A HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Steel Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard installed on the side of a home with faux stone siding

A Comprehensive Guide to Dryer Vent Covers

Home ventilation is a delicate process. You want air to be able to circulate through your house to avoid stagnation, but you also want to avoid providing entry points for weather and wildlife. This delicate balance is a constant tension for homeowners.

When it comes to dryer ventilation, most vents terminate through the side of a home, providing a gaping hole for snow, rain, and critters to gain access. As a result, it’s very common for home builders and contractors to install outside dryer vent covers over a dryer exhaust vent.

But what are these covers, anyway? Why do you need one, and what are they made of? How many types of exterior dryer vent covers are out there — and what kind should you get?

As the manufacturers of quite a few makes and models of dryer vent covers, we want to answer those questions for you (and more).

By the time you’re finished here, you’ll know what kinds of dryer vent covers there are, what size you need, and what type is the best fit for your dryer exhaust vent.

What Is a Dryer Vent Cover?

A HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Steel Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard installed over a hood-style dryer vent cover on a house with beige siding

A dryer vent cover goes over the spot where the dryer exhaust vent exits your home. They’re designed to allow the air that goes through the dryer (as it runs) to vent out of the home properly while keeping out animals like squirrels, birds, bats, mice, and rats.

They’re also designed to maximize airflow to keep dryer lint moving properly through the dryer vent. Dryer lint accumulation is dangerous; if enough gathers at the base of your dryer, it could get too close to the heating filaments and cause a dryer fire.

Dryer vent covers may not look like much, but their dual functions as a ventilation tool and wildlife exclusion device make them a versatile and vital component on any home.

Do You Need a Dryer Vent Cover?

If your home (or apartment or condo) has a dryer, then yes, it’s strongly recommended that you have a dryer vent cover.

Like roof vents, soffit vents, and foundation vents, dryer vent ports offer animals and insects the opportunity to get into your home. An outside dryer vent cover is a simple, cost-effective solution that works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What Materials are Dryer Vent Covers Made Of?

From left to right, a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Steel Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard, Universal Vent Guard, and Plastic Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard

Dryer vent covers are typically made of one of three materials:

  1. Plastic
  2. Aluminum
  3. Steel

Plastic, depending on how the vent cover is made, are a decent animal deterrent at best, and pretty much useless at worst. Some animals can bypass plastic very easily and get into your dryer vent.

Aluminum dryer vent covers (on the whole) tend to be more effective than plastic, but some critters (like squirrels, mice, and rats) can still chew through them and gain access.

Steel dryer vent covers, on the other hand, are incredibly effective as wildlife exclusion devices when installed properly. Animals won’t be able to tear them off or chew through them no matter how hard they may try.

What Types of Dryer Vent Covers Are There?

There are several kinds of dryer vent covers, but to simplify things, we’ll break them down into three common types:

  1. Dryer vent covers with louvers
  2. Hood-style dryer vent covers
  3. Bolt-on dryer vent covers

Dryer Vent Covers with Louvers

A white dryer vent cover with open louvers installed on the side of a house with wood siding with peeling powder blue paint

Dryer vent covers with louvers are very common, but they also offer minimal critter protection. The louvers open as air from the dryer exits the vent, and they stay closed when no air is moving through them. Outside air blowing toward the house can’t open the louvers; they only open in one direction.

These louvers are designed to keep critters out in theory, but in practice, they don’t exclude wildlife very well. Most critters can pop the louvers off simply by pulling on them or chewing through them, both gaining access and allowing future access to other animals.

Hood-style Dryer Vent Covers

A black, aluminum, hood-style dryer vent cover installed on a home with white siding

Hood-style dryer vent covers work based on angles. The opening of the vent cover is perpendicular to the exhaust vent, meaning critters have to climb up through the vent cover and into the vent. Some hood-style covers even come with a circular, aluminum louver for an extra layer of protection.

These hood-style dryer vent covers probably provide better protection than covers with louvers, but animals can still get past them. They use their claws to climb up the vent with little to no issue, and even if the vent has an aluminum louver, critters will chew right through it.

Bolt-on Dryer Vent Covers

A man installing a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Plastic Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard on a house with beige siding

Bolt-on dryer vent covers are usually installed as an additional layer of protection on top of a louvered cover or a hood-style cover. Whether they’re made of plastic or steel, they’re the most effective animal exclusion dryer vent cover.

Since they bolt directly into the brick or siding of your house, they don’t even provide critters the opportunity to get near the exhaust vent, let alone into it. Wildlife also has trouble biting through the thick plastic and has no chance to chew through a steel bolt-on dryer vent cover.


At HY-C, we manufacture a variety of dryer vent covers under our HY-GUARD EXCLUSION brand. All of these covers are the bolt-on variety, meant to be used on their own or in conjunction with a louvered or hood-style vent cover.

