Three steps to evict varmints from your garage

It's unsettling to discover mice, rats, and squirrels in your garage, and overlooking them is about the same as inviting them into your home.

Rodents destroy insulation, adding to heating costs. They can gnaw through wiring, creating fire hazards. And they can do tremendous damage to the engine compartment of your car, too.

Check with your insurance agent to see if you’re covered for damage caused by rodents, and then follow these steps to send them packing.

1. Make your garage less desirable. Garages are notorious for clutter, providing nesting, homes, and hiding places for pests.
  • Keep it clean.
  • Store garbage outside if possible, or in tightly sealed sturdy containers.
  • Seal bird seed and pet food in thick-walled pails.
  • Stack firewood outside.
  • Keep food and wrappers out of your car.
  • Try peppermint oil, scented dryer sheets, or Fresh Cab to safely deter mice.
  • Use mothballs or poisons if there is no danger to pets or children.
2. Find and seal entry points. Rats can squeeze through half-inch gaps, and mice fit through quarter-inch holes. They run on and through pipes, and can crawl upside-down under screens and wire.
  • At night, shine a flashlight in corners, where plumbing and wiring enter, along the tops and bottoms of walls, and around doors and windows. From the outside, any gaps will show brightly.
  • Block floor drains with drain grates.
  • Temporarily plug holes with steel or copper wool, or copper mesh.
  • For a more permanent solution, plug using plaster or concrete patch over copper wool or welded hardware cloth.
  • Nail flattened tin over larger holes.
  • Close and seal windows and doors tightly.
3. Create an outdoor safety zone.
  • Remove vines from walls.
  • Clear a two-foot space between walls and vegetation.
  • Trim branches away from roofs and eaves.
In the meantime, take care when cleaning up mouse droppings and remains. Use gloves and disinfectant to prevent exposure to bacteria and disease.

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