What I'm Seeing Now

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Mouse Highway!

Some people think that if their house is in "the big city" there is less chance for mice to bother the house.  Not true.  They are around, and when it's cold they will want to get in.  It's best not to provide them a mouse highway!

A mouse only needs a space 1/4" wide to get in!  That's it.  And they are always looking for those spaces.

Electricity needs to get inside the house.

Large service conductors bring it in.

They need a large hole on the side of the house.

And that hole is typically filled with some form of putty, or a large clamp.

In this house, one block from the United States Capitol Building, the electrical service was upgraded at some point in the past, to a 200amp service. 

That required a larger conductor than existed prior.

Outside there was a large gap present.

Inside there is a large gap between the wall and the panel box. 

And there is a large gap on the side of the panel box, never sealed!

This is a mouse highway!

So it was not surprising at all when we found evidence of mouse infestation in a house that has been empty for some time.

My recommendation:  it doesn't hurt to walk around the house and look for possible mouse entrances - the electrical connection, where the AC line(s) enters the house, where data lines connect, etc.  You might be surprised at what you find!  Before you put in any putty or other sealer, take a Brillo pad or some other steel wool and put it in the hole first.  Rodents will not try to chew through steel wool.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 73 commentsJay Markanich • January 24 2013 03:07AM

Comments

I had some of the worst mice problems when I lived in urban areas, and had mouse highways...I never knew the steel wool trick though!  Thanks.

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) almost 6 years ago

Steel wool is the best trick Laura.  They avoid it completely.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay,

A block from the Capitol and you think it's only a mouse, huh? I've heard the inexpensive and effective steel wool solution too.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 6 years ago

I suspect it is many more than just "a" mouse, Richard!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay I never knew that and that is why I surf the Rain everyday I can so I can learn something new.  thanks for the information

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 6 years ago

Well, James, chew on a Brillo pad and let us know what you think...     ;>)

It really is true - rodents will new try to chew through steel wool.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Ewwww...one more good reason to have a cat !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 6 years ago

S&D - this is the only being in our house that I can think of who would push for having a cat.

Somebody pictured here would want a playmate.  And not necessarily for play...

She LOVES cats...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, I've seen the mouse highways in attics.  Little trails dented into the insulation and you can tell exactly where there main pathways are. 

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) almost 6 years ago

They love attics Bliz, but only to sleep and plan the next day's attack.  I think they play poker up there too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Over the years, I've had infestations of mice and rats more times than I care to remember. 

My experience is that the urban areas are more prone to infestations than rural areas. 

Yes.  Steel wood works.

If a home is large enough, it might pay to have pest control folks inspect on a regular basis.  Good old Keith has kept my home mouse free for 3 years now. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

You probably have the bait houses all around the house too Lenn.  They get them before the little critters come inside.

Is that Keith at Eco Pro?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

My husband and I just did a walk around the house a couple of weeks ago, we like to use the glue traps, so we put a couple down as well, so far so good.

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (RE/MAX Executives) almost 6 years ago

Mice are so common, especially in the winter. I agree with S & D, get a cat.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 6 years ago

I think the glue traps are kind of fun Tamara.  You think where the mice might like to go and put traps there!

Jim - Jenny, our thoroughbred mutt (beagle/hound)  would LOVE a cat!  I am allergic, however.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Hi Jay.

All it takes is an "itty bitty hole" for a mouse to get into the home. Never know where it could be without a good inspection of the home.

Thanks for the post.

Have a good day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 6 years ago

Jay, we use the "steel wool" at our North Carolina house.  It makes a great Roadblock for the mouse highway!

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

You're right ... 'big city' living is not immune to mice or a 'mice highway.'  And, as you say, they will definitely try to get where it's warm when the weather is cold.  Good reminder to check for openings and for keeping your home critter free!

Posted by Carie Shapiro (North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Years ago we had a lot of mice in the basement living on top of the drop ceiling.  When the lights went out you could hear them scurry.  Brillo in the smallest cracks and about 8 traps later... problem solved.  Helpful tip: put your hand inside a bread bag when you 'collect' the trap and pull bag down over the trap/mouse, tie, and dispose.  You never touch anything with your bare hands and no gloves needed.

Posted by Rafi Footerman, Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More! (Mid Jersey Inspections) almost 6 years ago

Clint - sometimes those holes are hard to find, except for the mice!

Fred - it is the best road block!

Carie - warmth, food, water - insulation for a nice bed - wow, what could be better than our houses!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Sounds like you are a good dog poop collector Rafi!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

And they would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for that pasky Mr Markanich. Always poking around.

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 6 years ago

I was inspecting an above garage apartment one time and I was on the stairs leading up to the front door, I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a rat running along the electrical service line heading to the service mast which was attached to the side of the building! There was a sweet little access hole where the wire entered the house... he was going home!

