By Farren West, Key Inspection Services
Most people never know they have rats in their home. That’s because most homeowners don’t spend much time in their crawlspace and attic, where rats like to hang out. After all, who wants to climb around in a dark wet place and get covered in spider webs, insulation and, possibly, rat poop?
It’s really not much fun, even for an inspector. But as a home inspector for more than 10 years, I take every precaution possible when entering a crawlspace or attic, including a proper suit, respirator and knee pads. I don’t recommend that homeowners go crawling around in these places unless they take the proper safety precautions: It can be very dangerous and is not for the faint of heart.
But there is an easier way to check for these long-tailed visitors. Here are four places to look:
1. Crawlspace vents
These are the vents on the outside of your home near the bottom of your siding. Not all houses have these, but if yours does, look for any damage to the screens or other parts of the vents. Keep in mind that rats can get through holes as small as a quarter, and mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime.
2. Rat ladders
Examine anything touching your house, including large trees, vines, trellises or shrubs. Home inspectors often refer to all of these things as “rat ladders,” because rats can climb right up them into any openings in your roof.
3. Bird blocking vents
These vents are small openings around the roof that allow air into the attic system while preventing pests such as birds and rodents from entering the area. Generally there is a small mesh screen installed over these holes to prevent unwanted access. When the screens are damaged, they are common entry points for rats.
4. Furnace ducts in your garage
Duct work around furnaces is not always properly sealed. And because this area is nice and warm, it is a perfect rodent resort. Look at the rear and sides of the furnace for small gaps, or gaps around any plumbing holes going through the wall in your garage.
If you find any signs of rodent activity, contact an expert. And for those of you who are cat people, yes a cat can kill a rodent, but it can’t patch holes in your crawlspace or cut back trees that are touching your house. A trained professional will know how to find the holes to seal to prevent rodents from entering your home, clean out damaged materials and sanitize the area, as well as any other work that is needed to deal with a rodent problem.
About Farren West and Key Inspection Services
Farren West operates Key Inspection Services, a home inspection company in the Seattle area. He also runs several home inspection websites, including YourCondoInspector.com and InspectNewConstruction.com.
Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.