How Bats and Rodents Can Harm Your Insulation

Bats love houses as much as people do. If given a chance, they will happily move into your attic space. The quiet, dark, relatively warm area is like a man-made cave. 

Bats can fit through an opening as small as ⅜”. Bats can enter your home through gaps around windows, soffits, and sometimes even take up residence behind the shutters. 

To get and keep bats out of your house, you need professional help. A good exterminator will make sure your home is sealed tight. 

Once the bats are locked out, you’ll want to repair any damage they may have done. Again, this is not a do-it-yourselfer job. Even if you aren’t put off by the thought of removing piles of bat guano, consider the fact that those disgusting piles can also harbor disease.

If you save money cleaning your attic only to spend it on medical bills, that isn’t a win.

Don’t try to take care of this yourself. Contact SoDak Insulation for more information about getting your home back to pre-bat condition. They’ll customize a plan that fits your needs.

birds in attic insulation

How Do Bats and Rodents Damage Your Insulation?

Most rodents chew through everything. Rats and mice will chew through walls, insulation, and even electrical wires. 

Bats are not like other rodents. They may push through gaps or rotted siding to gain entry. But they don’t chew their way in like rats. 

So, if bats don’t do damage by chewing, what do they do?

They poop. Unfortunately, even chewing pests poop.

Bats and rodents poop a lot. In fact, controlling for their size, bats poop more than any other mammal. Bats in your attic will quickly result in large amounts of bat guano. 

The smell of all that feces will permeate the entire house. 

Because the guano is protected from the elements (by your house), it won’t decompose the way it would outside. It will release moisture, which can soak through your insulation, ceiling, and walls. 

All that nasty moisture from urine and feces can pool and puddle, running down walls and ductwork. It can cause visible staining on walls and ceilings.

The guano piles get heavier as they grow. Enough guano can buckle ventilation ducting. 

As though that weren’t nasty enough, the guano can also be home to bacteria and parasites. 

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection. The fungus lives in bat guano, and spores float up into the air when the guano is disturbed. If you breathe in the spores, you can get very sick. 

They can make you and your pets sick. People are often allergic to rodent dander. Bats can also have parasites on their bodies, called bat bugs. 

Are There Bats or Rodents in Your Attic?

If you don’t inspect your attic on a regular basis (and who does?), you probably won’t know about uninvited guests until signs of them reach your living space.  

Keep an eye out for these signs of an infestation:

  • You or your pets may hear them. Dogs and other household pets often have more sensitive hearing than humans, so pay attention if they seem to be pointing at a wall or ceiling. If you hear scratching or squeaking, check your attic or have a professional check it.
  • You can smell feces or ammonia. If bats or rodents are using your attic as a bathroom, the odor will eventually make its way through your whole house.
  • You see bats or rodents near your home.  If they appear to be flying and landing close to your house, or if you find dead bats or rodents on your property, it’s time for an inspection.

Bats like to burrow in your insulation. They travel toward the heated surface, such as the floor of your attic, since the ceiling underneath is in a heated space. 

raccoon in attic

So, How Do We Fix This Problem? 

Before worrying about clean-up, the bats and rodents need to be evicted.

If you know how they are accessing the space, you can apply an exclusion door. This will allow the bats to leave but not to come back in.

Take a piece of netting that is big enough to loosely cover the point of entry. Tack down the netting across the top and sides, but leave the bottom loose. 

The bats will be able to fly out through the gap at the bottom, between the net and the house. When they return, they will not be able to get back in.

Make sure there are no gaps, rotten, or other potential entry points in your attic space, or you may find yourself with bats again.

If crawling around your attic and inspecting every inch of the space doesn’t appeal to you, consider hiring a professional.

After you’ve taken measures to make sure you won’t be hosting any more bats, your attic will need a thorough clean-up. 

  1. Protect yourself with a face mask, goggles, gloves, and long clothing. Remember the spores that you don’t want to inhale. Sweeping or using your home vacuum is not recommended.
  2. Use a sprayer to gently dampen the droppings. This will help keep the dust down.
  3. Clean the droppings with soapy water and paper towels or other cloth that you don’t mind throwing away.
  4. Disinfect all surfaces involved. Use a 10% bleach solution. Spray areas lightly and let the solution sit for ten minutes. Then rinse and dry.
  5. Insulation cannot be cleaned. Remove any contaminated insulation. Secure the insulation in garbage bags before removing it from your attic to avoid contaminating other areas of your house. 
  6. Dispose of the gloves, mask, and cleaning cloths, or wash them in very hot water. 
  7. Shower. You’re going to need it.

Getting rid of other rodents might be a whole other ordeal. A professional might be the best way to go.

After your attic is bat-proof and clean, you will need to replace the insulation the bats destroyed with new insulation. Insulating your attic is a more DIY-friendly project than evicting or cleaning up after bats. 

Don’t assume the DIY route is the least expensive or most efficient. Get a free inspection from SoDak Insulation. We are experienced at returning your home to pre-bat condition.