What is the difference between a rat and a mouse? Hmmm, one larger than the other? The word mouse doesn't sound as nasty as the word rat. Nobody has ever called me a "dirty mouse"

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 6 years ago

That's Keith from BugPros.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Few people pull out the range Scott!

Rats are a bigGER deal then mice Fred!  And more damaging.

Lenn - got it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, 

Mice, rats, flying squirrels, and my least favorite, the nesting mama racoon who delivered three babies in an attic of a home we property manage.  We handle high end homes, they love them all.  Having the right folks to call to eliminate your pest issues is critical.  

Knowing this has also helped me when I work with buyers notice the areas that can be of concern.  They are determined creatures. 

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) almost 6 years ago

Thanks Michelle.  I think raccoons are the most problematic as they are very aggressive and dangerous!  Gotta get all those critters out.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

That is a good suggestion about the brillo pad trick to seal holes. . 

Shouldn't be a conduit somewhere there. .between the inside and outside panel?

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) almost 6 years ago

There has to be some protected via Fernando, and conduits are the best.  But there are always gaps to seal too.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay, with the severe cold weather we're having I will do an outside inspection. Thanks for the Brillo pad tip.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 6 years ago

Get out there Mike!  Stuff those holes!  Photos!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

The steel wool idea has worked for us Jay.

In areas where there is new construction, like tract housing, snakes and rodents can get displaced. They will be looking for a new place to stay.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 6 years ago

Jay, around here it is generally rats----sometimes mice out in the country---the rats generally keep the mouse population under control :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Tom - my wife hates snakes.  When we moved into our new home she looked out the back door into a gaggle of 10 million garter snakes!  She called me in a panic.  I told here they were only there because of the food nearby - like mice.  Yeah, that went over big...

Nothing like a little class and order in the animal house species Charlie!

Get it, class and order?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

The neighborhoodhas 3 cats that patrol outside regularly, we also have hawks, owls, skunks, snakes, raccoon's and the like and the combination keeps the gopher, mole and mouse population down under. It is amazing to watch the check and balance. If you interfere with it, then it takes off in other directions...good post Jay

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 6 years ago

Thanks Richie.  So, don't interrupt the natural order?  Who knew?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

I saw a mouse just yesterday. 

Nice healthy specimen, brown coat with a white underbelly, very clean. And I was happy to see him poking through the bird feeder crumbs.

Why? Because he was OUTSIDE.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 6 years ago

He just went out for lunch Robert!  He'll be back home later.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

And may I add;  Keep the garage door closed when not in use, and check the bottom gasket to make sure it's touching the floor without any gaps.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) almost 6 years ago

Oh, no. We have plenty of mice in the big city. They live in the walls and only come out when they're sick or dying (I was told).

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) almost 6 years ago

In Arizona we have the same problem with cock roaches and scorpions coming in through the gap between the wall and the electrical panel box.  The best way to prevent them from coming through the hole to access all parts of your house by climbing up into the attic and down through the walls is to spray the expandable foam into the gap to secure the area from the tiniest of intruders.

Posted by Barb Merrill, GRI, Associate Broker (Cactus Mountain Properties, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Great post!  Thanks for the tip of the steel wool pad, too!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) almost 6 years ago

Jay, We are seeing a lot of squirrels making ther way into the homes from the ground up and teh roof down. They can do a lot of damage along the way.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) almost 6 years ago

It is amazing how small a space a mouse can squeeze into.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) almost 6 years ago

The electrical panel is one of those warm spots for them. I don't mind the little guys to much. I do mind the mad squirrel in the crawlspace though.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) almost 6 years ago

A few years ago we had a cold winter and the rats started chewing through our screens and eating my curtains! I like the steel wool idea, next time we have  a cold front come through I'll have to stock up on brillow pads!

Posted by Joanne Tarantino, CRS, Realtor (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Knight & Gardner Realty) almost 6 years ago

Jay in our area (suburbs) I have seen that mouse highway with rain gutters as homes and mice go into the garage. They are clever creatures.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 6 years ago

Wouldn't want to be living in route of a Mouse Highway that's for sure! Nice post!

Posted by Marnetta Arnett (Keller Williams Realty) almost 6 years ago

That is really interesting. Living in a rural area, I wouldn't have thought of this.

Posted by Cary Jo Hofstad, Cary Jo, Hofstad, Broker, Blue Sky Realty LLC (Blue Sky Realty, LLC) almost 6 years ago

The info was very informative. I read it because you are a house inspector. I did not realize that brill pads keep the mouse away because of steel.  Thanks, Jimmy

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) almost 6 years ago

We occasionally get a mouse in the house.  Usually one every year.  The cats make a toy out of the one who makes it through.  I just wish I knew where the entrance was!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) almost 6 years ago

I hope that works Ken!  Anything that keeps them out is worth the effort!

