What’s That On Your Roof?


Or, is it something in your crawl space? Do you hear scratching sounds coming from your roof or running and walking noises at night in your attic? Do you have trees and branches in your yard close to the house? It’s probably not ghosts in the attic, but it may be animals in the night! What racoons, opossums, squirrels, birds, bats and a whole slew of insects have in common is that they find your roof and attic very welcoming! While you may think these problems only occur in the country or rural areas it is actually a very common occurrence in the city and in Capitol Hill.

Your roof is meant to protect your home from harsh weather conditions, not constant contact with animals and insects trying to get inside your roof to the attic space. Wild animals like racoons, squirrels and opossum will use their sharp paws and teeth to create openings in the roof. Birds, bats and insects can get through the roof into the attic or crawl space easily through openings and gaps in fascia behind gutters, soffits, and roof vents. Nests can block the flow of air in and out of the attic space and a lack of proper airflow can damage the structure of the roof during periods of extreme temperatures. Birds can block your gutters with their nests, making it more likely that your roof will flood in heavy rains. Once they are inside your attic these critters can cause a whole other set of problems. They can cover the attic surface with droppings, rotten food, and nesting materials as well as tear down attic insulation, electrical wiring and more.

Some additional entrances to look for include damaged or loose masonry in the walls and chimneys, loose roof tiles, uncovered chimneys, open spots under the deck or porch, plumbing stacks and the area where your roof meets the dormers. Whether critters get inside your home or not they can cause damage that will be susceptible to roof leaks which will lead to wood rot, mold and a shortened lifespan for your roof.

As a roofer who has spent a fair amount of time in attics, crawl spaces and roofs I can say that I have pretty much seen it all, including frightened squirrels scrambling across my arm as I popped the internal hatch to my customer’s attic! Well, they weren’t the only ones frightened!

What to Do
So, what sort of preventive measures should you take to help avoid or mitigate against these problems?

  • Trim back any trees and branches that hag too close to the roof. Trees can serve as a bridge to your home.
  • Have roof damage repaired as soon as possible to prevent wild animals from using this as an easy access point to your attic.
  • Make sure all unnecessary openings are sealed.
  • Have your gutters cleaned out and the fascia checked regularly.
  • Have your chimney cap inspected.

Bottom line: If you want to get wildlife out of your home and keep them out you need to do more than just trap and release. You also need to ensure all entry holes that lead into your home are sealed!


Tom Daniel is owner of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, LLC and is the third generation of the Daniel family to provide roofing services to Capitol Hill homeowners covering a span of nearly 100 years. Tom was born in Capitol Hill and supports numerous community organizations. For help with your roofing needs he can be reached at 202-569-1080, 202-544-4430, or tom@rthomasdanielroofing.com.