Dryer Vent Screens & Keeping Out The Mice

A few weeks ago I was participating in one of the home improvement Internet forums when an issue with mice getting into the house came up.

It reminded me of the same situation we had last fall in our home.

We found one dead mouse in the basement powder room ceiling fan.

We found another one, also dead, in a drawn in the same room.

What gives? Was the noise of the home renovation projects attracting the mice? Unlikely.

Or, was the cool weather of the fall causing the vermin to look for a winter home. More likely.

What we did find, with certainty, was how the mice were getting into the house.

A broken dryer vent cover.

laundryroom Dryer Vent Screens & Keeping Out The Mice

Above is a picture of the front of our home, specifically to the left of the front door (yes, that front door). The window you see is to the main floor laundry room. If you look closely  in the lower left of that picture you will see two white squares on the wall to the lower left of the left most Pyramid Yew.

outside vent covers Dryer Vent Screens & Keeping Out The Mice

The vent cover to the right is for the dryer inside the laundry room.

The vent cover to the left is for the basement powder room’s ceiling fan.

What had happened is that, as far as we could tell, the original (or close to the original) vent covers for both the laundry room dryer and the basement powder room’s ceiling fan had not been changed, ever. Both were certainly broken.

The vent cover for the basement powder room’s ceiling fan was sufficiently broken to allow mice to enter.

So, I went to our neighbourhood building supply store and purchased replace both of the vent covers.

Most of the homes we have lived in have not had vents so close to the ground. However, both of these were placed so close to the side garden that they needed to have the covering so vermin could not enter.

outside vent cover Dryer Vent Screens & Keeping Out The Mice

Above is a picture of the vent cover for the basement powder room’s ceiling fan. Notice two things. First when the fan in the powder room is not pushing air out of the house that the three horizontal vent flaps are closed.

outside screened vent cover Dryer Vent Screens & Keeping Out The Mice

Second, a closer look will show the screen that resides just in side the horizontal flaps to let the air out but help block the mice from entering the vent.

And, third, notice the rather sloppy caulking all around the edges of the vent cover. This is one situation, however, when excessive caulking is better than too little so no gaps exist to let bugs inside IMO.

So, the next time you have mice or other vermin entering your house, check your vent covers in case they are broken or missing screens.

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Comments

  1. Vasile says:

    Hi!

    Don’t you think that the screen spaces are a little too big for keeping mice out? AFAIK, mice can squeeze through a hole as small as a pencil.
    Regards,
    Vasile

  2. Dan says:

    Vasile,

    Thanks for the comments. Here is where my head it at. The plastic horizontal covers prevent the mice from getting in through the mesh when the dryer is not on.

    When the dryer is on there is a lot of hot dryer air pushing out the plastic vertical cover strips.

    I can’t see mice wanting to go against the hot air to try and squeeze through if they can.

    So far after a full year, all I can say is .. no mice.

    Dan

    • blair says:

      Mice have been coming in through my dryer vent only when the fryer IS running. After 2 months of detective work I found the issue. We had been feeding birds close to the house and close to the dryer vent. The mice moved in under the deck october 2015 and I trapped 7 within 3 days. By mid november I had trapped 2 in my basement and by end of december trapped 2 more in basement. Then I saw droppings in the laundry room, placed a trap and within 30 minutes I had a mouse. 3 more mice within 2 days trapped. The mice had eaten a 5 inch diameter hole in the foil, flexible dryer hose where it attaches to the dryer. They had also eaten 7 holes into the flexible dryer hose as evidenced by my inspection from the basement. As it turns out, mice would come throughout the outside dryer vent when the dryer was running. They couldn’t come in when the dryer wasn’t running because the flap worked. I live in a cold winter climate and when the dryer runs it melts the snow and the mice sense the heat. It’s cold out so as the dryer is running they follow the source of the heat and they have no problem crawling against the flow of warm air as it isn’t that powerful. The central vac exhaust vent is a different story. When the central vac is running the exhaust air is blowing quite strongly, to the point I don’t believe a mouse would try to enter the house through that opening. BAck to the dryer vent. I made a wood framed square to attach steel wire mesh (1/4 inch chicken wire) to it. Then I attached the wooden frame over the dryer vent and screwed it to the house. I made it big enough that it will catch any dryer lint without plugging up the exhaust vent and will be easy to see. Also visible enough to se if any ice build up occurs. For a little payback I also rigged up another line of defence. I got 1/2 inch pine and cut it so that it fit around the dryer vent and the new mesh attachment. In each length of pine wood I embedded small pieces that I broke off from razor blades. On each length of wood (approx. 8 inches on the sides and 5 inches on the top and bottom) I have about 20 razor blade pieces sticking out of the wood in such a pattern as to be impossible to traverse it without slicing something. My dryer vent is extremely difficult to get at now but if one of them figures out a way then they’ll be met with the metal screen mesh. I debating laying 5 lbs of salt on the ground under the vent and the razor blades for a little extra oomph on the pain level should a mouse make a bad choice and try out my system. I don’t want to hear any comments about being cruel to these disease carrying rodents. They started it, I’ve declared war and war is never pretty! lol I’m thinking about hooking up a 9 volt battery to metal I would pay over the wood frame mesh just for another layer of “screw you” to the mice? That way I could draw blood, cook them and have them all nice and salty and ready to eat!

