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Fall is in the air and leaves are on the ground. Families are moving indoors and preparing for the winter; our family, your family and the mouse family. We all grew up watching cartoons and listening to stories of cute little furry creatures, Mickey, Minnie and friends. Now, as homeowners we prefer to watch our mice on tv or collect ceramic replicas rather than finding their droppings or watching them scoot along our baseboards. Last month, Martha had a buyer back out of a deal because the inspector found mouse droppings inside of the furnace. The buyer, who was used to condo living, was horrified, even though the inspector assured her it was a common problem and easily fixed. Here are some of the inspector's recommendations combined with my own experience for keeping Mickey and friends out. My next article will show you the safest and most effective ways to evict the little guys once they have decided your place is more convenient than wintering in Florida. Make it harder for the little guys to get in. Take a walk around your house, paying particular attention to the space between the siding and the top of the foundation, the places where pipes and vents penetrate the exterior, door thresholds, and ground level or below grade windows. There should be no gaps. If there is a gap of ¼" or more, you can be assured that a mouse family will find a way to invite themselves in. You can fill any gaps you find with foam rope, a foam sealer, steel wool, caulking or better yet, steel wool combined with caulk. Foam Rope: I have used foam rope, which is available in several diameters, to stuff between my house's siding and the foundation. Expanding Foam Sealers: I am not fond of expanding foam sealers. It does not always behave properly, although it is useful for larger gaps than I would use caulk for. Also, when it says on the can that it expands a lot, believe it. Steel Wool: Some mice love steel wool because they can snag it with their nails and pull it aside unless it is really wedged into the crevice or hole. Try combining it with caulk for a permanent fix. Caulk: I caulk around pipes and vents To ensure a good seal when using caulk, remove any old caulking and clean the surfaces before applying the new caulk. I favor acrylic latex caulk. It lasts a long time, stays stuck to porous surfaces, remains flexible, and it is easy to wash off of my hands (I always end up using a wet finger to finish something the caulk.) Unlike most silicone caulks, it is also paintable. I use a wet rag and tongue depressors tool back the bead and to make sure the


seal is both complete and neat. I think a messy caulking job is the sign of an amateur, (although many so-called pros are pretty amateurish.) If the siding needs to be vented do not seal it up completely. I use metal vents to keep out the vermin while allowing the specified airflow. Remember: Do not use any material that mice can gnaw on, such as plastic sheeting or screening, wood or rubber. © 2007 Complete Books Publishing, Inc.

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