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What to Do About Unwanted Animals Within Your Foundation

This post was originally published on 4/22/19 and updated on 2/6/20.

If you Google “how to get an animal out of your foundation,” you’ll get some highly questionable results.  Place ammonia-soaked rags in crawl space?! Expose animals to loud music and lights!?  (These were some of my actual results- no kidding!)  These may be good ideas for alienating your neighbors, but not for pest removal.  

Acculevel has been repairing foundations since 1996.  We don’t provide pest removal, but we recognize its importance for the health and well-being of our customers and their homes. Animals can damage foundations, create leaks, undermine footings, and contaminate your air quality.  In this article, we’re going to give an overview of the common types of animal intruders, how to manage them, and the damages they can do to your home.

Signs of Animals Intrusion

It’s relatively obvious if you have intruders in your basement or home- you’ll see rodent droppings or find shredded pieces of nesting material.  But if you have a crawl space you don’t enter regularly, it may be better to check from the perimeter of the house. This is also a good idea in the fall, when animals begin making preparations for the winter.  Prevention is easily the best way to manage pests!

Walk the perimeter of your home, and observe the soil for signs of digging or disturbed dirt. Patches of grass may be torn from the ground. If you step on the lawn and sink a bit, it’s likely tunnels; these may not go under the foundation, but they indicate you have a burrowing animal in the yard.  You should also closely inspect the foundation for any cracks or gaps. These provide an entryway for insects, rodents, AND water seepage. These cracks are early warning signs that your foundation may already have damage and should be evaluated.

Animals Can Damage Your Home

Mice, voles, moles, chipmunks, ground squirrels, woodchucks, and other tunneling creatures are doing what comes naturally to stay safe and warm. However, those goals usually don’t mesh with human goals — which is to keep your home intact and free of animal-borne diseases. 

Crawl spaces are especially susceptible to animal invasion because creatures don’t have to dig down more than a few feet to access them.  And if your crawl space entry is on the outside and does not have a tightly fitting door, you could find yourself hosting stray cats, raccoons, or even skunks.

The first and most obvious damage is the diseases these critters bring with them. The air in your basement or crawl space does not stay under your home.  Your HVAC system circulates the air throughout the building, which means you and your family are breathing in animal residue. If you have encapsulation or a vapor barrier in your crawl space, these animals may destroy some of this- which increases the humidity and odors that enter your home. This not only costs you the replacement of the materials, but also has an impact on your utility bills.

Less obvious, but also of great consequence, is the damage these pests are doing to your home’s foundation.  Animals digging into the dirt around your footings can lead to settling foundations, which can be costly to repair.

Four Steps to Remove Animals from Your Foundation

1. Your first step should be to remove or eliminate the pests.  For mice, traps are usually the easiest and most reliable. You can use poisons, but these can have heartbreaking consequences if you’re a pet owner.  If you have larger rodents like rats or squirrels, you should contact a reliable exterminator.  These animals carry diseases that are communicable to humans and should be left to professionals.

If you have cats, raccoons, or skunks, you’ll want to explore extraction services, instead of extermination.  Look for a contractor who uses humane methods for removing and relocating the animals to a more suitable environment.  For a list of these providers, you can contact:

2. Once you have the invaders removed, have the entry points sealed to prevent the situation from reoccurring.  If your crawl space entry doesn’t fit well and seal tightly, you need to replace it. Any open vents should be sealed off, and cracks should be repaired and filled.  Not sure how to do these things yourself? Acculevel installs steel doors with insulation, airtight entry covers (Turtl), and does crack repair.  They can also seal any open vents you may have and replace a damaged vapor barrier.  

3. You should also make your home a less appealing place for critters to live.  Keep lids tightly closed on garbage cans; this may require weighing them down or using a locking trash bin.  If you store any non-perishable bulk foods or pet food in your garage, keep it in airtight containers to discourage pests.  Clean up the debris around your bird feeders regularly, and do not leave out food for stray animals. If you are softhearted and don’t like the thought of strays going hungry, the best thing you can do is call your local no-kill shelter and report them. (No judgments here- both of my dogs are strays-turned-rescues.)

4. Have your basement, crawl space, and foundation evaluated for damage done by the pests.  If you are experiencing some issues with sticking doors, have found cracks in the foundation, or other signs of foundation trouble, use our free symptom checker for more information.

link to symptom checker

Think You Need Foundation Repairs?

If you’ve had an animal invasion of any sort and need to repair the damages they’ve done, find an experienced local foundation company and make an appointment.  Before you sign a contract for any service, you should always verify the company is reputable, insured, and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.  

If you live in Indiana or the surrounding states, you can contact us and request a free estimate.  Our experienced project managers will evaluate your foundation’s condition and recommend the best course of action for you, to keep your home strong and healthy for years to come.


Kelly Kater

Over her twenty year career, Kelly has worked in a wide variety of fields: secondary education, nursing, biology, elder care, the postal service, multicultural development, and academia. She has developed a skill for translating industry-specific jargon into everyday language. Her goal is to share the knowledge and experience of the Acculevel team with homeowners, in a way that is both engaging and informative.

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