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Critters in roof - HELP!


milannium's Avatar
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01-26-18, 01:55 PM   #1 (permalink)  
Critters in roof - HELP!

Hello all. I have what feels like a big problem and want to find out if it's something I can fix myself (cost concerns). Also I know nothing about roofs but I'm "handy" and can learn anything online these days.
Pre-war brick construction house. This house has been neglected for a number of years. I've now taken control of it and am trying to fix it up.
There is a room that comes off the main living room on the first floor that I assume was an addition to the original house. When we entered the house this month, there was an odor in the main living room. We think the source is this side room - upon entering the side room you are almost choked by a urine-like smell.
I was informed that in the past squirrels have gotten into the roof of the side room (I see holes in the soffit and under the bottom layer of roof tiles - don't know what the technical term for that part is) so that could explain the smell (guessing urine/feces or dead squirrel in the roof)
Anyway, two nights ago while I'm coming back from walking the dog at night, I hear the guttering creaking but there's no wind blowing. Lo and behold, I spot something climbing the gutter so I assume the squirrels are back. But then I realize this thing looks like its 20lbs and as it gets to the roof and turns around, I see its raccoony face! Out of nowhere another huge raccoon lands on the roof (it jumped from a tree rather than taking the gutter up), and they both stroll into the roof. My roof! Looks like they're entering the roof from a corner where there's some tiles missing (did they do that?). Here's a picture of the guttering/tree as mentioned



My questions:
1. Getting rid of the raccoons and whatever else is living in there?

I've read all sorts of suggestions all the way from loud music and ammonia to getting a professional trapper. The problem is that I don't think the roof space is accessible to people. This is a hipped lean-to roof (is that right?) covering just the side room on the first floor, and attaches to the wall of the main house (see picture). Does that mean I'll just have to wait for them to come out and either trap them on the way out or seal the openings before they come back in?



2. Getting rid of the smell?
I assume that the smell is because the insulation in the roof is (after many years) now soaked with urine and will have to be removed and replaced. I'm hoping it's not because something is dead and decaying...
Assuming the former, the next question is how do I get into the roof to access the insulation? Like I said, I can't see any access point into the roof, so will I have to get into the roof from the outside? I.e., start lifting up tiles until I have a big enough hole to get into? Also, if I have to access the roof space from the outside, will exposing the roof by removing tiles be a sure way of getting rid of any remaining animals? I've attached a view from inside the room (be thankful you can only see it and not smell it). No access to roof. I think there's a hole in the ceiling cos someone previously tried banging it to drive the squirrels away (by the way is it possible squirrels and raccoons are living together?)



3. How do I go about repairing the roof?
So there already seems to be tiles missing because the raccoons needed a doorway. I get it. But if I need to lift more tiles to access the insulation, I'll then be left with a huge hole in the roof. I assume the roof is of standard construction (I don't know what that is, but I figure there's some layers of waterproof material under the tiles???) Would I just follow any regular guide to patching a hole in the roof or do you think there will be more to it? (Please don't say the whole roof needs to be replaced) Picture attached showing possible missing tiles (notice a few curvy end tiles that appear to be missing to the right of the near corner of the roof). I think the tiles on the rest of the roof look ok, but not sure.



4. How do I repair the rest of the roof?
Yeah, so not just missing tiles, but as I mentioned there's holes in the soffit (eaten by squirrels) and holes under the bottom layer of tiles. Swiss cheese really. How do you replace the soffit? Do I need to replace all of it or just patch it? And what about under the bottom row of tiles? What's that part called and how do I fix that? Picture attached with better view of just one of the holes (and you can just about see meshing that someone has added under bottom row of tiles).



5. Do I need to replace the ceiling?
In a previous photo you saw the inside of the room. Being able to make a hole so easily suggests that the ceiling drywall (I think its drywall...the rest of the house has more solid walls) is soaked with urine (disgusting) or is damaged in some kind of way. How would I go about determining that the ceiling needs to be replaced? If it does, I guess that's another skill I'll have to learn.

I think those are all my questions for now. I'll need to go and buy a ladder and try and investigate further. Thanks for any and all advice. Let me know if you need more information.


Last edited by milannium; 01-26-18 at 02:53 PM.
 
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Tony P.'s Avatar
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01-26-18, 02:46 PM   #2 (permalink)  
Your photos are not visible to me, so I can't respond with much specifics.

Broadly speaking, here's my thoughts:
  • You probably do have a raccoon problem. If you do, you should be able to find feces - possibly on the roof.
  • Getting rid of raccoons probably involves one or more traps on the roof. Because of disposal issues, this may be best handled by professionals.
  • Once you get rid of the raccoons remove access from the tree and keep it pruned back.
  • Removing holes is a necessary step but don't do it until you're certain the raccoons are gone as the animals may be forced to escape into the house, itself.
  • When photos are avialable I may be able to comment on next steps.

