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Which Animals Cause the Most Damage to Your Home and Foundation?

August 6, 2020

An animal can cause lasting damage to your home and foundation. It can chew up electrical wiring inside your walls, destroy ducts, or damage critical drainage systems. On top of this, wild animals and rodents are frequently carriers of disease and could pose health risks to all occupants. 

However, your home does not have the same level of risk from all types of animals. 

Which animals can cause the most damage to your home or foundation? To discover the worst culprits, let's rank each animal invader by the potential amount of damage and the likelihood of damage.

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Skunk Damage to Your Home or Foundation

Even though some skunks have become domestic animals, a wild skunk can be very damaging to your property. 

A skunk's spray can be detected up to 1.5 miles away, so just think how potent it would be if it sprays in your basement or crawl space. The smell could last for months, and each time it rains, the horrible, eye-watering odor will become reinvigorated.

The effect goes beyond making your home an unpleasant place to live. The smell will permeate furnishings, clothes, and appliances like your HVAC system.

Rodent Damage to Your Home or Foundation

If rodents get into your home, you're facing more than just the scream factor of a critter encounter. Rodents carry disease and can be a health hazard. They can also cause significant damage to your home. 

Mice and rats will build nests in crawl spaces, damage foundations, leave droppings everywhere, and gnaw on anything including walls, electrical wiring, or belongings. If they die in your walls, crawl space, or basement, the decaying carcass will smell and create additional health issues. 

Each winter, about 21 million homes in the U.S. have rodents try to move inside. By sealing cracks in your foundation and repairing any gaps, you can protect your property and your health.

Snake Damage to Your Home or Foundation

The only thing worse than snakes on a plane is snakes in a crawl space or basement. Their shape makes it easy for them to slither through small cracks. They could even make their way through your ventilation ducts into the main floors of your home. 

Not only is it shocking to find a snake in your house, but the animals could attract damaging predators. Plus, venomous snakes, such as copperheads or rattlers, are an obvious health risk. 

Raccoon Damage to Your Home or Foundation

If a raccoon gets into your basement, crawl space, or attic, it will tear up insulation, damage wiring, destroy ducts, and use your house like a latrine. Plus, there's the risk that it carries a disease like rabies. 

If you have unsealed holes in your home, you could be at risk to find these crafty critters inside. Recently, a northern Ohio homeowner called animal control after discovering a raccoon in her basement, and at a high school near Orlando, FL, a raccoon got indoors and was discovered stuck inside the school's vending machine. 

Bear Damage to Your Home or Foundation

Bears go where there's food. If a bear has been regularly getting into neighborhood trash cans or bird feeders, it may try to push its way through a screen door to nab a tasty meal from your kitchen. Once inside, they can obviously cause a significant amount of damage to personal property. 

In some states, bears can be more problematic. Last year in Colorado, there were 517 reports of bears entering people’s homes. To bear-proof your house, Colorado Parks and Wildlife suggests installing round doorknobs that bears can't push or pull open. Sturdy bars or gates on lower-level windows can also be a good idea.

Deer Damage to Your Home or Foundation

If a deer is too comfortable around people, it could become a nuisance. Unfortunately, the outdoor problem can lead to indoor damage. 

A deer could see its reflection in a glass door, become disoriented, and crash through the glass to wreak havoc inside your home. Alternatively, your basement could seem like a safe protected space for a baby fawn, causing it to get stuck inside your home. 

One family reported that its homeowner's insurance policy didn't cover the cost of damage after a deer got trapped indoors. The home insurance company said that the policy would have covered a car crashing into the house, but insurance coverage does not extend to deer damage. 

Squirrel Damage to Your Home or Foundation

A squirrel's smaller size means it's more likely to find a way into your home via ductwork, your chimney, or a gap in your foundation.

The damage from a squirrel in your house could be significant. It could chew up the siding, damage wires, make a nest of babies in your basement, and spread disease. 

Expect the level of animal damage to increase the longer the problem exists. For example, discovering a squirrel when returning to a seasonal summer home could mean you'll have much more damage than if a squirrel got into your house while you were out for the day.

Chipmunk Damage to Your Home or Foundation

The small size of chipmunks means they can easily get into your house via small gaps in your foundation. Plus, chipmunks can burrow 10 to 30 feet deep. Even if there isn't a visible gap along the exterior groundline, the animals could make an underground tunnel to get into your home. 

If a chipmunk gets inside, it could gnaw into your baseboard, burrow through your walls, and spread bacteria, Lyme disease, and even the plague. A foundation repair expert can help you to create a pest-proof barrier in your basement or crawl space.  

Groundhog Damage to Your Home or Foundation

Groundhogs like to burrow. They can create tunnels below your home that are 45 feet long and five feet deep. These holes can cause significant damage.

The problems start with water damage. The groundhog tunnels can cause water to flow directly underneath your home. This can disrupt the existing water balance of your foundation, and excessive drainage problems could occur in severe weather. 

If you have groundhog tunnels, the first sign you might see is that you have increased moisture and humidity in your basement or crawl space. This could cause mold problems within your house. 

Over time, the ongoing water patterns below your home will cause erosion of the soil structure. Eventually, the growing void could lead to foundation failure.

Pigeon Damage to Your Home or Foundation

In many cities and urban areas, the pigeon population can be significant. When pigeons build their nests, they can damage your roof and gutters. This could mean you end up with a basement flood because of damaged drainage or rain leaks.

Plus there's the pigeon excrement. Each year, 100 pigeons can make up to 4,800 pounds of waste. All of that is landing on your roof, porch, cement patios, and driveways. Not only is it unsightly, but it's potentially spreading pathogens.

Bat Damage to Your Home or Foundation

Bats won't cause structural damage if they're found roosting in your attic, but they will go to the bathroom all over everything. This can have dire consequences. 

First, bats can be a dangerous health threat. The animals carry rabies, and the droppings, called guano, can cause a respiratory infection called histoplasmosis. Plus, parasites that live on the bats could spread to human occupants. 

Bat droppings also can cause mold growth and can attract additional bugs to your home. After an infestation, a home may need to be sanitized, and insulation may need to be replaced. 

Woodpecker Damage to Your Home or Foundation

Woodpecker damage is one of the consequences of an insect infestation. 

If insects are inside the structure of your home, a woodpecker will treat it like a tree and hammer holes into the siding or shingles. This could mean you'll need to repair or replace exterior boards and siding. 

Woodpecker damage could also lead to a moisture problem or rain damage. If your exterior frame is perforated with woodpecker holes, water could start to run down inside your walls. This can result in damaged drywall, electrical problems, mold growth, and attracting additional bugs. 

Vulture Damage to Your Home or Foundation

Vultures can cause an unexpected array of home problems, They're attracted to vinyl and plastic, and a large group can ruin vent seals, window caulking, roof shingles, and pool covers. Plus, the feces can be a health concern. 

Last year, a Florida man faced off against a flock of vultures who were damaging a screened-in pool area. "They ripped all the screens out. They threw up. They pooped all over the place," said the owner.

It can be difficult to keep flying pests away from your home, but managing your home's ecosystem could help remove potential food sources. For example, a sealed, dry basement won't attract insect damage or other pests that eventually lead to potential food sources for larger animals. 

A free inspection from the country's leading foundation repair experts can help you learn what steps you can take to secure your foundation, basement, or crawl space, and protect your home.