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Old 11-18-2012, 09:56 AM   #1
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


Sorry if this is longwinded, there's a lot to tell.

Since this spring, I've started hearing noises coming from a particular area of a livingroom wall. Sometimes it's faint like a scratching, when it gets louder it's more of a twanging or plucking sound, made against wood I assume. I say I assume, because when noises are made inside of a wall, a lot of tricks can be played on the ears.

Behavior:

Their activity does not occur at night, at least not until recently when night counts as before 8pm. During a very hot and dry period of the summer whatever it was went dormant for a while. Otherwise the activity happens completely randomly between 10am and 8pm non-DST.

Banging on the wall stops them for a while, then they are back at it most days, until they feel satisfied with whatever they are up to. Most curious is that when the wall is even approached they almost always stop, sensing my presence or at least my approach. If I stand perfectly still, they will start again. Out of impatience or ignorance I don't know.

Recently I've noticed that often before it starts up, but not always, I will hear a creaking run across the ceiling above that section of wall. a-ha! I thought to myself.

Doing it myself:

I've put all manner of repellents, poisons, and traps around the house and in the attic, and stuffed some of the former 2 things into the wall via a very small opening near the floor where a TV antenna panel is. I've personally inspected a half dozen times the exterior of the house, the attic (though it's really REALLY cramped in my attic, with no floorboard support to get a proper footing), and the roof, where I've covered every exhaust hole with hardware cloth. Thinking at one time it could be carpenter ants, I tried to put out some bait and poisons near the only possible wood nests I could find.

Orkin and Terminix:

Both said they found no evidence of termites, mice, or bats. Said they weren't qualified to deal with squirrels (which is my number 1 suspicion atm).

Terminix guy put out mouse bait stations anyways, just to check. They got no hits. Though he never did put any up in the attic, which is partially littered with tomcat bait poison cubes now.

There aren't any names that ring recognition with me that deal with squirrels. I don't want to pay a local guy who's just going to do something I can do, or worse cut open my drywall.

I've never caught site of anything up in the attic, not a thing. It's maddening. Right now there are 3 traps left undisturbed in the attic with PB on a cheese flavored cracker. I would think a squirrel up there would go for one. Or a mouse, or rat.

Before I demolish my house and lose my sanity, I'd like to at least know what this is. Hoping someone can help diagnose it.

Thanks.

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Old 11-18-2012, 10:04 AM   #2
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


First off, loose the cheese crackers....PB is enough....

Second, put those traps near a wall....mice rarely walk out in the open...they almost always scurry against a wall.

I would go to HF and buy a humane trap (they are good to have handy). Get one big enough to catch a cat. If you have a swquirrel, it will most likely catch it.

If you know which part of the wall they are in, you just might have to cut a hole and go in....one problem....if your doing poison....it could kill them and you end up with dead animals in the wall....which you want to clean out.

The big clue....you hear the walking in the ceiling....so, traps are not going to do you any good in the crawlspace.....

Have you gone up there and looked for any holes above that wall?

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Old 11-18-2012, 10:57 AM   #3
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
First off, loose the cheese crackers....PB is enough....

Second, put those traps near a wall....mice rarely walk out in the open...they almost always scurry against a wall.

I would go to HF and buy a humane trap (they are good to have handy). Get one big enough to catch a cat. If you have a swquirrel, it will most likely catch it.

If you know which part of the wall they are in, you just might have to cut a hole and go in....one problem....if your doing poison....it could kill them and you end up with dead animals in the wall....which you want to clean out.

The big clue....you hear the walking in the ceiling....so, traps are not going to do you any good in the crawlspace.....

Have you gone up there and looked for any holes above that wall?
I don't know what you mean by crawlspace. Traps are in the attic, the attic is right above the ceiling where I hear movement before wall noises start or after they end.

There's not enough clearence due to the shallow slope of the roof to make it to edges where the wall connects to get a good look. Just not doable. A marine obstacle course master would have a hard enough time.

