How to keep squirrels from damaging lead vent pipes

Written by susan walworth
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How to keep squirrels from damaging lead vent pipes
Squirrels often chew lead vent pipes, which can lead to costly repairs. (squirrel image by Mariusz Blach from

Squirrels can be cute and fun to watch, until they start causing costly damage to your home. Among their favourite targets are the lead vent pipes many houses have protruding from their roofs. Squirrels like to chew on metal to file their constantly growing teeth. The lead, which is a preferred covering for vent pipes because it's long-lasting and rustproof, is soft enough for squirrels to chew through. This damage allows water to seep between the vent pipe and your roof and leaks can quickly develop and cause extensive damage. Preventing the damage is much less expensive than repairing it.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Saw
  • Sheet metal
  • Gloves
  • Metal wire
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Sheet metal screws
  • Metal bonding adhesive
  • Ladder
  • Galvanised steel hardware cloth
  • Wire cutters
  • Small animal trap

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    General Prevention

  1. 1

    Remove things like bird feeders, bowls of pet food and open garbage cans, which attract squirrels.

  2. 2

    Trim branches and limbs, or remove trees that provide squirrels easy access to your roof.

  3. 3

    Purchase a live trap from a hardware or hunting supply store to trap nuisance squirrels. Place a small piece of bread outside the trap and a larger piece on the trap's treadle, which trips the trap. Transport the trapped squirrel to a wooded area several miles from your home and release.

    Protecting the Pipe

  1. 1

    Fabricate a sleeve out of heavy sheet metal to place over your lead vent pipe by rolling a piece of sheet metal slightly larger than the circumference of your pipe. Another option is to purchase a piece of stove pipe or other galvanised metal pipe to slip over the vent pipe.

  2. 2

    Secure the roll with metal adhesive.

  3. 3

    Create a tent-shaped cover by cutting a square about three times larger than the pipe circumference from a piece of sheet metal and bending in the middle to form a 90-degree angle. Attach to the top of the pipe with metal adhesive or sheet metal screws. Leave ends open.

  4. 4

    Roll a piece of galvanised hardware cloth slightly larger than your pipe and attach with metal wire. Cut a circle to fit the roll's circumference and attach to the top. Slip over your vent pipe to create a squirrel-proof cage for the pipe.

    Keeping Squirrels Out of Trees

  1. 1

    Measure the circumference of a tree that provides squirrels access to your roof.

  2. 2

    Purchase a piece of sheet metal two or three feet wide and long enough to wrap around the tree trunk, allowing some overlap to accommodate tree growth.

  3. 3

    Mark the tree circumference measurement on the metal and create holes in the metal with a hammer and nail about a foot apart.

  4. 4

    Secure the band around the tree, six feet off the ground, with metal wire or sheet metal screws. The band may also be held in place around the tree with bungee cord.

  5. 5

    Loosen yearly to allow for tree growth.

Tips and warnings

  • Use extreme caution when climbing on your roof as this can lead to serious, and even fatal, falls and accidents.
  • Always wear leather or other heavy duty gloves when handling sheet metal since it can cause severe cuts.

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