Dealing with Housepests

Unwanted houseguests are called housepests in my book. That’s even more true when they’re not human.

I moved into my current house last Spring. During Summer, I started noticing some mouse droppings in the basement. Before long, I saw droppings in the house. Then I saw the live monsters in my house. Color me particularly unhappy. My cats were useless. Apparently they expect to be fed 100% of the time. They’re clearly not hunters.

I called in an exterminator who left baited traps. He looked throughout the house and told me where mice were likely to come in. He also told me what I could do to keep mice out. The poisons were set, and we scheduled a follow up appointment for 2 weeks later.

In the meantime, I set to work on following his advice. I bought some concrete repair caulk and sealed the basement foundation to the foundation wall. It didn’t look like mice could get through those spaces, but the exterminator assured me they could. I bought several cans of “Great Stuff” – an expanding foam sealant. I used that to seal around larger gaps than between the concrete, such as around plumbing tubes that came up through the foundation floor. I also sealed around plumbing pipes between the finished and unfinished spaces in the basement. There were even some large holes in cabinetry on the main level, but the spaces were too large for Great Stuff. So I got creative – I crinkled up some aluminum foil and Great Stuffed the foil into place.

When the exterminator came back, he was really impressed, but also a little dismayed. Apparently I was supposed to wait until after his second visit to apply the sealant. Oops. Of course, Murphy came to visit and I saw another mouse later that night. It was eating leftovers from the cats’ food, but it had clearly been poisoned anyway. It wasn’t hard for me to trap, but I was a very unhappy homeowner. Murphy also made sure my husband was out of town and unable to deal with it for me. Grump.

Fortunately, that was the last mouse I saw inside the house. I was warned that I should have the poison refreshed around October when cold weather starts to drive rodents indoors, but I didn’t. I wanted to see how effective my sealant work was. I’m thrilled to report the only mice I’ve seen since were outside or in the garage. There have been no further signs of rodents inside the house!

I’ve since learned that my sealant work paid off in two other areas unexpectedly. While I should have used steel wool instead of foil, the foil is perfectly effective, and I ended up sealing up an air duct by sealing one of those holes (more on sealing air ducts in another post). Now that’s just downright cool. But there’s something even better: sealing the concrete means that I’m not only keeping out bugs and rodents, I’m also keeping out soil gasses. I don’t know much about soil gasses, but I know most people are concerned about radon. Sealing out the mice helped me seal out radon, too, according to my home inspector and my brother!

Bottom line: I’m glad I did the simple work of sealing the concrete in the basement. I got some unexpected bennies out of that deal!

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