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Of mouse and man

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It’s a battle of wits and I’m losing to a mouse…

It’s that time of year again when we usually have to deal with a few mice that find their way into our house. Setting some traps often eliminates the problem for a while. There are a number of possible entry points– all in the addition– but access to most of them is not humanly possible and I have not been in a hurry to find them anyway since we will eventually be tearing down and rebuilding the addition.

Suspected entry point

One area where we are certain the mice are coming in is the former laundry closet which is located near a foundation wall. At one side is a cabinet and sink and there are always droppings inside the cabinet. In fact, last week, it was where I caught a mouse. Inspired, I set another trap hoping to catch more.

I checked on the trap on Thursday. It was now on its side at the back of the cabinet, so I figured that I had claimed another victim. But when I reached in to retrieve the trap, it was empty and I found out the hard way that it had not even been tripped (ouch). To add insult to injury, the peanut butter I used for bait had been cleaned off and the edge of the wood base had been gnawed.

mouse trap

Am I paranoid thinking that this was a planned set up?  Worse, how pathetic is it that the rodent’s counter attack was successful?

This means war…

After this humiliating setback, I decided it was time to deal with this one problem area.  It might not stop the mice from coming in elsewhere, but at least I would be reclaiming this territory.

When the closet was used for laundry, the sink was in an awkward location.  Not only was it difficult to use, but we couldn’t access the lower cabinet with the laundry appliances in the way. A few years ago, we moved the laundry and disconnected the plumbing. 

Cabinet on the side wall of the closet.

It was time for the cabinet to come out. So I grabbed my trusty pry bar and went to work.

Revealing more dubious workmanship

The cabinet had been installed before the drywall so the studs behind it were open.

The stud wall sat directly on the floor joists, so the floor sheathing went up to the wall but not under it.  That left an area where vermin could easily get in even though the void was stuffed with insulation. Energy efficiency was definitely lacking.  This area was very drafty.

You can see in the picture belo the level of attention to detail.  Not exactly the neatest wiring job, is it?

I had disconnected the low voltage wiring years ago, but it was still hanging there between the studs along with other disconnected wires.  Now, I could tidy up this mess, but what’s the point?  We will be sending all of this to the landfill in a couple of years anyway.

Impeding their ingress

spray foam
Great Stuff sprayed in the voids

I used some Great Stuff Pest Block to fill the voids between the floor joists. Standard spray foam will not stop rodents, but maybe this formula will. At the minimum, it should eliminate the draft. 

Hopefully it works as it claims and blocks pests from coming in.  Time will tell. 

Since yesterday I have set up three traps in problem areas in the addition, including this closet.  So far, there have been no victims.  Ideally, the mice are outside, wondering why they can’t get in. At least with the cabinet gone, the mice have one less place to hide.

Update: January 14, 2013

Mice are still getting into the house. Since I removed the sink and cabinet  and spray foamed any voids I could find there have been three more rodent casualties– all inside the closet. There is no evidence that they are chewing through the foam so there must be another point of entry. Obviously, to eliminate this problem completely, I need to investigate outside.

I have come to accept that mice are a fact of life where we live, but I would sure like to know how they are getting in the house. Mice do not need a large hole. As long as their head fits through, they can squeeze the rest of their body through as well. Unfortunately, I cannot easily access the area where I think the mice are getting in, as you will see in the video below.  This is my first video, so the quality is rather cringe-inducing.  But it will give you an idea of what I am dealing with.

So, rather than risk injury crawling under the only accessible area of the addition, I will admit defeat. For now.

When we rebuild the addition, we will make sure that there is no way for any vermin to get into our house again. Enjoy your victory, rodent! But be warned: I am still setting traps!