  3. A says:

    Putting them higher up doesn’t always help either.
    Our neighbourhood has had many problems with birds getting into the vents. The covers most people had didn’t have the mesh screen; only the flaps. If one of the flaps gets broken, falls off or stuck open… in flys the birds and they start nesting inside.
    Some (birds) even go as far as lifting up the little flaps to get in.
    Cheerio!
    A

  4. Elaine says:

    Dan, thanks for the pics, this is a huge help. I have a dryer vent with the plastic flaps just like yours. Question, how is the mesh screen (hardware cloth maybe?) affixed to the plastic vent?

  5. Dan says:

    Hi Elaine (I used to teach once with an Elaine from Tennessee).

    It is all one piece…..nothing to have to manually attach.

    I purchased it at the local Home Depot in our area.

    I hope that helps and thank you for visiting our site.

    Dan

  6. Karen says:

    I have just had this problem with finding a mouse in my kitchen. I thought I had been hearing things in the dryer vent but couldn’t eve be sure…until now!. So I have checked and sure enough the vent outside needs to be replaced. But in doing some checking on the DIY web site, it says never put a screen over this vent. So, I’m confused. Does the size you have used here still allow whatever lent needs to come out…come out and not cause a hazard??

    TIA

    Karen

  7. Dan says:

    Hi Karen,

    First, optimal home /renovation design should never IMO cause a dryer vent to be placed less than several feet from the ground for just this very reason. Mu gosh but ours is less than 3 inches from ground level. Geesh.

    The vent was already installed when we purchased the house.

    So, using the vent with the built-in screen is needed IMO to keep the mice and other vermin out of the house. Yes, they will be looking for warmer places to live when the weather turns colder.

    We have had ours installed now for 2+ years and have never had a problem. We do see a little lint come out and we simply remove it. One does need to make sure that, just like the lint trap within the dryer itself, that the air from the dryer has an unobstructed access out of the home (unless one has one of those fancy ‘heat traps’ installed where the heat is kept in the home to help humidify it during the dry winter months. For someone who knows what they are doing it can work; I have just not experienced it myself.

    So, I just make sure that the link does not accumulate. So far it has been miniscule amount.

    I hope our experience helps,
    Dan

  8. Karen says:

    Thanks Dan. I did install a new (actually everything – what a pathetic job the builders did!) outside vent that came with the screen attached. I also went as far as to add a little more screening to it, just to be on the safe side. Don’t care to deal with that again! I will check it on a regular basis, not only for lint, but just to make sure all is well. Glad to hear you haven’t had any problems in 2 years!

    Karen

  9. Dan says:

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks very much for returning to let me (and all of us) know how you made out.

    Dan

  10. Sharon says:

    Dan:
    Where did you purchase the dryer vent cover?

    • Dan Powell says:

      Hi Sharon,
      I believe I purchased it at the Home Depot.

      It was a few years ago but I think that’s where I bought it.

      Dan

  11. Steve says:

    Have dryer vent with screen and cover. Problem is screen size is very small and gets clogged-tried everything to clean it doesnt work.
    Can I cut away the screen and replace it with a larger screen? Will this keep mice out? The cover that opens when dryer is on is flimsy and I think rodents would be able to open it
    Let me know your thoughts- I plan on cutting away screen, buying bigger one and glueing over location of old one- does that sound like a good solution?

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