I've also got a have a hart trap that I had up there with no results. Whatever it is just doesn't care or is too stupid to notice. Where they get food from and how they are coming and going is a complete mystery to me.
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:20 PM   #4
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


First thought: rent or buy a boroscope. That will enable you to drill a small hole (~1\2"), insert the boroscope and see what is in the wall. Squirrels do like peanut butter, but placement of the trap in an attic will have mixed results. If it is a squirrel, you should see it get out and onto the roof or the ground near the entry. Otherwise, it could be a different rodent.

Bats may have a timing cycle like you indicate. If it is bats, you should see them exit the abode at dusk. This could take a couple days to locate the entrance.

Did you feel the edge of the structure just above the foundation edge? That could be an entry point.

What things protrude from your roof? Have you inspected all of those? Do trees or tall bushes abutt your abode?

Where are you located? That does have an influence.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:43 PM   #5
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


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Originally Posted by gobug View Post
First thought: rent or buy a boroscope. That will enable you to drill a small hole (~1\2"), insert the boroscope and see what is in the wall. Squirrels do like peanut butter, but placement of the trap in an attic will have mixed results. If it is a squirrel, you should see it get out and onto the roof or the ground near the entry. Otherwise, it could be a different rodent.

Bats may have a timing cycle like you indicate. If it is bats, you should see them exit the abode at dusk. This could take a couple days to locate the entrance.

Did you feel the edge of the structure just above the foundation edge? That could be an entry point.

What things protrude from your roof? Have you inspected all of those? Do trees or tall bushes abutt your abode?

Where are you located? That does have an influence.
Southwest kansas, dodge city.

There are a number of 'pipes' for lack of a better word, and 3 vent things that come out of the top of the house, all have been hardware clothed.

I've checked for any gaps in siding and where the roof shingles meet the gutters/eaves. Newish roof tiles.

Theres 3 trees, two of which your regular seasonal types, but none of them have branches that come particularly close to the house. I've seen a squirrel hanging out in one of them and sitting on my fence. Third tree is a bushy evergreen thing, not even sure it's branches would support a squirrel, but it's close to the house. Never have seen any thing on it or heard any rustling in it.

As for leaving at dusk, they don't. They are in the attic or wall well after dark, at least this time of year. At least 6:30 (gets dark an hour before that), if not 7:30. edit: It's 8:43 right now and they are going at it.

Another thing to note, had my gf bang on the wall while I sat in the attic in case one my show itself, no luck. The attic is lined with insulation, outside of the part of it that makes up the ceiling of the outside porch and above the garage. It seems unlikely I could be hearing what I am from the attic unless A. the source of the attic sound is tricking my ears, B. they are actually traveling under the insulation. I lifted a little bit of insulation, didn't see anything underneath. Need a mask and some goggles if I want to do anymore of that.

As for a boroscope, it's a good idea I'll admit, I even went to walmart hoping they'd have a kids toy version, I don't know where I'd rent one around here, but maybe I can find something that will do in a pinch. However, it's a gamble because the walls are filled with insulation, it will be dark and obstructed, and segmented completely by beams. It could take many many drill holes to find anything as locating the exact origin of the noise is something like a 6 foot radius of possibility. That's conservative.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:19 PM   #6
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


No rodent droppings or disgusting smells. Maybe its an extra large snake.

Creepy
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:22 PM   #7
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


As for droppings, I see black specks in the attic, but I don't know if that's supposed to be droppings or just dirt, or black flakes from other stuff, etc. Maybe it's just a bunch of tiny droppings, not sure how to tell the difference.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:52 PM   #8
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


Black bits are a good clue. Don't forget to wash carefully if you touch them. The plague was carried by rodents
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:43 PM   #9
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


Rat droppings look like small black bits of rice....

One of the first things I did in my attic was vacuum up all the dirt....it then becomes obvious when something is 'visiting'.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:11 AM   #10
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


I used boroscopes occasionally in the pest control business. Then, they were not easy to find. Bix Box has a ryobi battery powered boroscope for about $200. If you do find one, you could drill holes with a hole saw. The plugs could be placed back in the holes with a little spackle.

