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Help! Something is eating my house!
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Gadfly
Picture of Lisa
posted
OK I realize that this whole thread is not going to give Steve the warm fuzzies about rural living in the Eastern US woods, but I have to ask anyway because pretty much any time I've had a weird issue like this, someone here has the answer!

Some critter appears to be eating my house. This is a new one on me, and apparently on google too, because I've searched and can't really find anything quite like this.

We have wood trim around our front door. Something is gnawing it away. Not termites - it's at ground level, right at say groundhog or beaver or bunny or possibly squirrel height. I noticed it maybe a month ago - it wasn't bad then, so I sprayed some bitter apple on it and hoped for the best. They have now branched out to 3 separate areas and have done a number on the spot they originally started....It's probably still at the point where I can sand it, paint over it, and call it character but if it gets much worse, I'll need to replace the whole trim piece. So I need to figure out what is doing this and how to stop it ASAP!

So we live about a half mile from a creek - I wouldn't think beavers would go so far. My guess is groundhogs because we have like a zillion of them. But we've had them for years and they've never done anything like this. Possibly squirrels - I've seen more squirrels this year than I ever have -- I think typically the hawks keep the squirrel population down around here.

Any other guesses? And any thoughts on how to stop it? (Aluminum foil? rat poison (ugh!)? I could try wire fencing off the whole front porch since we don't use that door anyway?)

Here's some photos (ignore the awful paint on the door threshhold, as I'm currently prepping it for repainting.)

This is the area where they started and have kept going:



Here are two other spot where they've apparently been sampling from the buffet:



And here's the whole door area for context. They are chewing on the wood trim pieces to the left and right of the door, between the door and the sidelights.

 
Posts: 4087 | Location: Suburban Philly, PA | Registered: 30 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
"The nation’s floundering government is now administered by a gangster regime."

George Will
Minor Deity
Picture of Piano*Dad
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That looks like scratching/gnawing, like a raccoon or some other similar-sized critter.

But that area of a door frame often suffers from dry rot. Does the wood in that area feel soft and pliable. If you push in with your finger, could you punch through the surface?
 
Posts: 10168 | Location: Williamsburg, VA | Registered: 19 July 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
Picture of wtg
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I would get an inexpensive wireless battery operated outdoor security camera and set it up to see what's chewing that door frame.

You don't need cloud storage, you just need something that will take a pic or a short video and that will alert you on your smart phone that something's out there.


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Outrage is warranted. But outrage unaccompanied by analysis is a danger in itself.

Bazootiehead-in-training



 
Posts: 29799 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Gadfly
Picture of Lisa
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No dry rot - the wood is fine. Since I'm in painting mode anyway, I sanded it down and tried filling the bad spot with some wood putty. Maybe they'll hate the taste and go away. But the suggestion of the camera is a good one - I might try that. We also should probably call to get rid of the groundhogs - we've been living in peace with them for years but they've been multiplying and it's probably time to "move them along" -- I just feel bad about it because I know it doesn't end well for the groundhog family when we call the exterminator/trapper.
 
Posts: 4087 | Location: Suburban Philly, PA | Registered: 30 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
(self-titled) semi-posting lurker
Minor Deity
Picture of ShiroKuro
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My guess is squirrels. We have this problem too actually (Front post on porch Frowner and I’ve seen one — and chased it away!

We tried applying it with Chinese mustard, that worked for a bit. Then Mr. SK ties a rope around the post, on the idea that anything round might be taken for a snake. That sort of helps, but we need a better solution...

Sorry this isn’t helping you!


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My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 14930 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
Picture of jodi
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Squirrels. They were eating the cedar shingles on our garage in La Grande. There is a powder you can Get that you mix with Your paint and cover the area. Think it has capsaicin in it. I got it at the paint store.


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Smiler Jodi
http://todayatmydesk.weebly.com

 
Posts: 19204 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
Picture of QuirtEvans
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Or replace it with the never-decays-plastic-that-looks-like-wood, the name of which I can never remember.
 
Posts: 44501 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
Picture of wtg
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Squirrels chew plastic, too. I have no idea why.


--------------------------------
Outrage is warranted. But outrage unaccompanied by analysis is a danger in itself.

