Time: 4 hours
What’s warm, dry and cozy, and beats a hole in a tree? That’s right, it’s your attic. Animals are experts at finding a way in and making themselves at home. That means noise, ruined ductwork, droppings (yuck), and chewed up wiring — now that’s a fire hazard. Seal your attic to keep critters out — your home will thank you.
What's in it for you?
- Protect belongings in your attic
- Stop animal messes before they happen
- Protect your plumbing and wiring
Seal Your Attic to Keep Critters Out
Give your home’s exterior a once over for holes. Look at your rooftop, your roof overhangs, and the space beneath them for holes or gaps. Look closely, holes don’t have to be big to be a problem. Some bats only need a ⅜-inch gap to get in — spooky!
Patch smaller exterior holes with steel wool. Grab a ladder (if you need to) and some steel wool to plug any holes small enough to pack with less than a handful of the stuff. Fill the holes with steel wool and seal the edges with caulk to hold it in place. Done.
Patch large exterior holes with flashing. If you see bigger holes, head to your local hardware store and get some colored sheet metal made specifically for roofing work — just ask for “flashing”. (Psst...you might want to pick up some vent covers while you’re there for the next step.) Measure the hole and use tin snips to cut a piece of flashing, allowing for roughly an inch of overlap around the edges. Grab some box nails, and nail the flashing in place, using just enough to make the edges tight.
Fix damaged soffit vent covers. Climb a ladder and check the space underneath where your roof overhangs your walls (read: soffit). If you see any broken or missing soffit vent covers, get replacements of the correct shape and size. Remove the broken soffit vent covers (rectangular ones need to be unscrewed, while round ones can be pried off) and replace with shiny new covers. Don’t forget to caulk around the edges if you popped in a round cover.
Get inside your attic. No stairs to the attic? Look for a hatch in your upstairs ceiling and climb in using a ladder. You may need to bring 2-by-12 boards to make yourself a movable floor. Sit the boards atop the wood beams going across the attic floor, and move them with you as you work. They’ll form a platform for you to sit on as you move through the attic.
Patch any leftover holes from within your attic. See any remaining holes to the outside? Seal them with steel wool or flashing (deja vu, anyone?). Don’t forget to check the roof while you’re up there. If you’re having trouble finding the holes, let the light be your guide. The sun will shine through the roof wherever there’s a hole. Ta-da!
Add or repair attic vent screens. You fixed your soffit vents (good job), but now you need to check the vents in your attic walls for missing or damaged screens. Don a pair of work gloves and grab your tin snips. Hold a piece of ⅛-inch wire hardware cloth over a vent opening and cut it so it covers the vent with an extra inch around the edges. Grab a staple gun and staple the cloth to the wood around the vent. You want about one staple per inch. Sorry, furry friends — you’ll need to find somewhere else to nest for the winter.
Pro Tip: If you find soffit vents without a cover, you’ll want to add some. Measure the vent hole openings and buy covers that fit them — round holes need a precise-fitting cover so the tabs fit the hole, while covers for rectangular holes attach to the soffit, so they can overlap around the hole’s edges a little.