Rick from Boxford, Massachusetts called us to ask if there was any way to permanently keep mice out of his house. He had hired a national company a few years back to try to keep the mice out, but the poor guy kept on having problems. He was continually catching mice in traps he set in the basement and in the attic. Just when he thought he’d caught them all, more scratching sounds would start coming from the walls. His cats wouldn’t do anything… they would just stare aimlessly at the walls and ceiling.
Obviously, his problem was bigger than just one or two mice. We set an appointment for an initial inspection to see just how we would be mouse-proofing his home. As I met with Rick and listened to his “tails” of being a frustrated homeowner and part-time mouse-trapper, Rick also wanted me to check out a foul smell he had in his kitchen once and a while. Let me tell you, I was thrilled.
He said he was getting an odor from behind one of his cabinets. He had pulled everything out but still couldn’t find what was causing the smell. He was relieved to hear that I had seen this several times in the past and knew exactly what was going on. I even have my own name for this phenomenon: “Stink Tank”. The problem is the interior wall in the kitchen has no insulation so it is, in effect, a hollow wall. During construction of the home, an electrician may have drilled a hole and not needed it – so he left it open. This hole is very interesting to any mice running the ceiling. When mice investigate the hole sometimes they fall in and go all the way to the bottom of the wall. Since the interior of the sheetrock is so smooth that mice can’t climb up, after a few days they die there, leaving an unpleasant odor for about a week or two. This can be a never-ending cycle as the smell of the mice attracts other mice and so on. I have opened some of these “stink tanks” and removed dozens of mice that had been trapped over many years.
I continued the inspection with a look at the attic I pointed out a pile of bat droppings by the chimney along with all the mouse dropping on and under the insulation. I also found dozens of tunnels in the insulation made by the mice. After seeing this, I had to ask: just what did the other company actually do to try to keep out the mice? Rick said he wasn’t quite sure. “The tech showed up for about a half-hour said I was all set and left.” Hmmm; sounds like he wasn’t very thorough.
We then moved the inspection to the exterior of the home. As I walked around I explained the mouse exclusion process in detail as I pointed out all the openings that were allowing the mice (and apparently bats too) to enter the home. I also found the main opening being used by the mice. They were coming in under the garage door, and going up the wall to a hole in the ceiling (where the oil pipes came into the garage). The grease stains on the wall is what tipped me off as to their travel route. I wanted to do a very thorough seal-up to make sure we could get the mice and bats out and keep them out for good. Rick was so pleased with the thoroughness of the inspection and the explanation of the work to be done he agreed to have us start the work and do a complete mouse and bat exclusion to his magnificent home in the woods.
UPDATE: To this date, Rick has not caught any more mice in his basement and his cats have had to find other things to stare at. No more noise in the walls, no more “stink-tank”, no more problems.
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“Thanks so much for the help with the skunk problem, your exclusion worked perfectly and the odor is gone. You guys are great.”