Jill - yummie.  Do you save the big ones for the cats?

Barb - someone from Arizona actually contacted me about scorpions.  I have NO experience with them!

You're welcome Jan.  I am sure that knowledge will come in handy.

Debbie - we had squirrels in our attic about 20 years ago.  Those little buggers are hard to get rid of!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Than - I know!  We had them get in and the space was teeny weeny.

Rob - mad squirrels anywhere are a problem!  And they will use your leg as a turning post if needed!

Joanne - they work fine!  Have for me anyway.

Gary - they are inventive and instinctive.  They know more about houses than most homeowners.

Thanks Marnetta.  Hopefully they exit the highway before making it into the house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Cary Jo - you HAVE to have mice out there!

Glad you learned something Jimmy!  It's useful info, for sure.

What, and spoil all that cat fun Kathryn?  You meanie.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Hi Jay - I can handle insects and spiders, but mice are my least favorite thing in the whole world!! Thanks for helping me keep them away!

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) almost 6 years ago

They are dirty little creatures W&J.  And can make us sick too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay - I love the idea about plugging holes with Steel Wool. . .I have just the spot to use that little trick. 

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 6 years ago
Jay -- I have always heard that steel wool is the best to stuff into those spaces. I still don't understand how they can get through spaces 1/4 in wide!
Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

I like the steel wool idea, I had not heard of that before and I have an outside shed that is a condo complex for mice in the winter

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 6 years ago

Jay one thing you did not mention is that if possible try and provide a one way exit for a short period before sealing the hole, especially larger opening that can let in larger critters. The reason is that what ever is in the house if it does not have a way out will die and leave a bad order for weeks and sometime months, depending on the humidity. Field mice not that big of an issue but rats have left bad orders enough to chase tenants out and break a lease.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) almost 6 years ago

Jay, Mice like highways too. It's so nice we provide such nice passage ways ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay - I inspected a house a few months ago that had mice, found out they were entering through a small opening around the exhaust vent for the dryer. The hole was a little to big for the plastic cover. I recommended to the owner to apply caulk and he hasn't had a problem since - Good post.

 

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Jay:  And here, I was hoping for a nice cute story about Minnie and Mickey Mouse.

Back to your post.  Who in the world would leave just a major gap in the wall like that.  Wow.  Why not just put out a sign... "welcome critters?"

Even if you didn't want to try and patch the sheetrock/drywall... all it would take would be a length of "trim" and you'd be done with it.  Strange.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 6 years ago

Okay, the term "mouse highway' is forever marked on my mind.  First thing tomorrow, I'm going to look for cracks, even though I have not seen a mouse.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) almost 6 years ago

Try it Myrl.  It does work.

Barbara - they have very collapsable bone structures.  If they can get their skull in, the rest goes too.

Ed - I think you are obligated to allow them to stay in the shed!

Chuck - a way out is a way in.  What would a one-way exit look like and how does one insure the rodents know that it is?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Don - as members of the natural population, we should be kind and convenient for all other creatures.

Eric - good thing the caulking worked!  I hear they chew through most everything if they want!

That was a big hole Karen Anne!  The house has been vacant a while, but still, it looked like that hole has been there a long time!

Sharon - usually they are not seen!  We had them for a long time before I knew it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Yes, mice can squeeze into small places.  They'd have a big challenge getting into my place since they'd have to climb 16 stories.  But, if they did, they probably would only last 5 minutes w/ my 2 very curious and frisky cats.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 6 years ago

They wouldn't get to it from outside Debbie!  They know more about the inside of your apartment building than you do!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

The steel wool trick is something that is new to us and s great reason to make calls to our SOI.  thanks for the tip.

Posted by Steve Warrene, Pittsburgh Real Estate Investment Specialists (Your Town Realty) almost 6 years ago

Steve - you are welcome sir!  And as I have said to others, it truly works.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Jay - Yes, I know.  But, they would still have a long way to climb...unless they took the elevator but someone might notice them there.  All I'm saying is that if they did manage to get in, they wouldn't last long.  My cats go after everything that moves.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 6 years ago

I live by wooded lots and would get mice in the winter. I found one area with wiring and a small space next to it.

I patched it up and no more mice!

Even the cleanest home will get mice if it's cold enough outside. They want to stay warm too.

Great post.

 

Posted by Mark Robinson, Honesty, Integrity, Service (Geneva Financial, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Debbie - they are all over your building!  High and low!  But with your cats you are probably very safe!

Mark - thanks!  They get in not because a house is dirty, but because they want warmth and/or are looking for food.  Don't give them a way in - like you took away!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

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