Mice-Proofing Case Study
This project illustrates a mice elimination and mice-proofing service in Massachusetts. The goal of this project was to completely mouse-proof this home and provide the customer with a long-term solution to their mouse infestation problem.
The homeowner contacted me in January of 2005 and asked if I would come out to assess a mouse infestation at his home. He informed me that the house was only four years old and that they had had a serious mouse problem since the day the house was finished. Over the years he had several pest control companies come and use baiting stations and rodenticides with limited success. The rodenticides would always eliminate the resident mice but within weeks he would always have more mice as nothing was being done to eliminate the entry points. The customer informed me that he had lost all faith in traditional mouse-control services and wanted to try something new — a long-term solution to his re-occurring problem. I informed him that I had mouse-proofed quite a few homes in the past and that there was a good possibility that I could do the same for his home.
When I arrived I was shocked to see the size and architecture of this house. Never before had I mice-proofed a house that was even close to this size. The house had everything that I don't want to see when trying to mice-proof a house. There were several porches, a cobblestone chimney and sections of the house even had cobblestone foundations. To make matters worse, the house was built in the middle of a large oak grove on the edge of a large meadow. The abundant acorns provided a great food source for the mice and the habitat that surrounded the house was perfect for them as well.
An inspection of the basement showed signs of a heavy mouse infestation: large amounts of droppings on the floor and on the sills. The mice were also traveling through the walls and ceilings of the house and creating noises throughout the day and night.
After driving out to the house on two separate occasions to very carefully inspect the entire structure, I concluded that this house could in fact be mouse-proofed and that I would take a shot at it. It was going to be difficult and it would take a lot of work, but the construction materials and methods that were used to build this house were flawless and I really felt confident that I could provide a solution to the problem. I then wrote and submitted a proposal to the homeowner.
One interesting note is that the homeowner called two other companies (one wildlife control, the other pest control) in hopes of getting two competitive quotes for this project. Both companies informed him that due to the construction of the home they felt that what he was asking was impossible and could not be done.
The homeowner was concerned about the aesthetics of the work that I was going to do. This home was truly a work of art. Both the interior and exterior of the home were totally built in cedar. The roof was slate with copper components and the chimney was by far the most complex chimney I have ever worked on. The home had been featured in several different home and garden magazines and was absolutely beautiful and unique in every possible way. He did not want any of my work to insult the integrity of the home and I totally understood.
I had already researched the types of sealing/joining materials and sealants I would use for the different areas of the roof, foundation and chimney before I even wrote the proposal. I was confident that I could do the job and that my work would all but disappear once installed. With that said the homeowner accepted my proposal.
Fact: Mice can squeeze through openings as small as as a penny!
The first obstacle that I had to tackle was the soffit-vents. When the house was built they used flimsy cloth screening in these vents and the mice were chewing right through them as shown in the first picture below. I designed a heavy-duty vent screen that the mice could not chew through. I made these screens so that they would push into the slots like a pressure-fitting. The pressure was enough so that no fasteners were needed.
After the soffit work was complete I began work on the roof and chimney of the house. There were many small openings in the roof of the house that needed attention. Over the course of two days we completed the work on the roof of the house and the chimney.
It wasn't until I began work on the foundation of the home that I located the major entry-points. Some of the openings were in very tight spaces and I had to use a mirror to locate and treat them like the one shown below. Other openings were typical foundation gaps and small crevices.
One issue that I had to deal with while working on the foundation is that I did not have access under the breezeway that connected the main house to the guest house. It was constructed out of high-quality cedar and removing the panels to get access to this area would be a lot of work and there might not even have been any openings under there. We decided (the homeowner and I) that we would let it go and if the job was completed and mice were still present he would get the contractor that originally built the house to take apart the breezeway to allow me access.
We finished all the exterior work in about three days. At that point the house was completely sealed up and mouse-proof (or so I thought). We then set dozens of mouse-traps throughout the house in an effort to trap and remove all the mice that were now trapped inside the house. We returned four days later to remove trapped mice and reset the traps. Another trip a week later produced more mice and the following week we had even more mice in the traps. At this point I knew something was wrong. These were new mice and they were still coming and going from the house. That's right, the mice got back in after all the work I had done. It was indeed a set-back but I'm not afraid to write about it.
I went over the house from top to bottom and concluded that all my work was still intact and that I hadn't missed anything. I believed that the breezeway that I could not access had to have openings that were still allowing the mice to access the house. I spoke to the homeowner and told him of my findings. We decided to get the contractor to open up the breezeway so that I could get under there to inspect this area. I returned two weeks later and crawled on my stomach in the mud through a 12-inch opening so I could reach the area where the breezeway attached to the foundation of the main house. I found that where the floor-joists of the breezeway met the foundation of the house there was an opening that was smaller than a quarter. This hole had signs of mice all over it. I properly sealed the hole and backed my way out of this spider-infested mud-hole. We then set several traps in the basement of the house in the weeks that followed and never had so much as a smudge in the peanut butter.
The house had been completely mice-proofed and the project was successful.
I received an email from the homeowner four weeks after I completed the job:
Over the weekend I checked the basement very carefully for any signs of mice, and there were none at all. The traps you set remain un-sprung. No rodent smells anywhere, and no scratching noises in the ceiling. I didn't think it was possible to make a house mouse-proof, but you appear to have done it. We just want you to know we really appreciate the work you've done here.
Please keep in mind that most mouse-proofing services are not as complex as the one shown here. The house that was profiled was an extraordinary structure with extraordinary features. Some smaller houses can be mouse-proofed in 30 minutes if the conditions are right. For more information, please see our page on Massachusetts mouse removal and mouse-proofing.