At New Leaf Crawlspace Solutions, we see a fair number of crawlspaces that have been completely destroyed by raccoons or opossums in the Portland and Vancouver area. For most home owners, your crawlspace is not a place you normally go. In fact, many years can go by without anyone ever seeing the area beneath your home. During this time, many issues can go hidden without being addressed, such as rodent infestation, standing water and worst of all, raccoon and opossum damages.
Raccoons are not just a rural problem. Increasingly in the Portland area, raccoons can be seen in neighborhoods searching for food and shelter, mostly at night. There is no question that there are many of them around, no matter where you live, but how do they get in and how do you know if you have them?
Nearly all raccoon infestations start with a compromised foundation vent. These are the square vents in your foundation with 1/4 inch screen on them. This screen is usually held by just a little bit of glue during installation and can wear out over time and leave the screen wide open for nuisance wildlife to come on in. Raccoons are also smart and can sometimes push on the screen to gain access. Once inside, a raccoon will usually search out a heat source (your air ducts). They will rip those ducts pretty easily if you have flexible ducting. Next, they pull down insulation to nest in and leave a contamination all over. A raccoon infested crawlspace can look like a bomb went off down there.
To know if you might have a raccoon underneath your home, there are a couple of things you should be looking for. First, walk around your home and look at the foundation screens to ensure they are intact. Sometimes screens are placed in areas you cannot see like underneath a deck, so don’t assume you have checked everywhere. Next, a dog or a cat will definitely be able to smell them and will start acting strange. Most commonly, a dog will bark or growl at heating vent or something like that. You might also notice a smell coming from your ducts. Sometimes, you can hear them rustling around at night. All of these are common signs of a problem, but the best way to check is just to open your crawlspace hatch and look for downed insulation. Of course, the easiest way is just to call New Leaf Pest Control for a free inspection and we would be happy to check things our for you.
But, the real pertinent question is if insurance will cover this mess. In our experience, the answer is “yes” most of the time. Every home insurance policy is different, but most cover this issue. An insurance adjustor generally will need to determine if the infestation was “sudden and accidental”, which is what insurance is for. If this is an issue that has been going on for a very long time, they might not cover it, but generally they will. An adjustor is going to want to see pictures proving that the damages are in fact from a raccoon (footprints, fecal matter, etc.). At New Leaf Crawlspace Solutions, we work with insurance adjustors and will help you with your claim. So, if you think you might have an unwanted nuisance wildlife issue, please give us a call and we would be happy to help.