How to Keep Pests Out of your Gutters and Home This Winter
Your gutters have a very important job to do: route the water away from your home so all stays dry inside. It may come as a surprise that other species may actually use your gutters for another purpose: nesting. Gutters are exposed to the elements, which inevitably includes the animals and pests that live outside. As the fall comes to an end and winter sets in, animals may decide to take up residence in your gutters.
Nesting animals may take advantage of already-clogged gutters because the material inside is attractive for a typical nest for these critters: leaves and debris clog gutters. If the gutters were not already clogged, a nesting animal could bring clogging material to the gutter because it’s an attractive location away from predators. Regardless, nesting animals are bad news for your gutters.
At this time of year, animals change their patterns because the weather changes and falling leaves are finally emptying the trees. As it gets colder, some pests (like insects) die, some try to find shelter for hibernation, and some are active but also seek shelter. Some of these pests find shelter in your gutters, and if they can find an opening to get into your attic, they will.
Here are some pests to watch out for in late fall/winter:
Many people like to watch birds and enjoy living where birds are aplenty. However, aside from issues related to water obstruction, birds nesting in your gutters may carry mites and other diseases that you do not want near your home. Birds nesting season is over by the time fall and winter roll around, so it’s a good time to remove any nests if you have them and take measures to prevent them from nesting in your gutters in the spring.
Squirrels and Chipmunks
Squirrels and chipmunks head to gutters for the same reason that many other pests do: nesting material is plentiful, and they have shelter from predators. Unfortunately, squirrels can get stuck in tighter areas of your gutter system, like downspouts. Chipmunks are less likely to get stuck, but the possibility exists. If an animal gets stuck and dies inside your downspout (or any enclosed part of your gutter system), removing the body can be very difficult.
A possum could be another pest that finds its way into your gutters in the winter. One challenge that makes possums especially difficult to detect and remove is that they are nocturnal, which means that you may not be able to notice they’re there during the day. Possums are also quite heavy, and if they inhabit your gutters, the system may begin to sag and detach from your roof. If left alone, a possum might even have a litter of babies in your gutters.
Your gutters and the debris/leaves they might contain are also good nesting spots for mice in the winter, especially. Mice access your gutters through cable and electrical wiring entering your home or could climb up your downspouts (or nest inside). They can use your gutters as a gateway inside your home if there are any holes or vulnerabilities.
No matter which winter pest makes its way into your gutters, it can spell bad news. There are many measures you can take now to avoid any inhabitation. One way to prevent these animals from hiding out on (or in) your dwelling is to install gutter guards. Gutterworks has got you covered! Another way is to make sure your gutters aren’t habitable by clearing them out, meanwhile inspecting to make sure critters don’t have a way inside. If you need help making sure your gutters and roof are in great condition, give us a call at 304.848.9870.