Tips on Increasing Attic Insulation Efficiency

Attic insulation efficiency can be your best friend when it comes to lower heating and cooling bills year-round. Plus, when your home is more energy-efficient, you lower your carbon footprint, reduce energy use, and help to improve the environment.

It’s even more crucial in older homes to stay on top of attic insulation efficiency as the house continues to age. 

SoDak Insulation and Attic Restoration is your go-to source for attic insulation efficiency, especially if you’re preparing your home for the real estate market, or if your home has a few decades of memories under its belt.

Visit our website today for a complete description of our services, and a free inspection report.

attic insulation efficiency

How Efficient is Your Insulation?

If your home went up before the 1970’s energy crisis, it’s likely your original insulation could use an update. 

Attic insulation efficiency uses a R-scale to measure effectiveness and quality. Homes built in the 1970’s or before typically show an R-11  or lower rating. Current insulation standards on newer homes require an R-38 or higher rating, depending on region and climate.

It’s a good idea to take a peek into your attic space and make several observations:

  • Note the condition of the current insulation. Are there bare patches or between the joists? Do you notice any evidence of pests like bats, mice, raccoons, or other critters? You’ll need a plan to clean up existing messes like bat guano before updating or adding to your insulation.
  • What type of insulation do you have? Grey material in small clusters is probably mineralized wool. You may also have insulation batting–the kind that comes in a large roll you cut to fit between your ceiling joists. You might also notice loose, clumpy material piled between your joists. This blown insulation comes in a variety of materials like fiberglass, or cellulose.
  • Discover whether there is a vapor barrier to guard against insulation water damage from condensation. This layer (if it exists in your home) should face the inside walls if you live in a cold, northern client like we do in South Dakota. The barrier should face the outside walls and roof if you live in a hotter, southern climate.
  • Look for the level of insulation present. If you can see your joists in any area, additional insulation will help you improve your energy efficiency. If the insulation covers all the joists generously (by a couple of inches), and is clean and dry, you may not increase your attic insulation efficiency with more product.

Check the Rest of Your Home to Ensure Attic Insulation Efficiency

Before replacing your attic insulation, check out other visible areas of your home. If you notice water stains on the ceilings or walls in your house (especially the second floor), that could indicate you do not have an effective vapor barrier in place.

On the outside of your house, if there are clear signs of critter break-ins, you may need to completely remove your installation, clean up pest messes, and ensure there are no entry points for future unwanted visitors.

Inspecting your house for these warning signs can help you address underlying issues before investing in new insulation. After all, you want the money you spend on attic insulation efficiency to keep earning you energy dividends, rather than merely band-aid-ing more significant problems.

attic insulation efficiency

Attic Insulation Efficiency is Simple to Upgrade

Here’s some good news: as long as your existing insulation is clean and dry, installing new insulation can be a snap with the right professional help. 

In many homes, you may not have to remove your existing insulation to add a new product. Especially if you choose a blown-in option, your installer may be able to increase your R-values significantly by blowing in new fiber to supplement what’s already there.

Check with a professional insulation installer to find out if you can safely cover old insulation with a new product.

You have several insulation options from which to choose in most cases:

  • Spray insulation, like Green Fiber: This material is made of cellulose, and installed with a blower. It’s fast and neat to install, and can increase your insulation R-value up to 60. Bonus: you may also notice improved noise reduction in your home with this type of insulation. Though a vapor barrier is always a good idea, if this insulation is packed to a density of 2.6 lbs/cubic foot, you may not need one.
  • Fiberglass batting: Though easy to cut and place in your attic, this type of insulation has several disadvantages, including low efficiency performance and a high instance of installation mistakes. Vapor management may also be challenging with this type of insulation.
  • Loose-fill fiberglass spray: Though easy to install, the fill thickness can settle over time, and drop your R-value by as much as 50%. You’ll also need a vapor barrier for this type of insulation.
  • Spray foam: There are several different types of spray foam. For attics, a polyurethane-based foam is the most common type. This material does not require a vapor barrier, but boasts a much higher cost than other insulation types. Further, it must have a protective wall of sheetrock or plaster to be safe from fire.

The Savings Add Up Quickly

With proper insulation in your attic, you could save up to $600.00 per year in heating and cooling costs. With current installation and materials costs, you’ll recoup your investment in just a few seasons, not to mention the additional benefits to the environment that add up in the long haul.

Enlist a Pro’s Help with SoDak Insulation and Attic Restoration

Our professional, experienced team has seen every sort of attic situation. We’ll provide a clear and transparent estimate for insulation clean-up, and efficiency-boosting products.

We are proud of our regional service and local history of helping our neighbors stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We install the most reliable products so you can save money, feel comfortable, and be confident in your home year-round.

Call us today for a no-obligation inspection of your attic. We’re here to help you achieve the highest efficiency of your home or business, with friendly service for every customer we meet.