Check Your Fireplace for Wildlife Before Starting a Fire

Check Your Fireplace for Wildlife Before Starting a Fire

The summer is coming to an end and nights are already starting to get chilly. It’s not long until we cuddle up in oversized throws, grab a cup of hot chocolate and open the fireplace season. But before you start your first fire, we urge you to check your chimney for wildlife, especially if you have a traditional wood-burning fireplace and an uncapped chimney. As a Maryland wildlife removal company, we know for a fact that unused chimneys are one of the favorite nesting spots for a few types of critters. Just recently, we responded to a call from a local Maryland customer who had a raccoon mother and 4 babies living in the chimney. The family comfortably settled on top of the firebox behind the damper. Besides raccoons, animals such as squirrels, birds and bats can also be found nesting in chimneys.

Signs of Raccoons in the Chimney

If you have raccoons living in your chimney, you will typically hear animal noises above the firebox. There may be scratching, rustling and even yelping if there are babies involved. The raccoon is the largest of the critters that may inhabit your chimney, so they are usually the easiest to spot, yet one of the most difficult to remove.

Don’t Start a Fire if You Have Animals Living in Your Chimney

Starting a fire when there are critters in your chimney is not recommended for many reasons. First of all, you risk killing the animals, which is certainly not a humane solution to a human-wildlife conflict. If that doesn’t bother you, think about the unpleasant smell your home will fill up with, as well as how difficult it may be to remove dead animals from hard-to-reach places such as inside your chimney Second of all, keep in mind that raccoons and squirrels frequently nest on top of the damper, which you will have to open in order to draw the smoke out. Opening the damper may cause the litter of soot-covered animals to fall into your fireplace and go berserk inside your house. So what should you do if you think there are animals in your chimney? Contact Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control right away! We will send a professional to safely and humanely evict all unwanted critters out of your chimney. Typically, raccoons have two den sites, so in the situation we described above, we forced the mother raccoon to move out of the chimney and go to her other den. In other circumstances, a raccoon may be captured in a live trap or physically extracted out of the chimney with special tools.

Preventing Raccoons From Nesting in Your Chimney

It’s actually relatively easy to stop raccoons and other critters from building nests in your chimney. All you need to do is install a stainless steel chimney cap, which is what we did for our customer. Besides keeping the critters away, it also protects your chimney from rain, snow and other types of precipitation. Think your uncapped chimney could use an inspection before the fireplace season? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help!

What a Drip Edge is and Why Your Home Needs it

What a Drip Edge is and Why Your Home Needs it

We’ve talked about eave drip edge before when we were describing a squirrel removal job we performed in Silver Spring, Maryland. In that home, the lack of eave drip edge led to a squirrel problem in the attic. However, since then we’ve come across numerous other scenarios where a missing drip edge led to a wildlife infestation. As a Maryland wildlife removal company, we are urging you to check whether your home has an eave drip edge and its condition. Because if you don’t, there is a good chance you have critters living in your attic.

What is an Eave Drip Edge?

An eave drip edge is a strip of galvanized metal or aluminum installed over the fascia board underneath the roof shingles to cover the so-called carpenter’s gap. A carpenter’s gap is a space between a roof deck and a fascia board. This gap may range from 3/4” to 2,” and may vary throughout the roof line. In some cases, it’s unavoidable due to the different angles between the roof deck and the fascia board. In other cases, it’s wider than necessary due to the contractor’s lack of attention to detail. Either way, it should always be covered with a drip edge flashing. The picture above shows an example of a carpenter’s gap with a missing drip edge.

The Purpose of a Drip Edge

  • Stop squirrels, rodents, insects and other animals, such as bats, from getting into your attic. Remember, bats need just 1/4” opening to fit!
  • Stop the bottom row of shingles from drooping over the roof deck edge and cracking.
  • Stop leaves, debris and sideways rain from getting blown into the soffit.
  • Protects the roof deck from water damage and rot.
  • Create a finished look for your roof and your home in general.

How to Check if Your Home Has a Drip Edge

Because it’s covered by gutters in most areas, you wouldn’t see the drip edge unless you are up there cleaning them. Take a ladder and closely inspect the space behind your gutters. There shouldn’t be any gaps there. Or you can always call a roof inspector to get your entire roof evaluated. If it turns out that you don’t have a drip edge, it’s fairly easy to install. An eave drip edge is nailed to the roof deck over or under the underlayment, depending on your local building codes. Make sure your roofing contractors check the drip edge and install a new one as needed when they are doing roof replacement.

If You Think You Have Animals in Your Attic

If you lived in your home for a while without ever noticing the missing drip edge, it’s possible that your home has already become a home to a family of squirrels or a few generations of bats. If you are hesitant to go up in the attic and check for yourself, we don’t blame you! That’s what our Maryland wildlife removal professionals are for! Give us a call or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help!

