Preventative Measures for Winter

As it gets colder outside, many animals are in search of protection against the elements. We’ll talk about how to secure your home for winter to prevent animals from gaining access to your home. 

Last winter, we wrote a blog about animals and their hibernation habits, but not all animals in Pennsylvania hibernate throughout the entire winter. 

Inspections and Sealing

First and foremost, we recommend a general inspection be performed of the home. This helps us identify any weak spots or openings that would allow an animal to gain access to your home or property. Some animals such as squirrels, mice, and rats can gain access through a hole the size of a quarter, or enlarge the hole to get inside. 

Vent Guards and Custom Screening

Commonly, animals gain access through vents. Most gable end vents have light screening installed but this allows animals to chew through. Moreover, squirrels and raccoons will chew through, gaining access to your attic.

Securing Pet Food and Garbage

Securing any pet food and garbage also prevents animals from being attracted to your home. Opossums are attracted to pet food and are often caught using pet doors.

Additionally, any bird feeders should be emptied as they have migrated. Ultimately, unsecured food will attract other unwanted animals to your property. Making sure that all doors, especially shed and garage doors, are tightly closed also prevents animals from getting into unwanted places. 

Chimney Caps

Chimney caps are another recommended method of protection. Not only do chimney caps prevent animals from entering, but there’s also a variety of benefits achieved from installing a chimney cap. Fire prevention, moisture damage prevention, and downdraft reduction are all additional benefits. 

During a job we completed a few years ago, a family opened the damper to start a fire and the damper had gotten stuck. A squirrel came down their chimney and was unable to climb up.

We recommended a chimney cap and manually shut the damper upon customer request. But later that week, the damper was opened for another fire and was stuck again. Another squirrel ended up in their fireplace. 

Your Local Animal Removal Experts

We’re licensed by the PA Game Commission and follow all of their guidelines for trapping and removal. If you experience any of these issues throughout the winter, give us a call or use our contact form.

Hibernation Habits

squirrel in snow by tree trunk

As we progress into the colder months, it’s important to be aware of animals to look out for. Some animals will be entering hibernation and searching for warmer spots to migrate to. On the other hand, some animals do not hibernate at all.

We’ll go over common animals we see in the winter, their hibernation habits, and signs to watch out for.

Opossums

To start off, opossums do not hibernate due to their low body fat content, but they do search for warm shelter. This includes venturing indoors into your attic, chimney, or crawlspace.

Opossums move around a lot throughout the winter to avoid predators. A male opossum, fitted with a tracking device, visited over 19 different dens in 5 months according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bats

Bats such as little brown bats and big brown bats can hibernate for more than 6 months waiting for the return of insects. They prefer caves, mines, rock crevices, attics, and chimneys. However, bats do not stay asleep the whole time. A common sign of bats in your attic includes noise or rustling. If an area gets too cold, they’ll move to a warmer area or vice versa.

Moles

While it may appear that moles have disappeared from your property, they have only burrowed further below the frozen surface. Their molehills may not be present, but as the ground thaws in the spring the mounds will reappear.

Raccoons

Similar to the opossum, raccoons do not hibernate but search for warm dens. However, in extreme temperatures, they can sleep up to a month. Although they are usually solitary creatures, some will den in groups during the coldest days of the winter.

Squirrels

During the warmer months, squirrels gather and stash their food for the winter season because they do not enter hibernation sleep. Throughout the day, they are active outside. However, they do stay in their nests during extreme weather conditions. If you hear rustling coming from your attic during the day, squirrels may be nested in your attic.

Groundhogs

Groundhogs are one of the few critters we deal with that do hibernate from the first frost until April. The first frost usually happens between October and November, they then retreat to their burrows. The colder weather triggers a hormone that helps them sleep for the duration of winter.

Removal and Preventative Services

While winter is a less active season for animals, it is the perfect opportunity to have your home inspected and sealed prior to their reappearance in springtime. Chimney capsvent guards, and custom screening protect their most common entry points.