 
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01-26-18, 02:51 PM   #3 (permalink)  
Hi Tony
I also just noticed that photobucket is no good for hosting photos. I uploaded my photos to this site and linked them again. Can you see them now?
BTW is there a best practice to add photos - I'm new to posting on forums. Thank you.

 
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01-26-18, 05:01 PM   #4 (permalink)  
Your photos don't link properly. The link shows but doesn't work.

 
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01-26-18, 05:15 PM   #5 (permalink)  
Now for some reason I can't edit the first post. I'll attach photos again without trying to embed them in the post. Should hopefully appear in the order in which I reference them.

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01-26-18, 05:34 PM   #6 (permalink)  
Your pics are showing just fine in your first post. Not sure why Tony is not seeing them.
Members only have the ability to edit posts for a few hours. This is to keep spammers from coming back and adding links at a later time.

ETA, I don't see pics or links this morning. Strange! But they are in your other reply.


Adopt a shelter pet!
Spay or neuter your pet!
Please don't leave pets or kids in a hot car!
Bring your pets inside in this cold weather! Have some compassion and sense.


Last edited by Shadeladie; 01-27-18 at 07:46 AM. Reason: Add info
 
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01-27-18, 08:40 AM   #7 (permalink)  
You have a substantial problem with animals getting into your home and damage caused by them. You also have issues with water damage. The first step must be to get rid of the animals with traps. The second step must be to stop them from getting in.

Once the animals are removed you can access the total damage.


Last edited by Tony P.; 01-27-18 at 09:45 AM.
 
milannium's Avatar
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01-27-18, 09:09 AM   #8 (permalink)  
Just to confirm, you don't think the raccoons will leave if we start opening up the roof? If we take off enough tiles to expose the roof space they will still stay put?

 
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01-27-18, 09:39 AM   #9 (permalink)  
Clearly if you do something to invade their surroundings they will react and that may be to leave if you offer them sufficient space. It may also be that the ceiling area has openings into walls of that room or the main house and they may go there. Or perhaps an animal is sick or injured or has young to protect and will react in a manner you don't expect.

If you haven't dealt with raccoons before, you may regret the first time being while you're standing on a ladder. You can probably open the area sufficiently to place traps which is safer.

 
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01-27-18, 10:09 AM   #10 (permalink)  
I'll order some traps. Looks like people commonly use those humane live traps that look like big wire cages. Would it be best to place them on the ground near where I saw them climb the guttering? I don't see how they can be safely mounted on the roof.
Also since I know there are at least two raccoons, should I get two cages or just one and catch one at a time?
Thanks

 
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01-27-18, 11:02 AM   #11 (permalink)  
When placing traps on the ground you may get another animal, even a cat or small dog but you may have no option. Is it possible to open the hole enough to get the trap in?

One trap is sufficient. Given the cost, check out rental or Craigslist.

BTW, don't assume you only have two.

 
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01-28-18, 10:18 AM   #12 (permalink)  
HAVAHART makes a humane racoon trap , available through distributors.

 
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01-31-18, 07:00 AM   #13 (permalink)  
I've ordered the havahart large one door trap (Model 1079).
BTW Found an awesome deal at Lowe's. One large trap and a bonus medium trap both for $30!

 
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02-06-18, 10:40 AM   #14 (permalink)  
Step 2 - How do I get the babies out?

UPDATE: I caught and released two raccoons this past weekend. We got the traps on Saturday and set them up at midday. I found the first one trapped on Sunday morning, so it must have gone in some time between 4am and 8am. I estimated it weighed about 20lbs. The second one went in during the superbowl halftime show. It tried much harder to break out and in the process got a nasty cut above its eye. The second one must have weighed at least 30lbs.

I set the trap again on Sunday night but nothing else captured since. However, unfortunately last night we could hear the tell-tale chittering sound and so I think there are still babies in the roof. We were hoping there were no babies because now they are separated from the adults :'(

As I noted in my initial post, the roof is inaccessible, but we need to somehow get in there and get the babies out by hand. So back to my original Question 2 - what is the best way of getting into the roof while causing the least damage? If anyone could provide some detailed steps, that would be much appreciated.

I assume I will need to enter the roof space from the outside, but what is the best way to do that? Do I start from the top of the roof and take the tiles off one by one? Then cut through or pull back what ever roofing materials are under the tile (felt etc.)? I think I have to do it tonight after work, so it will be dark - I'm afraid if I wait till the weekend the babies won't survive.
Thanks!

