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How to Secure Your Roof to Prevent Animals in the Attic

By Mark Soto

August 09, 2023

Squirrel on a roof

While unwanted animals in the attic can be a problem year round, it's when the weather starts to get colder and we all want to spend more time indoors that neighborhood critters begin to consider moving in with you in earnest. To prevent animals seeking refuge in your cozy attic (and thereby possibly in other parts of your home), you need to ensure pests can't access it through roof. The best time to do that is during spring and summer when it's still warm outside and the local wildlife hasn't—necessarily—started hunting out new habitats.

Here's how to keep animals outside and prevent unwanted intrusions.

Inspect Your Roof

The only way to know if you might run into a possible animals in the attic issue is by getting your roof inspected for vulnerabilities. It's typically best to call a roofing contractor* as they will know what to look for. They can spot any openings in the roof's structure, patch any holes, or replace damaged shingles. These are all things animals will seek out in order to make their way inside your home.

It's generally recommended that you have your roof inspected at least twice a year. Get one inspection before winter, either in late summer or early fall. Then get another one close to spring, when the snow has melted, so you can see any damage that might have occurred in the freezing weather. During these inspections, a roofer will also review your attic and look for warning signs—like chewed wood—that might signal pests are already inside.

Trim Nearby Tree Branches

Animals often use trees to climb onto roofs and direct overhanging branches make it even easier for them. Accordingly, regularly trim branches near your roof to prevent curious squirrels and other animals from gaining access.

Plus, trimming tree branches has other benefits. Untrimmed branches can fall on the roof and scratch the shingles or cause more serious damage. Once winter arrives, branches that get too heavy with snow are more likely to break and fall on the roof.

Cover Vents and Other Entries

Roof vents naturally have openings to allow for proper air circulation, making them another way animals get inside an attic. But you can cover these vents and still keep them working effectively. Install a roof vent cover with steel mesh to keep debris and animals out. The robust material also helps prevent animals from chewing through. Some roof vents, like the GAF Cobra® SnowCountry® Advanced or the GAF Master Flow® SSB960 Super Slant-Back Roof Louver, offer an internal filter/screen that not only resists snow and weather infiltration but also helps prevent insects from gaining access.

If your home has a chimney, that's another factor you have to consider. You can have a roofer install a cover like a GAF Master Flow® Chimney Cap, which allows smoke to safely leave the chimney but stops animals from coming in. It also helps prevent debris from falling inside the flue, making it a must-have product during the winter.

Lastly, cover up any openings between the shingles and gutters with a product like properly installed drip edge flashing. If you don't already have a drip edge installed between these two areas, hire a roofer to install it for you, so rodents can't get inside.

Clean Gutters

As gutters get filled with debris, leaves, and standing water during the year, animals may see this as a an invitation to move in. Mice and birds sometimes build nests on gutters. Mice can make their way into your home to nest inside as the weather outside gets colder—and that's a problem.

Also, if you don't routinely clean out debris, standing water may pool in the gutters, serving as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Termites and ants are also attracted to dirty gutters.

Clean your gutters twice a year, ideally after spring and always right before winter— you don't want snow to add to the weight of the existing debris.

Remove Food Sources

Finally, if you don't want animals in the attic, reduce the chances of them getting near your property in the first place. Always close and secure the lid on your garbage can outside so animals don't consider your property as a food source. Also, avoid leaving any other garbage bags outside since squirrels, raccoons, and other animals can easily rip through them. If you have pets and keep food outside for them, bring it indoors instead.

Trust the Professionals

You might be tempted to get up on a ladder and clean your gutters or inspect your roof yourself, but these are tasks best left to trained professionals. Reach out to a local contractor* for help checking the health of your roof or addressing any potential entry points.

*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products. Your dealings with a Contractor, and any services they provide to you, are subject to the GAF Contractor Terms of Use.

About the Author

Mark Soto is a freelance writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has comprehensive knowledge of home improvement projects based on his previous work. Mark comes from a family of DIYers and has worked with landscapers, plumbers, painters and other contractors. He also writes about camping and his enthusiasm for the outdoors.

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