There was a mouse so I blew up the block
August 11, 2017 2:38 PM   Subscribe

We have a mouse and I'm pretty sure it's "commuting" from behind the stove. I stuffed the cracks by the baseboards with steel wool and sealed them with caulk, but I have no idea how to close the giant hole surrounding the gas pipe. (About 2-3 inches around.) It turns out steel wool and expanding foam sealants are VERY FLAMMABLE, VERY BAD. How do I safely seal this?

My landlord is useless. Thank you!!
posted by jessca84 to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think I'd go for a trap or an exterminator over a home job near a stove...
posted by acm at 2:46 PM on August 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Rodent-Proof Construction and Exclusion Methods -- a result within this Google search, which may contain other useful videos, etc.
posted by WCityMike at 2:48 PM on August 11, 2017

Sheet metal is easy to cut, or you can buy a flashing to fit on the pipe. Here These are roof flashings to go around pipes to keep rain out, but some are soft, can be cut easily, then can be silicon sealed back together. Some flashings are aluminum, with a rubber center hole, that can be adjusted. Just look at flashings in general, they are cheap, Home Depot has lots.
posted by Oyéah at 3:05 PM on August 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sheet-metal flashing. Make a cone out of light sheet metal, cut off the point so you can run the pipe through it, wrap the cone around the pipe and tape it closed, shove the cone into the hole, and wedge the lot into place with some wood or just a bunch of aluminum foil, plus add some tape where you can.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:05 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ah, or just a couple pieces of sheet metal that overlap where the pipe is. So, a couple rectangles, and each one has a section cut out such that it'll slide onto the pipe and then fit flush against it. Basically a pipe-diameter-width rectangular cutout, of the metal topped with a semicircle with the same radius as the pipe. Height of the rectangle comes down to how much space you need to cover up, but the 2 sheets, when joined, will overlap the other by 2x the sum of the heights of the rectangle cutouts. (I think-- I did this in my head.)
posted by Sunburnt at 3:11 PM on August 11, 2017

Thanks for the great answers so far! And yeah I'm aware of mouse traps. This is a 40 unit building in Brooklyn; if you don't seal the entry points, they'll just keep on coming.
posted by jessca84 at 3:17 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Plaster is non-flammable, relatively easy to work with, and patches wall holes nicely...

If you need to plug a larger hole: cut a piece of cardboard that's bigger than the hole, punch a hole in it, tie a string through the hole, use that to hold the cardboard in place behind the hole while you apply the first layer of plaster. Let that first layer dry, cut off the string, apply the next layer of plaster, burying the remaining bit of string, over it 'til you get smooth.
posted by straw at 3:45 PM on August 11, 2017

I'm going to weigh in on the side of the 'use metal' camp, as I have had mice tunnel through plaster and no longer trust it as a permanent deterrent. It will take them a while to get through it, so maybe in the meantime get a cat? (kidding)

(kind of)
posted by ananci at 4:42 PM on August 11, 2017

ouch. i dug out the MSDS for that stuff. its no good for this, as it's still urethane based and will ignite please dont use that...

also, do you mean gas inlet pipe or chimney? (you say gas pipe), if it's the gas pipe then flammable isnt a concern.
posted by chasles at 5:07 PM on August 11, 2017

There is intumescent caulk designed for fireproofing around penetrations. However, it is not rodent proof.

Even very thin metal will work. Try an aluminum pie tin if you have one saved from previous yummings; if not, it's an excuse to go buy pie.
posted by mightshould at 5:47 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I'd just put lots of duct tape around it and double or triple it up. But hey, I am no expert.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:57 PM on August 11, 2017

Hire the exterminator to examine the unit. We thought our problem was the hole by the stove. That was a problem, which can be addressed with steel wool and metal plate, but that was not the only problem. Turns out they were also coming in through holes in the water powered baseboard heaters. I was happy to have a pro do the inspection and put in all the wool in all the awkward places.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:04 PM on August 11, 2017

We blocked our mice from coming into the kitchen via a void behind the stove by getting aluminum tape and window screen mesh and securing the screen with the tape over the void. This allowed proper venting and kept them away from one of their favorite ways of getting in. We also got three live traps and caught two of them that way. Another time one of them got into a Mason jar that had been sitting out and had some remnants of stew in the bottom. We put some aluminum foil over the top and poked airholes in it, then secured it with the outer part of the Mason lid. A couple of them we were able to catch by cornering them and putting a container over them, sliding cardboard underneath, and carefully putting the top on. All of these mice were taken to a field a few miles away.

We're not fans of killing animals, and even if we wanted to, putting out poison will create rodents that are poisonous to cats and other predators, and the mice can die indoors and rot there. Very bad for the ecosystem all around.

Also, keeping the areas where the mice have been free of food, and sprayed with peppermint oil, is a deterrent to them wanting to go there. It took a while, but we've been mouse-free for a few weeks now.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:34 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is a lo-fi method, but someone clued me in that mice hate cayenne, and liberally sprinkled cayenne powder under our sink for a few months. Seemed to do the trick.
posted by Miko at 8:06 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

As a pet rat owner, I second AppleTurnover's suggestion of duct tape. The rat internet scuttlebutt is that rodents hate chewing through duct tape because it gums up their teeth. I feel like you can't go wrong with both duct tape and metal flashing in this situation.
posted by Alioth at 9:02 PM on August 11, 2017

mightshould: "There is intumescent caulk designed for fireproofing around penetrations. However, it is not rodent proof.

Even very thin metal will work. Try an aluminum pie tin if you have one saved from previous yummings; if not, it's an excuse to go buy pie.

You can also buy fireblock foam products (EG: here is a retail packaged product from DAP). Stuff the space with metal window screen and then fill the cavity with foam.
posted by Mitheral at 10:48 PM on August 11, 2017

Plumbers putty.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:31 AM on August 12, 2017

I swear by the expanding foam stuff, supplemented with whatever trap method you prefer.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:08 AM on August 13, 2017

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