“You know I excluded 62 entry holes at a hundred year old church last week,” I said with a smile.
“That’s not residential,” Joe said without skipping a beat.
“Well, uh, yeah…”
“We still hold the one day residential record.”
Produced on September 5, 13 2019 in Gladstone, ORby Joe and Grace and their family
I am Wilderness Security Guide, the customer service character in charge of rodent services for Storysold: Pest Control. And this is the story about a record and making it right.
After I inspected Joe and Grace’s crawlspace and the crawlspace of his adjacent rental property, I found a number of active entry holes and a lot of possible ones:
When my initial inspection concluded, Joe and I talked in his backyard.
JOE: So what do you think we should do?
STORYSOLD: I don’t know…on one hand, I like to think we could work together. You’ve already been trapping the rats…the hard part will be to keep your home and rental from being an open highway to any wild creature looking for a warm place to hole up.
JOE: Do you do that kind of work?
STORYSOLD: Yes, but you have a lot of entry holes…I’m not sure if I can 100% “rat proof” it.
While we talked, Joe often stopped to talk with his kids who were playing in the yard. They seemed like a real wonderful family, and I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to help them. And I didn’t mean, simply placing some stations or traps to freshen up every month. I wanted to make a real effort to hang the CLOSED TO RATS sign on their home. Gladstone was expanding like the rest of the Metro, and that meant new construction, and new construction meant the demolition of the old, and that meant the ratonauts of the neighborhood would be out, looking for new territory.
Our conversation ended with our promise to email Joe an action plan and quote for an epic day of exclusion, spanning both properties. A few days after I sent it, Joe agreed to deal us in.
Chapter 2 – The Epic Exclusion Day
After I arrived and set up shop in the driveway, I took a hard look at the entry holes I was there to seal up, wall off, and block to keep rodents from entering the home.
Deep in the crawlspace—mask, respirator, and jumpsuit on—I looked through the swath of space the rats were running through between the main crawlspace, add on crawlspace, and the mudroom. It felt like standing on the three corners of Nevada, Oregon, and California, I could reach out and put a finger in all three rooms.
“Well team,” I laughed. “Today may be that day when my mouth wrote a check we can’t cash. I don’t know how I’m going to block all that space…They haven’t invented force fields yet.”
After a long hard look at The Three Corners belly down in the dirt, I decided to start on the other side of the crawlspace. It wasn’t sure what it was, maybe at one time it was crawlspace for two people to use at once? I didn’t know, but I engaged my creative engine and found a way to wall it off.
I used a mixture of screen and plywood because the exterior foundation was too rough to simply cover it with plywood. I added gravel, mostly for looks. The hardware cloth and foam should easily do the job.
Next, I tackled The Three Corners. “Proper planning is overrated,” my teammate Pest Predator observed as I studied the wall from the mudroom. “Turn off your inner computer and use the force Luke.”
I know from experience “use the force” or “follow your heart” or “go with your gut” isn’t always the best advice. But it was this time! Once I cut a couple of long pieces of plywood to fit the swath of space, a plan began to fall together like a natural force of action.
Before foam, and after foam…
I’m pretty sure foam technology was invented by NASA or stole from an alien civilization only NASA knows about (same, same).
I left the add-on corner open in case a rat or two was still hanging out, watching my show. I didn’t want to wall them in like something out of a Poe poem.
Here’s a good shot of my plywood wall that now runs along back >
The Great Foam adventure continued in the mudroom. I have to thank Joe for his comment about the color. “Oops. Sorry.” The orange is a little too SE Portland. From that moment on, I’ve only used the professional grade Black Purr foam they sell at the pest store.
After I finished The Three Corners, I enjoyed a break from the sweat and dirt in the crawlspace and I built two new, custom crawlspace doors:
And that’s why they call it a “skill saw.” I was pleased how well these doors came together. It was dumb luck that I decided to buy three latches instead of two. The top one there couldn’t be made to swing outward and be fitted tightly too.
Next up were the many broken vents in your home and the rental. I fixed all the ones I documented in the first service story, plus some. Here’s shots of a few of them:
Rat Catcher vs. Cable Guy: “I win.”
Sealing the gap around vent and duct >
The two most interesting surprises that day were: (a) this old “door” wasn’t secure, so I secured it with nails and a screw from outside, and foamed it inside >
(b) when I first inspected this, all I saw was a crack. It wasn’t until I pushed on the concrete block—and it moved—did I realize there was a highway running from the backyard, under the siding, and over that space between the joists. My solution was a little wonky, but it will keep the rodents out >
By the time I went to work on the mudroom door, Joe was home from work. I hope my conversation wasn’t too jangled. Our human hadn’t eaten much, and he was starting to lose brain function. The good news was, thanks to Joe’s recommendation to reuse the old door sweep over the metal flashing the mudroom was now 93.2% more secure!
The last thing I did was count all the entry holes I’d excluded that day. Without a doubt, it was my one-day record: 22 entry holes (give or take a few)!
The last thing I told Joe that day was, “Give me a call if any of my exclusions fail. I’ll be happy to return and make it right.”
I drove away believing all the rat holes were now CLOSED for business. I imagined Joe would set his traps in the crawlspaces and maybe catch one, or two, but I didn’t think I’d be back.
So goes the best laid plans of rats and rat catchers.
Chapter 3 – The Mystery Crawlspace