Few things are as dreadful as pest invasion on a home, especially for homeowners with stored property in the crawl space.
The small animal invasion should be stopped in its tracks to protect the essential installations in the belly of the home.
This includes insulation, air conditioning ductwork, and storage spaces.
(Accordingly) How Can You Keep Animals from Digging Underneath a Manufactured Home?
The first and obvious solution is to add skirting/underpinning on the perimeter of the base of the home. The skirting provides a barrier between the crawl space and the exterior of the home but still needs to be supplemented with other measures to provide a more complete barrier.
Let’s get deeper:
1. Avoiding attraction
The trick to keeping unwanted animals at bay is to not attract them in the first place.
Those wayward critters keep arriving in hordes because they find lots of food in your yard and ready structures to call home.
Start by ensuring that the lids on your garbage bins are closed and secured tightly enough to resist the knock of a loitering raccoon.
You can add bungee cords the lids or paper to prevent every other animal from trying to access the garbage can. Be sure to bag all your trash before placing it in the garbage can.
More importantly, don’t leave the garbage can too close to your home – keep it at the gate if possible.
Remember to clean your yard after the party and every other event that involves food.
If you are passionate about birds and have bird feeders at home, consider getting rid of the whole thing or place them far from your house so that you don’t attract small animals with them.
2. Securing skirting
Perhaps the most effective line of defense between the crawl space and the exterior of the home is secure skirting with no holes or cracks.
Mobile homes are always elevated off the ground, leaving an easily accessible space at the base. Any animal looking for a home would gladly stop in there and think of starting a family.
However, properly installed skirting denies them free access to this area.
To be certain that your skirting works and is secure enough to ward off the little intruders, add a bottom and top rail into which your skirting fits firmly.
To find out the amount of material required for the project, add the width and length of the four sides of your home, plus the 3 sides of the porches or decks if you have any.
The first number is the total amount of channeling and framing needed for the skirting project.
Then, proceed to find the height of every corner and at the center of every long end.
Finish by adding them, and dividing by 6. The figure you get is the average of the height required.
You want to keep pests out of the underbelly of the home without cutting off the air supply to this area.
As such, make sure you vent your skirting properly to permit maximum air circulation.
Otherwise, the moisture that will rise from the ground won’t dry out, potentially causing the growth of mildew and mold.
A rule of thumb is to leave a 1 ft. of venting for every 150 – 250 square feet.
Again, when purchasing your materials, make sure you get all of them at once, in addition to 10% extra in case of damages or make mistakes.
Also, that specific brand could be no longer in stock when you return to buy extra.
3. Minimize plants/mulch
Avoid planting shrubs close to the base of the home.
Also, trim back any plant branches or overgrowths that come too close to your home.
Such efforts will help you eliminate “bridges” that small animals can use to reach your house or hide to dig holes to reach the underneath of the home.
Likewise, beds of mulch in gardens can provide a great hiding spot for pests.
For that reason, instead of piling a lot of mulch in the garden or close to the house, opt for less pest-attractive cover, such as sand or rocks.
4. Concrete lawn/landscape edging
Instead of leaving your lawn covered with grass, wouldn’t it be great to do landscape edging or cover it with concrete slabs?
Wondering animals and pests won’t have an easy time digging into the concrete slabs to access the underfloor.
If you don’t like the idea of covering the entire lawn with concrete slabs or tiles, you can limit the slabs at the footing of the skirting and let the grass grow on the rest of the lawn.
A 6 foot concrete edging off the foot of the skirting will certainly prevent small animals from burrowing into the base and eventually into the underbelly.
However, this can only work if you get your skirting right – make sure it is properly installed and free of holes
5. Crawl space encapsulation
Crawl space encapsulation – put simply – is a sealing method that involves lining your “foundation” walls (interior of the skirting/underpinning) and the interior of the floor surfaces with sheets of an overlapping cover.
The most often used cover is polyethylene plastic. This establishes an airtight vapor barrier, locking the moisture out of your subfloor area.
Besides protecting the crawl space from moisture encroachment, this technique can be used to prevent small animals from digging their way into the underbelly of the home.
The best thing about this technique is that it protects against all types of unwanted animals – be it cats or terminates, the underneath of the home will be out of bounds for all of them.
Instead of landscape edging or adding a concrete lawn, you can choose to pour gravel on the perimeter of the base of the home.
Gravel makes it difficult for pests to burrow into the ground to the bottom of the home.
Of course, graveling has to accompany a crack-free underpinning/skirting to provide maximum protection against small animal invasion.
Gravelling works very much the same way as landscape edging except that you use gravel instead of slabs of concrete.
Gravel provides a more flexible alternative to concrete slabs because it can be easily scooped away if it is no longer needed.
Proceed to pour gravel around your home – should extend up to 6 feet from the base of the skirting – and stop those little invaders.
7. Call the pest control company
This is among the last options you’d resort to after exhausting all other options.
Also, if you are not ready for the skirting yet, you can call the pest guys and let them provide a reprieve as you figure out a lasting option.
If this option becomes absolutely necessary, it is likely your home has been overrun by all imaginable tribes of critters.
There are lots of pest extermination companies out there – find one in your region.
Depending on your company’s plans, they may help you fix all the weaknesses that could have allowed the animals to encroach the space.
8. Set traps (for rodents)
Rodents are the hardest to control. They will chew on your insulation and woodwork, then invade the underbelly of the home to give birth to a new nuisance.
However, you can reduce or eliminate the menace by employing an array of control methods at the same time, including traps and poisons.
9. Regular Outside House Inspections
You will be surprised by how easily you will interrupt the encroachment by inspecting the home regularly.
Make it a chore to stroll around the exterior of your house once every 2 – 3 days to do quick inspections.
Look for areas where small animals the size of rats can crawl into the home.
If you spot mounds of dirt dug up close to the base under the skirting, chances are it is an animal’s doorway.
Cover any holes with dirt and check back after a few days.
You know an animal has a home nearby if you find the hole open again.
10. Traps/poison combination
Rats are hard to stop once they overrun a building.
If you learn that they have established a home underfloor, you should think of including traps and poisons in the mix of everything else.
Traps are highly effective – every bait placed on them ends up with a dead rat!
The idea of traps and poisons may not be attractive if you have small children or pets at home.
If you don’t, proceed to set your traps and poisoned food (bottle-tops full of regular human food laced with rat poison).
So, how can you keep animals from digging underneath a manufactured home?
Start by installing crack-free skirting.
Thereafter, determine whether crawl space encapsulation or graveling would be perfect for the job.
There are numerous other options.
How to Keep Critters Out From Under Your Mobile Home
How to Keep Pests Out of Your Crawl Space
10 Tips to Become Your Home’s Pest Defender
Home Care Guide: Taking Care of Prefabricated Home Crawl Spaces