Has Anyone Ever Had Their House “Rat proofed”?


“Dear PoPville,

Has anyone ever Rat proofed a house? like with a general contractor who can come in and make serious changes? We have a crawl space under our kitchen and I think that is where they are finding their way in. Its really becoming an issue this summer as we are hearing them in the walls and one got into the house (we killed it). Please help!”

18 Comment

  • No, I’ve never rat proofed a house, but I’ve dealt with a TON of remediation over the past few years thanks to our lovely neighbors and the many area restaurants. The first thing you need to do is assess the entry points, both inside and outside the house, and seal them up. I’d suggest either Cliff at BioTech Pest Solutions or American Pest if they’re busy. After you’ve done this, see if you’ve got any additional rat activity. My goal would be to avoid a major construction project if you can.

  • Sorry for your pain. I don’t know what you mean by “serious changes”, but I did pay a mason to look for and seal up any cracks or loose mortar to keep out mice. If you live in a row house I think it is close to impossible to keep them from getting in your walls because they could come through from your neighbors. Certainly you should be able to keep them from getting into the actual house by sealing up any entry points on the interior.

    • This is exactly right.

    • Actually I spoke to both an exterminator and a general contractor who restores and renovates old houses, and both said the issue of them coming in from your neighbors is largely a myth. It CAN happen, but generally it’s solid brick between row houses with very few entry points. In the overwhelming majority of cases, they’re getting in from someplace outside – often the attic, crawlspace, or a door with a small gap underneath. For me it was the attic.

  • No to scare you, but several years ago I was renting an apartment in a row house and there was a major rat issue. One got in the walls and died (right in the middle of the hot summer) and the odor was terrible. Well, guess what happen next — hundreds, if not thousands, of flies came looking for the dead rat. I literally had to set off fly bombs in my apartment after work for several days to get rid of the flies. The rat small lasted for about 2 weeks. It was awful!! I moved as quick as I could (thank goodness I was month-to-month at this point).

    • *shudder* That is literally my worst nightmare, rats plus millions of flies! uggggghhh!

    • This actually happened to us too! Except we couldnt figure out what died – we had pest folks over and they were completely useless (which has traditionally been my experience with pest control companies). Eventually the flies went away. I remember taking my vacumn cleaner hose and trying to suck up the flies that were too fast for a swatter. It was repulsive.

  • I don’t think hiring a general contractor to take of this won’t solve your problem. Those guys are good for odd jobs but with something like this you need someone that knows what they’re doing. Having watched the pro’s work you realize there’s an actual skill involved in figuring out all of the actual entry points. I second the person that recommended BioTech. They’ll seal any entry points they find inside of the house. Additionally, they’ll put concrete into any holes they find outside as well as spreading rat killer.

  • Jim at Conquest. Expensive, but effective and cheaper in the long term.

  • An exterminator should be able to do an assessment and find/seal entry points.
    Not sure what “serious changes” you have in mind… are you looking to finish the crawl space?

  • yes, sort of.

    1. I had a brand new brick patio, that keeps collapsing in one corner every couple of months. Turns out rats were coming in under it from the adjoining neighbor’ s deck, and digging holes to create their own passage. I had my contractor dig up that part of the patio and fence, put in 2 feet deep steel mesh sheets, and then redo the patio and fencing. No problems since. The only thing apparently they can’t cut through is steel mesh, and they can dig below ground up to 2 feet – so this took care of both issues.

    2. I had a rat suddenly show up in my house after Hurricane Sandy – probably things moved around and it found a large enough opening. I did not sleep for 3 nights – i could hear it wandering around at nigh, ugh! Anyway, we figured out it was coming through holes in the brick wall behind the exposed ducts – because the ducts were so large and high up, you could not really see the holes unless you were looking. My handyman wrapped bits of plywood in steel mesh and used that to plug those holes – no problems since then.

    Hope this helps!

  • +1 on using an experienced pest control company. Plus I avoid the rat poison in favor of traps. It’s more work and you have to check them. I had a fly infestation followed by the dreaded dead rat stench about a week after my neighbor went nuclear with rat poison. The rats just hide, die, and stink and you will never get to them inside the wall.

    I don’t know your particulars but since it’s DC chances are you have an old house with a crawl space. In crawl spaces it’s not uncommon to put down a “rat slab” which is a not so technical term for a thin concrete covering over the dirt floor. It’s also important to note if you have old bricks and vintage mortar. If it’s 100 year old soft bricks and lime mortar you can run into problems if it’s not done properly. Covering a clay brick or stone foundation with concrete to keep rats out could trap moisture and rot the walls or packing concrete into voids may expand differently causing cracks. get some advice, ask questions, and google.

  • I don’t have anyone to recommend in DC, but I went through this in Florida so I know it can be done. I had Florida citrus rats in my attic and walls. I called a rat abatement professional and they were able to completely solve the problem. Look for a good professional who will locate the points of entry and seal them off, and who won’t quit until the job is complete. Also get someone who uses traps, not poison- poison is lazy and will leave you with rotting rat carcasses in hard to reach areas. My experience was that it was accomplished more easily than I thought it would, mostly because I found someone who knew what they were doing. Find someone who specializes in rats if you can. Good luck!

  • Our neighbors did it. They used Connors. It’s an exterminator who has a construction arm. I think they dug up a brick patio and seal some of the exterior with concrete. Or something like that.

  • I’m sorry you have to deal with this. We went through this (keeping finger’s crossed that we’re done with it). We had rats in the ceiling of our basement, including finding multiple nests that required replacing sections of the ceiling. In desperation we signed a one year deal with a pest control company (PestNow) about 6 months ago, which was a spectacular waste of money. It was advertised as an exclusion package, including as many visits as necessary, but for us it’s been easier to solve the problem ourselves than have someone stay home from work to meet them every time. The problem is that it requires daily checking of traps to empty them / confirm that you’ve found the entry point (we laid traps where we thought they were coming in, so that they couldn’t avoid them).
    As others have said, you need to inspect the outside of your house, and block up all entry points (look for gaps around where utilities enter the house, vents without covers, holes in the walls – often in corners, then seal them up with vent covers, of steal wool as a matrix with gap filler sprayed onto it). The people the company sent around were totally worthless at locating entry points ( and charge more / make another appointment to close them), and were not at all concerned by the possibility of locking them in so that they’d die and smell up the place. Their advice was however ultimately useful in helping us figure out where they were getting in (into the flooring of the deck from our neighbor’s yard, then from there into the basement via gaps around the plumbing) .

  • After YEARS of profession ‘help’ I got very VERY good at setting traps inside the boxes myself. Downside, you need to empty the boxes…BUT NOW WE ARE RAT-FREE BECAUSE…a friend recommended sprinkling USED CAT LITTER (yup, we do have a cat) around the area (in your case, near hole, around building base…) and my lord, it truly DOES THE JOB!! Of course, it needs to be ‘reapplied’ after rains from time to time but .. we don’t have rats any more and we did for many many years.

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