 
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02-06-18, 10:50 AM   #15 (permalink)  
There is no way I would do this from the outside. Open up the drywall ceiling inside. Drywall can always be patched and repainted. It will make a mess so move/cover furniture with painters plastic and put down large drop cloths. Get a 55 gallon trash can for the debris, and have a shop vac handy to clean up.

Just cut yourself an access hole somewhere between the joists. Have a piece of plywood and some screws handy to make a temporary cover.

You will also want extension cords and lights. And an 8' step ladder to get up there. You might also want a few 4x4 pieces of 1/2" plywood to lay down on top of your ceiling joists so that you can safely move around.

Removing any clay tiles would be a huge mistake when this can be easily done from inside with no danger of causing a roof leak.

 
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02-06-18, 11:11 AM   #16 (permalink)  
Hi XSleeper,
Thanks for your quick reply. I didn't think of that - haven't done anything like this before. I'm pretty sure the whole ceiling is going to need to be replaced eventually (because of long time fecal damage) so I think your approach makes sense.

Would you still recommend going the ceiling way first, knowing that the roof will need repairs anyway? We need to fix where the raccoons entered, but also as you can see from the photos, there is a lot of squirrel damage. I don't know if that can all be corrected by patch repairs, or if it is a more extensive job (i.e., relaying the membrane under the tiles).

Also I'm afraid to cut the ceiling and have bio-matter fall on me LOL

 
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02-06-18, 11:13 AM   #17 (permalink)  
Yep. You should get a N-95 dust mask too.

You will want to make your hole where you will have the most headroom inside the attic. (Where the roof will be the highest)

 
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02-06-18, 11:25 AM   #18 (permalink)  
Thank you for your detailed advice. A trip to home depot tonight is in order!
I'll post an update after we rescue the babies.
There are no wildlife rehabilitators for raccoons here because they are considered a rabies vector, so I'll plan to take them to where we released the adults and hope they can find each other...

 
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02-12-18, 05:30 AM   #19 (permalink)  
I have some experience with racoons, and when "relocated" they will travel quite a distance to return to a spot they like. My advice is, if you want to just move them, (as opposed to a more permanent solution), several miles away is definitely NOT too far. From the looks of your pics, you have some work ahead of you, both inside and out. Good luck- Steve

 
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02-12-18, 11:15 AM   #20 (permalink)  
Hey Steve,
We drove them to a wilderness about 5 miles away. I'm hoping the density of NYC will make it hard for them to find their way back. Although, while releasing the first one, some passers-by said there's plenty of raccoons in the area so I think they'll enjoy their new home.

 
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02-12-18, 11:41 AM   #21 (permalink)  
UPDATE:
Following my post last week, I had planned to cut an opening in the ceiling and go looking for raccoon babies. Instead this is what happened:

While at home depot, my wife got the idea in my head that rather than babies, we're actually hearing more adult raccoons. She said its unlikely that there are newborns this time of year. That it's more likely the second raccoon we caught was the mother, and that her offspring are still living with her, so they're more likely 9mths old. Not wanting to stick my head through the ceiling and be faced with another 20lb raccoon, I started feeling cautious.

We decided to do some surveillance instead. There were already two small holes in the ceiling (I have no idea how or why they got there) so we rigged up an old phone on a stick and shoved it into the hole along with an old floor lamp, and "chromecasted" the phone camera to our TV. We did this for about an hour and although it was hard to see between the joists, we didn't see any more raccoons. We've also stopped hearing any raccoon noises.

However, we did discover what looks like a sizable raccoon latrine up against the wall under the tallest part of the roof (which explains the unbearable smell and staining on the walls of the room - I'm also very glad I decided not to cut an access hole into the roof because it would have been right under the pile of poop - photo attached). I also found out that ceiling is not just drywall but there is an entire layer of wood behind the drywall. Is this normal? I don't know whether its an old wooden ceiling that was then covered by drywall. It kinda looks like wooden lath. Anyway, this was unexpected and assuming both the wood and the drywall are soaked with urine then I guess it's going to be a much bigger job to remove and replace the ceiling.

By the way - we think by fumbling around through the hole in the ceiling we might have scared off the last raccoon! After we finished, we noticed that the marshmallows in the trap outside had suddenly vanished and the trap had not been triggered. The marshmallows were still in there when we got back from home depot an hour earlier.

I've now placed a claim through our home insurance. It should be covered and the extent of the damage appears great enough to warrant a claim. Under normal circumstances I'd love to learn how to repair the ceiling and walls and do it myself, but with the animal waste thrown in and the need for decontamination etc. I think it's best left to professionals.

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