How Do Raccoons Get Into Attics? (8 Common Ways)

In this article, we’ll answer the question:

“How do raccoons get into attics?”

First, you’ll find a short summary of the most common ways raccoons get into an attic, then get a detailed explanation of these entry points along with methods to prevent raccoons from entering the attic of your house.

Raccoons are medium-sized mammals in the family Procyonidae under the order Carnivora. These omnivores are native to North America but are also distributed across mainland Europe, the Caucasus, and Japan. However, raccoons are known to cause damage, noise, and health risks for homeowners who have to deal with their unwanted presence.

raccoon in attic

How Do Raccoons Get Into Attics?

Raccoons get into attics through entry points such as uncapped chimneys, broken vents, pet doors, loose boards, and weak points. When raccoons get into an attic, these mammals can cause structural damage to a home by pulling apart ducts, roofing, insulation, and wiring.

Uncapped Chimneys

Raccoons can climb up and down chimneys and use them as access points to attics. They may also nest on the fireplace chimney or the furnace chimney, where they find a horizontal “smoke shelf” that is suitable for resting and raising their young.

Broken Vents

Raccoons can exploit any gaps or cracks in the vents that lead to the attic, such as roof vents, soffit vents, gable vents, or ridge vents. They can bend, tear, or chew through the vent covers or screens and squeeze through the openings.

Pet Doors

Raccoons can use pet doors that are installed on the exterior walls or doors of the house to enter the living space and then find their way to the attic. They can also use pet doors that are installed on the garage doors to access the garage and then climb up to the attic.

Loose Boards

Raccoons can take advantage of any loose boards or shingles on the roof or the siding of the house to create or enlarge holes that lead to the attic. They can use their strong claws and teeth to rip off or pry open the boards or shingles and then crawl through the gaps.

Weak Points

Raccoons can exploit any weak points in the structure of the house where different building materials join, such as dormer junctions, fascia boards, eaves, or corners. They can push, pull, or gnaw through these weak points and gain access to the attic.

Preventing and Removing Raccoons from Attics

Inspect and Repair

You need to inspect your house thoroughly and identify any potential entry points that raccoons can use to get into your attic. You then need to repair these entry points by sealing them with sturdy materials such as metal flashing, hardware cloth, or steel mesh. You also need to install chimney caps on your chimneys and replace any damaged vent covers or screens.

Exclude and Relocate

If you already have raccoons in your attic, you need to exclude them by using one-way doors that allow them to exit but not re-enter. You also need to make sure that there are no baby raccoons left behind in the attic, as they will die without their mother.

You can then relocate the raccoons to a suitable habitat at least 10 miles away from your house. You may need to hire a professional wildlife removal service to do this safely and humanely.

Harass and Repel

If you want to discourage raccoons from entering or staying in your attic, you can use some harassment and repellent techniques such as bright lights, loud noises, motion-activated sprinklers, or unpleasant scents. You can also use some natural predators’ urine or feces such as coyote or bear to scare off raccoons.

How Long Can a Raccoon Live In Your Attic?

A raccoon can live in your attic for as long as it finds food, water, and shelter there. A raccoon’s average lifespan in the wild is about five years, but it can live longer with enough resources. A female raccoon may also stay in your attic for several months with her young until they are ready to leave.

Can Raccoons Break Through a Ceiling?

Yes, raccoons can break through a ceiling if they are strong and determined enough. Raccoons can use their claws and teeth to tear through drywall, insulation, or wood. They may also damage electrical wires or pipes along the way. Raccoons may break through a ceiling to escape, explore, or find food.

Will a Raccoon Stay In A Hot Attic?

A raccoon may stay in a hot attic if it has no other option or if it is used to the temperature. Raccoons can tolerate heat up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but they prefer cooler environments. They may seek shade, water, or ventilation to cool down. They may also leave the attic at night when it is cooler.

Learn More About Raccoons

Now that you know more about how raccoons get into an attic, you may also be interested in these other educational guides on these mammals:

Raccoons Get Into Attics Summary

You now know how do raccoons get into attics.

As you discovered, the most common entry points are uncapped chimneys, broken vents, pet doors, loose boards, and weak points that raccoons can push, pull, or gnaw on to get into your  house. Fixing these entry points can help keep raccoons out of your attic.