If you believe animals have made their way into your home for the winter, give us a call or use our contact form for removal and remediation!

Vent Guards and Gutter Guards

Custom Screening

We are finally into the warmer months of the year which are active seasons of most animals in Central Pennsylvania. We offer custom solutions to seal and protect your home.

Some animals search from top to bottom for any weak spots. Once they find one, they will turn it into their new front door!

We’ll highlight the benefits of our gutter cleaning services, custom vent screening, vent guards, and gutter guards. Additionally, we also install chimney caps that protect your home from a variety of issues.

Vent Guards and Custom Screening

Some vents come with built-in screening. However, most of these built-in screens are not strong enough, allowing animals to chew through them.

The vent guards we use cover typical vents such as dryer vents and bathroom vents. For other vents that are custom to each home like dormer and gable vents, we create a custom screening solution that prevents animals from entering your home. We craft a cover out of heavy gauge wire and aluminum for a perfect fit and protection.

Standard Vent Guards
Custom Screening
Custom Screening

Different Animals that Exploit Vents

Birds find vents to be optimal nesting areas due to the protection and warmth. Raccoons, squirrels, and mice are excellent climbers. Moreover, mice use brick, stucco, stone, and other textured exterior elements to scale your home. Bats will often use vents and other small openings to gain access to your attic or living space.

Our custom screening solutions not only seal your home, but match your home’s aesthetics to create a unified, finished look.

Gutter Cleaning and Gutter Guards

Gutter Guards
Gutter Guard Installation

Typically, without any gutter guards, gutters should be cleaned out a few times a year. Gutter guards are not a permanent solution, but they significantly reduce the number of cleanings. With gutter guards, gutters should be cleaned once every 1-2 years. They act as a filter that are installed over your gutters that prevent debris from entering your gutters. Ultimately, this prevents clogging and allows rainwater to be drawn away from the roof.

We offer regular gutter cleaning services as well as gutter guard installations.

Backyard Wildlife Solutions has over 15 years of experience installing chimney caps, gutter guards, and custom vent screening. Please give us a call or use our contact form to find out more about our exclusion methods!

Chimney Cap Installation

Chimney Cap on Brick Chimney

You may ask, “What are the benefits of having a chimney cap?” There are multiple benefits of having one installed onto your home. While chimney caps keep animals out of your chimney, they reduce moisture damage, block downdrafts, and prevent sparks from landing onto your roof.

Critter Control

First and foremost, it keeps animals out of your chimney. If you have had experience with a squirrel, bird, or raccoon falling or flying into your home, a chimney cap is a preventative measure our technicians strongly recommend. If you haven’t yet experienced this, the installation would prevent any future animal issues with the chimney.

Moisture Damage

Moreover, it prevents rainwater from entering the chimney and sheds water off the chimney top to prevent mortar damage. Rainwater also damages stainless steel liners, dampers, and mortar joints. Ultimately, built-up moisture from rain creates expensive damage. They also prevent branches, leaves, and other debris from falling into your chimney.

Downdrafts

Has your living room ever filled with smoke while using the fireplace? This is usually caused by a downdraft. Depending which way the wind is blowing, it causes a gust of air that sends the smoke down the chimney and into the fireplace. The design of a chimney cap also blocks wind.

Fire Hazards

Additionally, it stops sparks and embers from landing on the roof. Smoke easily carries these up the chimney; however, a chimney cap is designed to block these. It prevents a fire on your roof.

If these benefits sound appealing, don’t hesitate to give us a call 717-419-0781 or use our contact form! We safely remove any animals and install stainless steel chimney caps with a lifetime warranty. We have access to a full range of standard and custom caps. Backyard Wildlife Solutions has over 15 years of experience in animal removal and installing chimney caps. We currently serve all of Central PA including Lebanon, York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and surrounding counties.