Squirrel Electrical Problem - Fire Risk, Wires

Squirrels can cause electrical problems by gnawing on electrical wires. This can also create a potential fire hazard.

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Well, I have a problem alright, but I am not sure you can help me. Please try anyway. My daughter and I just bought a very old 2-story house, on a major highway, but out in the country. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we had what I think was a mama squirrel with babies in the house; not in the attic, but between the first and second floors. We did something when we moved in (still not sure what, but possibly locked the cat entrance on the kitchen door) that separated the mama from her babies. The first 2 or 3 nights we were here, there was much scurrying around in the walls and frantic chewing, chewing, chewing. Then the overhead lights downstairs failed. We were sitting at the kitchen table and heard an animal get in from one corner of the room, and then heard squeaking in the ceiling directly above the table where the kitchen overhead light was.

I went on line and learned more than I ever wanted to know about squirrels, and contacted a "critter-man" out of Montgomery, Alabama from a company listed on your web-site. My contractor got an electrician right out, and he informed us that it was squirrels or rats and they had chewed through an electrical wire between the floors. Some of the wiring had been replaced prior to my purchase, and the upstairs has its own updated electrical panel, but of course the damaged wire was some of the oldest. Long story short, the electrician was "scared" of it, and packed up and left in the middle of the inspection. I was not here at the time. When I found out he left because he was scared of it, I immediately contacted another electrician, an older man, who came out right away, determined which two rooms the broken wire ran between, and bypassed that room with a temporary wire and got all of my lights except the one room working again. I had been freaking out until he came out and explained it all to my satisfaction and worked very competently and easily to get me up and going again, but he was in agreement that I needed to solve the squirrel problem before finishing the electrical problem.

Although I was a few miles further out than he normally worked (I am almost halfway between Montgomery and Birmingham) the critter man came out very promptly. He went out on the roof, inside the attic spaces, and walked around the house. He agreed that it was most likely squirrels. I have many trees right around the house, including one black walnut and several pecan trees, and you could see the squirrels running around everywhere. He said that for $389 he would spend two weeks trapping the squirrels at their exit holes. He would put up traps and come out every other day to check them and carry off the ones caught. For $839, he would close up all the holes around the house, using steel mesh and screws, and he would guarantee that work for one year. Also, for $85 per month for the next 11 months, he would come back once a month and take care of all the squirrels, mice, spiders, hornets, roaches, and snakes. He would also clean out the animal poop in the attic and de-odorize. The most I've ever paid for pest control was $35 a month, but roaches were about the only thing that covered. Snakes, mice and hornets got my attention because there were visible signs of all three having been around, so I signed the contract for the monthly treatment and gave him a check for the $389 get-rid-of-the-squirrels deal. I did not at that point know how much it was going to cost me for the electrical work to be completed, so I told him I was a little leary on writing the $839, since my contractor had been giving me good prices and could probably do the same thing. He said that was fine, if I wanted to go that route, and walked around the house pointing out the places that needed covering, and said if I wanted him to, he would check it out when they did the work to be sure that it all got done properly. He was a young man, but very polite and competent acting. He did track a large amount of roof tar on my brand new carpet when he checked the roof, but hey, stuff happens, right?

He put up a trap on that Tuesday and came back on Thursday to check it. I thought he would be back Saturday, but he didn't show, so I said okay, no week-ends then. Only he did not come back until Wednesday. When questioned, he showed me his arms and leg where he had fallen off a customer's roof and luckily got off with only some severe skin scrapes. He found a whole herd of chipmunks under the back part of the house, caught one adult and one baby squirrel, (no chipmunks) and said he would return on Friday. That was LAST Friday, this is Friday again, and I have not seen or heard from him again.

I finally tried calling him today and got his voice mail. The company is out of Marietta, Georgia, and the Montgomery office is his truck. I don't know if he has fallen off another roof, or just written me off. I left a voice message but have not received a call-back. His trap is still here. Technically speaking, his two weeks are up, but I never got two weeks of service. My carpenters put steel mesh all around the house, but the ones doing the work were not real sure what they were doing, so I have no idea if it has been done right or not.

I pulled a muscle really bad when moving, so I have not yet gotten back up to speed. I am 68 years old and don't need to be climbing ladders and crawling around roofs anyway, but would if I had a clue what I was supposed to be looking at. I do not intend to honor that contract for monthly service if this is the kind of service I can expect. But I hate to call them up bitching about my problems, if he has had another bad accident. I turned my two cats out into the yard, and have seen many fewer squirrels since then. But I don't know if that is because of the cats or because all the pecans have been collected and they are bedding down for the winter. But on your web-site, you said squirrels make absolutely no noise, other than chewing. And we definitely heard some very excited babies, when their mama finally got to them.

So what the heck was in my ceiling eating my electrical wire, where are they now, can I finish closing my house up, (the carpenters think they closed everything except where the trap is, and they left steel mesh for that), and when can I get the electrician back in here? And I guess those are all hypothetical questions, because I don't know how you would know, any better than I do. But what about the critter-man? Have I been scammed? Do I call the Marietta office and say don't bother, I found someone else who shows up, or do I wait to see if I get a monthly bill from them, and then yell about it? I know this was a long email, but as you can see, my problem is rather long. Thanks for listening anyway.

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