Maybe you noticed him around the house and thought nothing of it. It is just a cute little raccoon and it doesn’t seem to be bothering anything, right? Then one day, you noticed that a screen in your foundation vent was open and watched that cute little raccoon run right through it and under your house. Deciding you better check this out, you crouch down and look through the vent to find your subfloor insulation in tatters. Air ducts are hanging, shredded to pieces and the vapor barrier is littered with feces. Unfortunately, this happens all too frequently in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, WA area when a raccoon or opossum get in your crawl space and they can do an immense amount of damage. So, your crawl space is destroyed and you need to know what to do next.
How To Clean Up After A Raccoon
The contamination left behind from a raccoon infestation is pretty significant. In addition to the damages, a whole lot of feces and urine will also probably exist in the crawlspace. Extreme caution should be used in handling this. Be sure to have a respirator, gloves, safety goggles and some coveralls. The best way to clean up urine and feces is to cut the vapor barrier (black plastic ground cover) into strips and roll it up (kind of like rolling up a sleeping bag) and then stuff it in contractor bags before hauling it out. Once all of the vapor barrier has been bagged, it is time to address the insulation.
Hopefully, not all the insulation has been damaged. Typically, raccoons will focus on a specific area of the crawlspace and tear down sections of insulation for bedding and leave the rest intact. Bag up all the insulation that is touching the ground and bag it (similar to how you bagged the vapor barrier) and remove it. Insulation that is hanging, but not touching the ground, might be able to be hung back up as long as it is dry and doesn’t not appear to have any contamination on it. Use nylon twine and a staple gun and hang the insulation back up using a zigzag pattern with the twine on the joists.
Next, take a look at your HVAC ducts (be sure to turn off your furnace first). If you have metal ducts that are disconnected, you can reconnect them with metal tape and straps to hold them up. Usually metal ducts are not damaged too bad from raccoons or opossums. Flex ducts are more common in newer homes and typically have damages. A flex duct is a flexible duct with an outer plastic membrane, insulation and an inner plastic membrane. Smaller holes to the membrane can be taped up using HVAC tape that is made for flex ducts. Larger holes or ducts that have been severely damaged, must be replaced. These can be purchased in 25 foot sections at most large hardware stores.
Once all the contaminated materials have been removed, it is time to decontaminate the space, ridding it of bacteria and other nasty stuff. We use a product called “Bacazap” with a ULV fogger. If you are the DIY type, you can probably do a bleach solution applied with a garden sprayer.
That would be some helpful tips on how to remove the contaminated materials. Putting all the materials back in can be a bit more complicated. The good news is that most insurance companies cover wildlife damages to crawlspaces. At New Leaf Crawl Space Solutions, we handle insurance claims all the time. So, if you have had the unfortunate experience of having a raccoon or opossum invade your house and cause significant damages, let us handle the problem for you and restore your crawl space. Please give us a call to see how we can help you.
Photo on Foter.com