Bazootiehead-in-training



 
Posts: 29799 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Gadfly
Picture of Lisa
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Funny - when we redid the stucco, we put that plastic trim pretty much everywhere except inside the doors. So the trim around the outside of the door area is Azek and they don't seem to be eating that. The trim inside the door between the door and sidelights is wood and that seem to be what they prefer. So maybe Quirt is onto something. But I am lazy and not sure I'm a good enough carpenter for that and my contractor is busy and probably won't come out just to do such a small job. So I probably won't replace it now if I can get away with it.

I will call the paint store tomorrow and look for the anti-squirrel paint. In the meantime, PD's post about dryrot got me thinking -- while the wood where the chewing is happening is fine, I poked at the wood at the bottom where it meets the threshhold and it isn't looking pretty. After digging out all the rotten wood I now have pretty much a crater at the bottom of the trim. It was wet - like really wet - in there and I have been running a space heater pointed at it to dry it out. I will try painting on my anti-rot wood hardener stuff and filling it in with wood putty. But I feel like this is the project that will never end. (I started the whole "paint the threshholds" thing because one of my other threshholds was rotting out and I had to dig out all the rotten wood, and do the wood hardener + wood putty thing -- because it's a deep fill, it took like a week to fill it (you fill a little, let it dry, fill a little more, etc.) Now I have to start that all over again with the front door. Ooof.

Oh well -better to find it now than when it would be beyond repair and need replacement.
 
Posts: 4087 | Location: Suburban Philly, PA | Registered: 30 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
(self-titled) semi-posting lurker
Minor Deity
Picture of ShiroKuro
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quote:
Squirrels chew plastic, too.


I was just to write this very comment!

As to why, could it be because they're "teething" all the time and the chewing isn't for eating but just to keep their teeth from getting too long? Rats are the same, right??

If so, then chewing plastic would be just as effective as chewing wood.


--------------------------------
My piano recordings at Box.Net: https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

 
Posts: 14930 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
Picture of LL
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Up at my eaves I hear pecking. Knew it had to be a bird.

Caught a woodpecker and banged inside with a stick.

Other side I expected the same thing but nope a very very small bird.

I throw small rocks near them to make them fly off.

New this fall.

Old house. Old wood.

Ages ago squirrels chewed right through the soffit edge and lived inside, babies and all, before I could have a heart capture them.


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The earth laughs in flowers

 
Posts: 16280 | Location: north of boston | Registered: 16 May 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Minor Deity
Picture of LL
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Oh, chipmunks can do it too.


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The earth laughs in flowers

 
Posts: 16280 | Location: north of boston | Registered: 16 May 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Has Achieved Nirvana
Picture of Steve Miller
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Lisa, if the area is wet you need to figure out where the water is coming from and correct that before making a repair.


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Life is short. Play with your dog.

 
Posts: 30315 | Location: Yorba Linda, CA | Registered: 23 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Gadfly
Picture of Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Miller:
Lisa, if the area is wet you need to figure out where the water is coming from and correct that before making a repair.


Not really sure why it's so wet. The trim is cheap untreated pine and they didn't paint or prime the cut ends or the backside (it's the same trim that was on the whole house pre stucco repair). My guess is that water is hitting the threshold and being wicked up into the cut ends. We had a very wet week last week and the rain was pounding that side of the house. Seems to only be one area, to the right of the door. The symmetrical trim to the left of the door is fine. Maybe there's more of a gap there or better caulk or something. At any rate, I'll be filling it in with a epoxy-type wood filler so hopefully that will put a stop to it if it's wicking from the bottom. The whole door is under a portico that is definitely flashed correctly (I personally watched all the flashing get done during the stucco repairs) so I can't imagine it's coming down from the top and it's only the bottom couple inches that are rotted. I think it has to be wicking up.
 
Posts: 4087 | Location: Suburban Philly, PA | Registered: 30 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Beatification Candidate
Picture of big al
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One other reason for the gnawing that occurred to me is salt. If you salt the stoop for ice and snow removal, some may have wicked up into the wood near the bottom. Various rodents such as squirrels or groundhogs will lick or gnaw surfaces that contain salt when they crave it.

I rather like the idea of a motion-activated wildlife camera to identify the culprits. I had considered buying one to see what was eating my garden plants, but the answer became all too clear when my wife went out the back door and saw one deer in our yard and then another in the middle of the garden. The one in the garden had no trouble leaping over the garden fence to make its exit when it saw her.

Big Al


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Money seems to buy the most happiness when you give it away.

Why does everything have to be so complicated, all in the name of convenience. -ShiroKuro

 
Posts: 6558 | Location: Western PA | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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