Downspouts are the pipe part of gutters that stand vertically at the side of the house to move water from the roof to the ground. Issues such as clogging, sagging, or cracking can affect downspouts, but what about animals?
Sometimes, unwanted critters such as rats, mice, and squirrels can climb these pipes.
From there, unwelcome guests can turn the downspout into a home or use it to get into your house, damaging your properties and causing contamination.
Today, we’re discussing the possibility of critters making their way up your gutters and how to stop rats from climbing downspouts.
Can Rats and Rodents Climb Up Downspouts?
Most homeowners know how important it is to keep their gutters and downspouts free from leaves, grit, and other debris.
But have you ever thought there’s a chance that animals could reside inside these structures?
Rats, mice, squirrels, and other rodents can make their way up your downspout despite the vertical orientation of the pipe.
‘How’, you’re asking?
Well, rodents use support mechanisms such as phalanges, claws, dermal ridges, and tails to climb vertical structures like downspouts.
- ‘Phalanges’ is another word for ‘fingers’. Rats and most rodents possess fingers that they use to grip the vertical surface while climbing.
- Rats, mice, and most rodents also have sharp claws that end with pointed tips. They wedge their claws into tight gaps or use them to latch onto uneven, rough surfaces.
- The fingers we talked about above aren’t smooth. Rodents have dermal ridges on their hands and fingers that provide suitable texture to create friction against vertical surfaces and facilitate their climbing upward.
- If all the previous wasn’t enough, rodents also use their tails to push and balance their bodies. This helps rodents jump and climb up vertical surfaces.
Rats are especially good climbers, but mice can also make it happen.
So, do rodents climb downspouts from the inside or the outside? Unfortunately, the answer is both.
Rats and other rodents can use either the interior or exterior of your gutters to climb up the downspout.
From the inside, rodents can use fasteners or seams to get a good grasp on the surface. The confined space only gives these annoying animals extra leverage.
Rodents can also wedge against corners or hold onto debris to move upward. Debris can even serve as a nest for smaller critters.
From the outside, rodents can use the wall of the downspout to climb up, depending on fasteners and edges for additional clinging.
How To Keep Rodents Away from Your Downspout
Now that you’re familiar with the ways that rodents can climb up your downspout, we can talk about effective solutions to keep them away from your gutters, and consequently, your property.
1 – Do Regular Inspections
For starters, you should schedule regular inspections of your gutter system where you check for the presence of build-ups of leaves, sticks, grit, and other debris inside the downspouts.
Not only can such build-ups clog your gutters and cause water pooling and damage to your house, but rodents can also use them as leverage for climbing up downspouts. Debris build-ups can also double as homes for rodents.
To avoid these scenarios, make sure you get rid of debris periodically.
2 – Keep Your Property Clean
You may not realize that the reason rats and other rodents are climbing your downspouts is that your property is attracting them in the first place. More specifically, they’re attracted to food sources lying around your property.
Removing these rodent attractions will likely reduce or prevent critters from showing up uninvited.
Start by keeping your garbage in enclosed spaces like covered bins until the pick-up day. Use ropes or bungee cords to secure the bins closed and stop rodents from getting inside and ransacking.
If you have a garden, be sure to remove rotting vegetables and overgrown or rotting foliage as they can lure in critters. Also, if you use compost, keep the piles away from your house.
3 – Trim Your Trees
Rodents such as rats are pretty smart and will find whatever route they can to get into your house. Not to mention, they can jump significant distances so they don’t even need the ground to reach your downspout.
One of the routes you may not notice is trees. That’s right, rats can climb trees and use branches to access your gutters.
For this reason, you should trim the trees on your property and cut off branches within a distance of 8 feet from your house.
4 – Put Up Wire Screens or Chicken Wire
You can keep rodents away from your downspouts by blocking their access points using chicken wire or wire screens.
Simply grab a suitable size of the wired sheet and install it at the base of the downspout to block the opening.
Rodents can’t chew through metal wire, so it’s a good idea to position the wire screens over any openings along the length of the gutter.
We recommend drilling the screens into place to ensure that the rodents won’t just push them out of the way.
5 – Use Rodent Guards
You can install rodent guards over the opening of your downspout and along the gutters to keep them out. You can buy rodent guards from a hardware store or you can make them yourself.
You’ll need to measure the length and width of each gutter section and downspout opening. To get the final dimensions of the guards, add about 2 inches to the pipe measurements.
After that, grab some wire mesh and cut sections according to the final dimensions obtained. Then, use screws to secure each guard section to its corresponding spot across the gutter and downspout.
6 – Apply Hardware Cloth
Installing hardware cloth is another method you can use to block access points where rodents get into downspouts and enter your home.
Available in most hardware stores, hardware cloth has metal wire welded or woven in a grid pattern to form a mesh. The metal can be bare steel, stainless steel, galvanized, or a range of other types.
Once you get your hands on the hardware cloth, cut it into an appropriate size piece and secure it inside the opening of your downspout.
7 – Make the Surface Slippery
Another way you can prevent rodents from climbing your downspout is to make its surface slippery so they’ll have a hard time gripping onto it.
Do this by smearing petroleum jelly on the surface of the downspout. You can also try mixing in some crushed red pepper to further deter the rodents from the pipe.
8 – Set Up Motion-activated Sprinklers
Last but not least, you can repel rodents from your property and keep them from climbing your downspouts by installing motion-activated sprinklers.
These devices can detect the movement of nearby critters and set off water to splash them away from the parameter.
While they may not be effective if the rodents reach the downspout from higher places, motion-activated sprinklers can secure ground-level threats.
There you have it, a complete guide on how to stop rats from climbing downspouts.
As you can tell by now, keeping rodents away from your downspouts doesn’t have to be a complicated task. Regular inspection and cleaning along with some wire screens and rodent guards can do the trick.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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