Don’t you love it when you open your silverware drawer and a mouse jumps off the forks and scurries to the back of the drawer?
Yeah, me neither.
And the next two hours spent cleaning everything in the kitchen drawers and under the sink aren’t much fun either. Seriously, mice, why do you have to poop every three steps?
We don’t live in an old farmhouse – this place is only 14 years old – but ever since we moved in, we’ve had the occasional mouse that would take up residence for a couple days, until he either met his end in a mouse trap that my husband set, or got caught in a live trap (my way) and released into the wild a few miles away. Before we finished our basement, that’s usually where they were. But about a year ago, the silverware drawer episode went down.
That’s when my dad taught me about mouse-proofing, and I spent a good part of the next day mouse-proofing our house. Since nobody likes mice in the house, I thought I’d share the process. It’s definitely easier than having to clean up after mice in the house.
Even with newer homes, there are usually a few spaces between the foundation and the walls. I found that they were most likely to occur where the form seams were when the basement walls were poured (or the foundation if you don’t have a basement). It doesn’t take a very big hole for a mouse to get in, and we had probably 10 holes around the perimeter of our house that were big enough for a mouse. They’re hidden from view by the siding, so you have to get down and look up under the siding to spot them. I used a mirror to help find them, but it’s also good to just use your fingers and feel along under the bottom lip of the siding, making sure that there aren’t any gaps between the concrete and the base plate of the wall (wear gloves if you’re worried about bugs).
I filled each hole, either with mortar or with caulk and steel wool, depending on the position and size of the hole. I did this over a year ago, and I don’t have any before pictures. But imagine these shots with gaping holes where the caulk/steel wool plugs are now:
In both these pictures, the hole was right at the top of where there’s a seam in the top of the basement wall. We had a few other holes that were randomly located, but the seams were definitely the most likely spots.
Using steel wool helps to make sure that mice can’t chew through the patch, so I used lots of it. And it’s held in place with lots of caulk packed into the steel wool. In some spots, we had long narrow gaps, and I used mortar to fill those. The caulk and steel wool worked well in places that were bigger holes, because it won’t crack or get chipped out.
Overall, this has been working very well. It’s been over a year, and we had no signs of mice in the house at all. But alas, it looks like I missed one of their little holes, because we now have a mouse that’s been hanging out in our bathroom cabinet (again, mice… why do you have to scatter one poop in every square inch of real estate you walk on?). I went out yesterday to double check the repairs I did last year, and they all still look good. But I know that I must have missed at least one hole or crevice where the little guys can still get in, and this mouse found it. Now I just have to find it too…
And there’s a live trap in our bathroom cabinet right now, since my other project is to relocate our little visitor. Hopefully both missions will be accomplished soon!