Case Studies

Cowleys Pest Services Case Studies: Squirrels gain easy access to Imlaystown attic by chewing through soffit

Monday, February 20th, 2017 by Michael Senz


This Imlaystown homeowner had the old style of vented soffits that were covered by screens. What’s a soffit? All you need to do is go outside your home and look up at the roof. The material connecting the roof overhang and the side of your home is soffit. Soffit is the building material, usually aluminum or vinyl, that covers your eaves and protects your rafter beams from the elements. However, your eaves should not be sealed airtight and most soffits have some form of ventilation such as holes in the aluminum or a screen ventilation strip. Soffits are vented to circulate air and cycle heat and moisture away from your attic. Without vents, during the hot summer months, your attic would draw in and retain heat, leading to high indoor humidity levels, mold growth, and high utility bills form an overworked air conditioning system. And during the winter, without vents and air circulation, there would be moisture buildup leading to wood rot and mold. 

Soffits are directly exposed to the outdoor elements, and since they are attached to the fascia board (where your gutters are placed), they are always surrounded by water and moisture. Over time, soffits can degrade, and like all roofing materials they eventually require repair or replacement. With these particular home, the soffit had deteriorated to the point where some of the screens had fallen off. These gaps provided an open-door invitation for squirrels to enter the attic. 

Wildlife looks for the path of least resistance and will not hesitate to exploit weaknesses like rotted wood or holes or gaps in your home. As a wildlife technician, I’ve found that one of the most common areas that animals use to enter an attic is the soffit. Attics are a magnet for all sorts of wildlife — you just can’t beat it for its warmth and privacy. Attic insulation also makes for perfect nesting material. Also, some smaller animals are happy to live in the eave itself without even entering the attic. I’ve seen infestations where the the soffits are in good condition, and squirrels have chewed and clawed their way through the vent screens. Other times, like here, the soffit is in need of repair and the animals successfully exploited already damaged building materials. 


To deal with this squirrel infestation, we covered the existing soffit with new style vented soffit to block any entry points into the attic. In addition to closing the access holes, to remove any squirrels remaining in the attic, we installed two one-way exclusion devices. These devices act like a one-way valve: they open to let wildlife out of the attic, but they do not permit them to return. The homeowner was pleased that we could so quickly resolve his squirrel problem and fix the soffit to prevent further re-entry.