How this wintry weather can give mice a direct shot into your garage
Once again we find ourselves in the frigid winter months. You’ve done your due diligence to prepare. The latest snow storm has rolled through, adding a fresh layer of powder. But you faced it and triumphed.
The driveway is shoveled? Check.
An extra log on the fire? Check.
A hot, soothing drink in hand? Check!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is something you may have overlooked. And that oversight may be all that is needed for a common critter to waltz into your garage: a mouse.
Mice are active throughout the winter months. They need only the smallest of gaps to get in. An adult mouse can squeeze through a gap only ⅜-inch (less than 10 mm) wide. That vulnerable point is along the bottom of your garage door.
Under normal conditions, a properly maintained garage door and bottom seal will provide good contact with the underlying pavement. Says Martin Fauchier, General Manager of Overhead Doors of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, “We get calls about deteriorated bottom seals often. Five to seven years is a good life for a seal. The life span is dependent on several variables like overhang, driveway slope, garage drains, what direction the door faces, and salt use. Once deterioration starts it is best to act quickly." The bottom seal is usually an effective barrier against both the elements and wildlife.
Unfortunately, the ice and blowing snow can compromise this bottom seal. As you drive in and out of your garage, your vehicle leaves a trail of slush and ice. This sloshy mess then freezes, leaving an uneven surface for the garage door seal to press against. With enough ice accumulation, the gapping is enough for a mouse to slip underneath.
While mice are certainly an issue, there are other reasons to address this problem. Says Martin Fauchier, “A well maintained bottom seal not only provides rodent protection, but also minimizes air and water infiltration. A new seal is less likely to freeze down during freezing rain events than a compressed seal that is falling apart and has become porous. You can have an expensive door with an 18 R-value, but if the seals are in bad shape the R-Value won’t matter since COLD and HOT air will infiltrate into the garage through failing seals. Overhead Door very often replaces the bottom retainer which comes attached to the bottom seal. It cleans up the look of the bottom of the door and installs in half the time of trying to thread a new seal into the original door groove.”
Fortunately, the immediate fix when your seal is good is straightforward and you can do it yourself: Scrape away the ice on the cement that is directly beneath the garage door.
Be sure to do this with the garage door up and off the ground, so as to not damage the bottom seal or bottom door panel. And don’t forget to look at the bottom seal while your door is up, as there may be ice stuck to the bottom. Just don’t use a metal scraper on this seal!
"The best preventative method is to keep snow and ice as clear as possible from where your door hits the concrete," says Martin Fauchier. "Try NOT to use salt near the door as it will rust the bottom section and eventually accelerate your seal deterioration. If you have ice or snow chunks frozen to the seal, use a warm cloth and rub across the seal while the door is in the open position. Be patient and careful in removing the ice. Don’t use anything that might damage or tear your seal. The seals are typically rubber or some poly blend material."
And if you remove all the ice and still don’t close the gap, it may be time to replace the garage door bottom seal. Overhead Doors of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City can help assess this possibility over the phone.
One last tip: Prevent the icing problem from ever happening by keeping a stiff brush or shovel nearby. When you park your vehicle inside, take a peek before closing the garage door and see if a quick sweep or scoop is in order. It is so much easier to move loose slush than the ice it forms when it freezes in place. And once you have knocked out this quick step, then head inside to toss another log on the fire and curl up with a yummy drink!
Do you have another tip to make winter survival easier? Share in the comments below!
Joe Taylor, M.S. Science Education, B.S. Biology, is a full time nuisance wildlife control operator in Eastern Iowa, and owner of Paw Control, LLC. Follow him on Twitter: @pawcontroller at LinkedIn, or the Paw Control blog: https://www.pawcontrol.com/blog