Below are the dryer vent covers produced under the HY-GUARD EXCLUSION brand, the sizes and color(s) they come in, the materials they’re made from, and more.

Steel Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard

A man opening a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Steel Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard installed on a house with stone siding

Available in two sizes — a 6-inch width for 4-inch vents and an 8-inch width for 6-inch vents — the Steel Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard bolts over a dryer exhaust using three bolts (one on the top and two on each side).

Its most prominent feature is its hinge-style opening which locks closed to prevent animal intrusion and opens easily to allow for dryer vent cleaning. Its steel construction ensures critters can’t pull it off or chew through it.

Plastic Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard

A HY-GUARD EXCLUSION 8-inch and 6-inch Plastic Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard side by side against a white background

The plastic version of the Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard also comes in a 6-inch width for 4-inch vents and an 8-inch width for 6-inch vents.

The 6-inch version features keyhole-style attachment points that slide onto the bolts and lock into place. This attachment style allows for easy removal for dryer vent cleaning access (but not so easy that animals can figure out how to take it off).

The 8-inch version, on the other hand, features the same hinge-style opening method of the Steel Dryer Vent Exhaust VentGuard, so you never have to remove it from the side of your house.

Both styles come in three colorswhite, tan, and brown — to match the desired aesthetic of your home. While they’re made of plastic, they’re thick enough to avoid damage from animals, and their bolt-on attachment style means they’ll stay on securely.

Universal VentGuard

A HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Universal Vent Guard installed over a louvered vent guard on a house with gray siding

Our Universal VentGuard is arguably the toughest exterior dryer vent cover we make. It’s made from stainless steel, and it features a ⅝” mesh that’s tight enough to keep even the smallest critters out while still allowing enough airflow out of the dryer exhaust vent.

It doesn’t feature a hinge-style opening, but it does bolt on using the keyhole-style attachment points, so it can slide on and off easily enough for vent cleaning. It’s designed to cover most 3-inch and 4-inch vent openings and/or louver-style covers.

Which Dryer Vent Cover Should You Get?

It’s probably clear by now that there’s more to dryer vent covers than first meets the eye. From sizes to materials to even the color of the cover, there’s so much to consider before choosing the right one.

So — which one should you get?

It’s likely that your home came pre-installed with louver-style dryer vent covers. These covers — while handy — offer the bare minimum level of protection against critters. Just about any animal out there will be able to remove them with little effort.

For a more robust level of protection, it may be wise to invest in a bolt-on style cover. Between plastic and steel, 6-inch and 8-inch sizes, and even some color options, HY-GUARD EXCLUSION offers plenty of bolt-on vent covers to exclude animals from just about any dryer vent.

If you want the best level of protection to keep critters out of your dryer vent, give them a try. They’re easy to install, and they’re likely to last for as long as you own your home.

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A racoon poking out of a gable attic vent on the side of a house with white siding

How to Deal with an Animal in Your Attic

Having an animal (or multiple animals) in your attic is an unpleasant experience. They make noise at all hours of the day and night, they break things, they leave waste behind, and — maybe worst of all — they can get out of the attic and into the rest of your home.

Whether you’re a new homeowner or a veteran homeowner, it can feel overwhelming when a wild animal finds its way into your living space.

You’re left asking questions like, “How did it get in? How many are up there? How do I go about getting them out of my home?”

We know how stressful the experience can be. At HY-C, we manufacture HY-GUARD EXCLUSION, a robust line of covers and guards designed to keep animals out of homes. We understand a lot about how animals invade houses, and we want to tell you exactly how to deal with them so you don’t have to worry.

In this guide, we’ll cover what kind of animals tend to get into attics and how they get in. We’ll also tell you how to get them out and, just as importantly, how to keep them out.

By the time you’re done here, you’ll have all the information you need to get — and keep — critters out of your attic.

What Kinds of Animals Get into Attics?

A colony of a few dozen bats hanging upside down on a rock surface

In short, just about anything. Any seasoned wildlife control operator can share horror stories about animals from across the spectrum getting into attics. But some are more common than others.

The animals that tend to find their way into attics most often include:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Red squirrels
  • Gray squirrels
  • Flying squirrels
  • Raccoons
  • Bats

The animals to which your attic is most vulnerable may vary depending on where you live, what the weather is like there, and a number of other environmental factors.

How Do Animals Get into an Attic?

Which animals get in is pretty straightforward; how they get in is a bit more of a complex topic. Houses need ventilation to keep air circulating properly. Vents allow for this airflow, but they also leave vulnerable openings for critters to exploit.

Animals may get in simply through damaged sections of a home; a mouse can squeeze into a hole in a roof just a little wider than the width of a pencil.

That said, there are four common entry points animals use to get into attics:

  1. Dormers
  2. Gable vents
  3. Ridge vents
  4. Static roof vents


A steep roof with dark brown terracotta shingles with two white dormers sticking out against the background of a blue sky

Dormers jut out from a roof. They’re walled structures that contain a window and an overhang above that window. As animals (like mice, rats, or squirrels) find their way onto roofs, they notice that this overhang provides overhead protection from flying predators.