Overhanging Branches Are an Invitation for Raccoons

Overhanging Branches Are an Invitation for Raccoons

Do you know what our Maryland raccoon removal technicians find in common among most raccoon-infested homes? Large trees with branches that hang over the roof. This is basically an open invitation for the raccoons to come over and build a den in your attic or chimney. Take a look at this picture of an Annapolis home invaded by raccoons.

See the two gaping holes? That’s how the striped bandits made it inside the attic. And you can also see a tree branch that conveniently hangs right next to the holes. This photo was taken from the roof, as the damage is difficult to see from the ground. The only way homeowners would know about the raccoons is by hearing odd noises from the attic or noticing a leak. As if the holes in the roof weren’t bad enough, raccoons have also established a latrine (a raccoon litter box) on the roof and inside the attic. You can see the raccoon droppings on the roof on the below photo. Raccoon urine and feces saturate whatever surface they are on, causing disintegration, corrosion and plain bad smell. Most of the time when we encounter raccoon latrines in the attic, we end up replacing the insulation because it’s damaged beyond repair.

How to Stop Raccoons from Climbing on the Roof

Racccoons are excellent climbers. They are not born with this ability, but they are equipped with all the right tools, such as strong paws and sharp nails. It takes a little bit of practice for raccoon kits to master climbing, but once they get the hang of it it and grow to adult size, little can stop them. If a raccoon has set its mind to get on your roof or in your attic, it will get there. It will climb the gutter and even certain types of grippy siding, such as brick and wood. Take a look at this video of a raccoon family climbing straight up the brick wall of an abandoned home. All of them make it to the top of the wall without trouble, but the mother is the only one who can climb over the roof edge and drag her kits with her. The one thing you could do to discourage raccoons from getting on your roof and in your attic is to make it difficult for them. Raccoons are opportunistic animals and will take a chance when they see one. If you have a large tree right next to your home with overhanging branches, that’s an invitation for raccoons to come in. Having massive trees close to the house is dangerous for many other reasons as well, so whenever possible, remove these trees or at least trim the branches. This will help you keep away not only raccoons, but other critters as well, including squirrels and snakes. If you suspect that a raccoon may be living in your attic, or see one trying to climb the side of your home, call Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control right away. We will help you safely and humanely get rid of the nuisance critters and suggest other ways you can prevent future intrusions.

How One-Way-Door Traps Work For Squirrel Removal

How One-Way-Door Traps Work For Squirrel Removal

Our Maryland squirrel removal specialists have evicted hundreds of squirrels from homes in Annapolis, Glen Burnie, Edgewater and throughout Maryland. We have found that one-way-door traps work best for squirrel removal and allow for humane resolution of the homeowner/wildlife conflict. Today, we’ll show you how these trap doors work, but first let’s take a look at the type of damage squirrels can cause to your home.

Roof Damage From Grey Squirrels

The photos below show various entry points created by the gray squirrels to access the attic. On the far right photo, you can see that the homeowner attempted to fix the hole underneath the gutter by installing thin chicken wire. It a quick and commonly used fix we encounter frequently, but it often ends up causing even more problems. In this particular case, the homeowner didn’t make sure that squirrels were out of the attic when he installed the wire. When the squirrel realized it was trapped, it panicked and started digging a hole in the sheet rock ceiling in an attempt to get out of the attic. Once the squirrel heard humans below, it stopped the digging and focused on the chicken wire. Needless to say, this mesh was no match for squirrel’s teeth and was chewed through and ripped off rather quickly.

One-Way-Door Traps for Squirrel Removal

This is a photo of a hole that eastern gray squirrels chewed through so they can live in the attic. The “cage” over the hole is called a one-way-door trap. It allows the squirrels to exit the hole it made, but doesn’t allow it back in. As you can see from the picture, it’s made of thick, durable metal that squirrels can’t chew through. After all the gray squirrels are trapped and removed from an attic, the trap is removed and the entry points are repaired. The materials used to seal up or repair the holes should be squirrel-proof. For example, this hole would be repaired with wood wrapped in aluminum flashing to prevent other squirrels from entering that area. You are probably wondering why we use squirrel-proof materials if we trapped the squirrels that were there causing the damage? The reason is because the squirrels that were denning in the attic most likely urinated all over the attic and roof (marking their territory), which leaves behind scent pheromones that can attract other squirrels. The longer the squirrels are living in the attic, the higher the likelihood that you may have to have the attic cleaned out and re-insulated to prevent other squirrels from moving in and causing more damage. Have other questions about squirrel removal or simply want the nuisance critter gone? Contact Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control for squirrel removal in Maryland.