Home inspections can sometimes bring surprises

After having been a full-time home inspector for over two decades, not much surprises me anymore. In a way, you could say that I’ve pretty much seen it all. However, every once in a while, I get that rare surprise. Although the vast majority of my work consists of home inspections and commercial building inspections, I do consider myself to be a fairly versatile home inspector. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, so when the need arises for me to go beyond the “call of duty”, bring it on!

Every once in a while, I get that rare surprise!

An unusual situation

Last summer I received a call from a real estate agent which I regularly work with. She’s getting one of her listings ready for a showing that afternoon, and she discovered a stain on the master bedroom ceiling, and needed my advice. Being that she’s a great person, and I’m always happy to help, I decide to head over there personally to check it out. It’s a vaulted ceiling, and I can see the stain right at the bottom of the vaulted section, where the rafter meets the top plate of the exterior wall. Looking at the stain, I know right away that it’s not water, it’s something a bit nastier.

Looking at the stain, I know right away that it’s not water, it’s something a bit nastier.
Home inspections can reveal serious health hazards

So I grab my stepladder and pop the hatch to take a look in the attic. As I go to push the hatch up, something I’ve done thousands and thousands of times, I find that this hatch seems particularly heavy for a manufactured insulated attic hatch. I keep pushing, and all of a sudden a good 10 pounds of raccoon skat falls all over me, covering the entire walk-in closet floor with, well, you know what!

The inspection of the home's attic revealed raccoon feces
Raccoon Latrine

Raccoons will defecate in the same location, commonly known as a raccoon latrine

The raccoons chewed up the polystyrene insulation of the attic hatch and made a toilet out of it!

After the showering of raccoon feces, I continue to pop the hatch all the way open, only to discover that the raccoons chewed up the polystyrene insulation of the attic hatch and made a toilet out of it, and have been using the attic hatch as their own personal “raccoon latrine”. According to John Grady of Grady’s Wildlife Removal, this is common behaviour for Raccoons as they are territorial creatures and will always defecate in the same place. So, covered in pieces of Styrofoam and raccoon turds, I perform a quick inspection of the attic, and right away spot where they’ve penetrated through the front soffit.

Home inspections revealed raccoon activity in the attic
Point of Entry

A clear path is visible leading from the raccoon latrine to the damaged soffit panel where the raccoons made entry

A real estate agent’s nightmare

Having discovered the problem, I exit the attic opening and climb back down the stepladder, only to see a look of horror on the agent’s face. Having realized that the entire walk-in closet floor is now covered in raccoon feces, she looks at me and says “I have a showing in ten minutes!” Oh boy, time for quick thinking… So I look at her and I blurt out: “Find a shovel, an outdoor broom, and a large trash bag!” While she goes out to retrieve the necessary hardware, I clean up around the attic hatch and re-seal the attic, leaving the bigger problem in the attic for John Grady to handle. By the time I stow my stepladder, the agent is back with what I need, and I quickly get the closet cleaned up. I would sweep a load onto the shovel, dump the shovel load into the trash bag, and repeat. Followed with a quick run with my cordless hand vac from my equipment bag to clean up any remaining tiny bits, and finished it off with a generous spray of my industrial antimicrobial germicide spray from my gear bag (which I normally use to spray down my shoe covers prior to each inspection, for Covid protocols). I managed to get it all done just in time, quietly sneaking out of the house, trash bag in hand, just as the unsuspecting buyers arrive at the front door.

“I have a showing in ten minutes!”. Oh boy, time for quick thinking…
Home inspectors are always happy to help real estate agents in distress

Home inspectors have hearts, some things we don’t charge for

In case you’re wondering what I charged for this job, well this one was on the house. For one, “Raccoon Mess Emergency Clean-Up” isn’t on my home inspection price list, it’s not exactly a service I regularly provide. Two, I was in and out in less than 20 minutes, so I’m not going to charge someone for such a short visit. And three, this is an agent that I also consider a friend, so I was more than happy to help, especially considering the predicament she was in.

I hope you enjoyed this little episode from a day in the life of a home inspector. Remember that Raccoon skat is considered a significant biohazard. According to the CDC, raccoons are the primary host of Baylisascaris procyonis, a roundworm that can be harmful to people. This is why I made sure to provide a generous application of Microban® to the entire floor area. Even though the home was vacant, I wanted to make sure that any potential home buyers didn’t become infected. Especially since many will look at homes with their young kids in tow. If you do come across a raccoon latrine in your home, remember to thoroughly clean and disinfect the area. “Eggs in newly deposited feces are not infectious and can take at least 2 to 4 weeks to become infectious. Prompt removal and destruction of raccoon feces will reduce risk for exposure and possible infection”, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further information on raccoon latrines, and their associated hazards:
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/baylisascaris/raccoon_latrines.html

In case you have a wildlife removal emergency, please contact John Grady:
https://gradyswildliferemoval.com/

Published On: December 30th, 2022 / Categories: Home Inspections /