Every day when I pull into my driveway from a day at work, I see several squirrels scatter off of my garage and up into the trees. I have several large trees on my property which overhang the driveway, garage, and house, so dealing with squirrels is not new. However, dealing with their destruction is. These squirrels found a way into my neighbors 3rd floor apartment and caused extensive damage, so seeing them around my garage is unnerving.
How Squirrels Get In
Squirrels are excellent climbers and can chew through wood easily, so they can climb onto your house and chew through a wooden gable to gain access to your attic. Twice a year (late summer, early winter), female squirrels give birth to a litter, so this is the most common time that they will seek shelter in your home.
Once the squirrels are in your home, they can do widespread damage. The squirrels will find bedding material by shredding your insulation and wood frame. They will also chew through electrical wiring, which can lead to a fire. They can also chew through PVC, which can lead to flooding or water damage. Basically, they can cause enough damage where you would need to file an insurance claim. The only problem, your homeowner’s insurance policy often will not cover damage caused by the rodents. However, it does cause ensuing damage such as if a fire was caused, or if a pipe opened and caused water damage.
How to Prevent Squirrels From Entering
It is important to fix any holes that squirrels may use to get into the attic. If you leave these holes open, eventually some type of wildlife will seek shelter through them. On the outside of the attic, you will want to secure any soffits and seal them shut. You’ll also want to make sure that any doors or windows shut properly, and don’t have any wide gaps on the outer edges that would allow rodents to squeeze through. On the inside of the attic, you’ll want to repair any previous damage caused by squirrels, like replacing insulation and inspecting all electrical wiring. You can install a steel screen to bolt over your vents; this will usually prevent access through them.
If the squirrels are inside your home, problems only grow bigger. Be proactive, check areas of your home such as the garage, attic, and basement regularly so you can locate holes or other access points before the squirrels do. Keeping these tips in mind this fall and winter season will help you avoid filing an insurance claim. If you do suffer damage, always talk to your agent (us) first to get a sense of whether it's in your best long term interest. Some smaller claims are best left self-insured to keep loss-free credits or other cost considerations.
To learn more about home damage check out our resourcespage. Or view our whiteboard insurance video series for more information.