Sewaren is a small one-square mile town between Perth Amboy and Carteret on the waterfront of the Arthur Kill, a heavily used marine channel that runs between New Jersey and Staten Island (and is also the future home to PSEG’s $600M Sewaren 7 power plant). Cowleys recently had a chance to help out a Sewaren homeowner. She had called us after hearing a racket on her roof and seeing squirrels playing tag on her shingles for a few days. The homeowner has nothing against squirrels and even likes them, but was concerned that they were getting into her attic through a loose section of soffit. She had no interest in investigating the attic herself and instead contacted Cowleys. The soffit is the material that connects the roof overhang with the side of the home. It’s an important part of the home that protects the rafters from the elements and, through its vents, allows air circulation in the attic. Soffits are also a trouble spot. They are vulnerable to water damage if there is a roof or gutter problem, and once the soffit material is softened, it’s a piece of cake for wildlife to chew and claw holes to make an entrance way into the attic.
The homeowner’s concerns were justified. I inspected the loose soffit section near the roof peak pointed out to me. Sure enough, there were signs that squirrels were using it as an entry point into the home. With squirrels and other wildlife infestations involving the roof and attic, it is important to determine how the wildlife is getting to the roof in the first place. Sometimes, the route can be blocked by trimming overhanging branches. Other times, there is not much a homeowner can do. Here,the squirrels were climbing up a corner of the house near the driveway. The siding of the house was cedar shakes, which are thicker and milled less precisely than cedar shingles to give homes a more rustic appearance. Unfortunately, squirrels can grip and climb up shakes as easily as a tree. In these cases, it is important to keep the roof and soffits in good repair, always checking for loose or rotting boards and holes around chimneys, roof vents, and other protrusions. Once squirrels enter your attic, they can cause extensive damage from chewing on wood, drywall, insulation, and even electrical wires. Wildlife infestations sometimes trigger house fires. They also leave toxic droppings, which contain bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. When the droppings dry out, they release microscopic airborne spores that, if breathed in, can cause serious respiratory infections.
After my inspection, it was a matter of setting my traps where the squirrels were likely to come across them. Within a matter of hours, a squirrel was caught in one of the traps. Once captured, I remove and relocate any animals away from human populations. Both the squirrels and people are better off living in peace away from one another. A few days later, after confirming that there was no wildlife up in the attic, we patched up the open soffit. The homeowner was pleased that she once again had a squirrel-free home and that the captured squirrel was relocated to a more suitable environment.