, but they like to chew on things in general. Their ever-growing front teeth need to be ground down constantly in order to maintain a manageable length.

A squirrel that has a nest in your attic will be spending a lot of time there, and therefore will be chewing on whatever it can find. As we clean up squirrel damage, we often find bite marks on rafters, wood, plastic, air ducts, and wiring too! Sometimes we also find dead squirrels that got electrocuted as they bit on a live wire.

Here is a video showing damage to wiring squirrels can cause in the attic (beware that it contains an image of a dead squirrel).

Overheating Issues

If a squirrel builds a nest in a tight space next to an electrical appliance or inside a vent, it will pack its nesting material tight and may cause overheating. An overheated appliance may fail and sometimes may cause a fire. In a recent case, squirrels have built a nest inside a ceiling vent of an upstairs bathroom. Their nesting material caught fire due to the overheated appliance. Thankfully, the fire department responded quickly and the damage was minimal.

Squirrels Compromising Outdoor Wires

Even if squirrels are not inside your home, they may still cause trouble. In one case last May, a squirrel ran along a power line and touched the pole, becoming the path to ground and creating an electrical arc. This chain reaction caused the power line to detach from the pole and drop on the telephone line, from where the current reached the water heater inside the house and started a fire.

Although this is not a scenario that is likely to repeat often, squirrels climbing on power lines can be dangerous. They also often make their way inside transformers, where they can cause significant damage to the wiring and leave an entire neighborhood without power.

If you see squirrels running on your roof or hear them scratching inside your attic, don’t delay calling a Maryland squirrel removal professional. You could be a few chewed wires away from a house fire!

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