I recall a job where there were garter snakes in the attic (not big). They were coming out several areas, like ceiling lights.

You mention the garage. Do you have pets? If so, where is their bulk food? & do you leave pet food out after they eat? Does the garage have a ceiling and access into the bigger attic areas? A visual separation between the attics may appear closed off, but may not be. Garages have major access points into houses.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:13 AM   #11
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


your location eliminates bats for this time of year
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:30 AM   #12
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gobug View Post
I used boroscopes occasionally in the pest control business. Then, they were not easy to find. Bix Box has a ryobi battery powered boroscope for about $200. If you do find one, you could drill holes with a hole saw. The plugs could be placed back in the holes with a little spackle.

I recall a job where there were garter snakes in the attic (not big). They were coming out several areas, like ceiling lights.

You mention the garage. Do you have pets? If so, where is their bulk food? & do you leave pet food out after they eat? Does the garage have a ceiling and access into the bigger attic areas? A visual separation between the attics may appear closed off, but may not be. Garages have major access points into houses.
Are you sure it can't be bats? I was sort of hoping at this point.

No pets. The garage has the only access point into the attic, and is closed off by two boards (likely used to be a single piece) that fit snugly into place. There's only one attic area. If there's a way into the house from the garage, I can't spot it.

It's 10:30 am CST and they are starting up again, for the last 2 days, coincidentally, they appear to have spread out a bit, as there's sound in the original location and now 12 feet to the left of it.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:57 AM   #13
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


Small brown bats are the most common. Since they eat insects, they head south when the weather gets cold. Some types of bats will hibernate in caves or tunnels in our CO climate, but they move to those locations when the weather is cold and back to their summer home in the spring. Bats are families and they return to the same place year after year. If you have them in your attic you will find piles of mouse sized terds below their primary hangouts. They have a noticable and distinct odor.

Another idea is to use a stethoscope to hear the sounds more clearly. Bees humm. Wasps buzz. Carpenter ants make a different sound. These sounds stay put, and you don't hear them in different places or moving around quickly. Are the sounds always coming from the same spots?

My impression is that it is a rodent. Porches, decks, and garages can provide an underground tunnel for mice to enter. These can lead to the grade beam of the structure, which then leads throughout the house from the underside, even if it has a basement.

Whatever it is must have a food source to survive. Rodents leave droppings mostly near where they eat. Most rodent urines will flouresce so a black light can be a good tool to find them.

Carpenter ants don't eat the wood, but they leave wood dust when they build their nest.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:58 AM   #14
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


Bats have a unique sound....if you hear a chirping....bats...no chirping...rats or something else.

Do you have a dog? If you did and you had something in the wall...he would be going nuts.....

Otherwise.....Ghostbusters?
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Old 11-19-2012, 11:18 AM   #15
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Don't know what's in my walls, stumped 2 pest controllers.


No pets of any kind. And it's definitely there. No chirping or squeaking. Heard some noises in the attic, ran up (as fast as one can put in place a ladder and get up there anyhow), took a very long look around, still see nothing. Ghosts would just come out at night and not at 10am I'd assume.

I have listened, it's def not a hum or a buz. It's like a plucking noise against wood, when it's loud then it's distinct like that. I hear creaks from the ceiling as if they are moving across it, though this happens less often than the general noise.

As for food source, they aren't inside the house, just the walls and possibly attic. I don't know where they get their food from. I guess for a while I thought it was squirrels because it seems they could most easily get their food from a completely different location than where they are nesting or whatever in my walls.

Outside of this most recent migration to a second section of wall, they've always been in this one spot. There are no piles of dust or turds or anything anywhere. I could try shining a blacklight around. Once I get one.

I'm curious about carpenter ants and wood boring beetles, but they don't really explain the strange corresponding attic noises, unless those are just coincidental. I once saw a short youtube video of a guy who had an old piece of furniture that had a similar sound coming from it. It didn't say what was inside of it, as he didn't know, but I would assume a wood borer.

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