Most overhangs on these dormers aren’t sealed completely tightly. As critters take cover in the dormer, they notice vulnerable openings and either squeeze or chew their way through. From there, they gain access to the attic.

Gable Vents

A half-circle gable vent against gray siding and a pointed roof with a blue sky in the background

Gable vents are vital for attic ventilation. They allow air to flow in one side and out the other, avoiding stagnation and dissipating heat buildup on hot summer days.

They’re also a vulnerable entry point for animals to get into an attic, though. Most gable vents are made from relatively flimsy materials that animals can just push right past. Some have screens on the inside that do help keep bugs out, but these screens won’t do much to stop a determined raccoon.

Ridge Vents

Ridge vents on a roof with gray shingles and a suburban neighborhood in the background

Ridge vents exist for the same reason gable vents do: they help facilitate proper attic ventilation. As with gable vents, though, ventilation means openings, and openings mean critters can find their way in.

These vents are located at the peak of the roof, and they’re arguably one of the easiest entry points for wildlife to get into an attic. As the roof settles over time and seasonal temperature swings cause the roof to expand in the heat and contract in the cold, the vents warp, allowing in animals.

Static Vents

A close-up of a black, static roof vent protruding from a roof with gray shingles

Static roof vents come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: like gable vents and ridge vents, they provide additional airflow to an attic. Most of them are created with some form of animal exclusion in mind, but the level of protection tends to be minimal.

Static vents tend to be made of weak materials like aluminum that won’t offer enough protection against chewing from squirrels, mice, rats, or raccoons. Like gable vents, they also have bug screen installed in a lot of cases and, like gable vents, they just can’t stop animals from getting in.

Signs of Animals in Your Attic

Some signs of animals having invaded an attic will be obvious, but others are a bit more subtle than you may expect. When it comes to determining whether or not you have an attic full of critters, there tend to be two ways to tell: looking and listening.

Detecting Animals in an Attic by Sound

Different animals make different noises in an attic. A mouse makes different sounds than a squirrel; a raccoon makes different noises than a bat. Listening for animals above your ceiling is a bit like diagnosing a car with engine trouble — the type of noise gives clues as to the type of animal that may be up there.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of some sounds to look out for:

  • Heavy thumping (like someone dragging suitcases around above you) may indicate raccoons
  • Skittering or scratching all day and night may indicate mice
  • A flurry of scratching only at dusk and dawn may indicate flying squirrels
  • Scampering sounds on and off throughout the day (and not at night) may indicate red squirrels

Pay attention to the type of noise you hear, the time of day (or night) at which it occurs, and how frequently you hear it. Relay this information to a wildlife control operator.

How Do You Keep Pests Out of Your Home CTA

Detecting Animals in an Attic Visually

Obviously if you poke your head up into your attic and see an animal, that’s confirmation enough. But even if they’re hiding up there, there are some things you can look out for that may indicate the presence of a critter.

Check the entry points listed above (dormers, gable vents, ridge vents, and static vents) for signs of damage or chewing. Damaged vents are a good indicator that a critter may have forced their way in.

You may also inspect these areas for trails of discoloration. Animals are dirty; their fur is oily, and they tend to track feces behind them. A stain near a hole in a vent is a pretty good bet that something with four legs has been coming and going.

Finally, you can peek up into your attic and check the insulation. If it’s disturbed, discolored, or you see animal feces, there’s a good chance that one’s been nesting up there.

What to Do if There Is an Animal in Your Attic

A gray squirrel standing on its hind legs on a stack of wooden boards with a gray tarp hanging in the background

If you’re hearing noises above your ceiling, your roof vents are damaged, or you see any other signs of an animal’s presence in your attic, there are four things you should do immediately to take care of the problem:

  1. Call a wildlife control operator. These professionals are well-versed in local animal laws and the habits of critters in your area. They know exactly what is needed to diagnose which animal is in your house and how to remove it.
  2. Repair any damage to your home. You’ll have to fix any damage the critters may have caused in your attic, but you’ll also need to fix the damage to the entry point those critters used to get in there in the first place (or else they’ll just come right back).
  3. Add exclusion devices to the entry point the animal used. Repairing the damage is a start, but if you really want to keep critters out, you’ll have to add additional exclusion protection to your roof vents.
  4. Add exclusion devices to any other potential entry points. Covering just the initial entry point won’t be enough. Animals have a strong sense of smell, and they’ll know that other critters called your attic home at one point. They’ll want to move in themselves.

How Do You Keep Animals Out of Your Attic?

A critter invading your attic is an unsettling thought. Animals wreak havoc, carry diseases, and even multiply, causing even more damage.

By now, though, you know what kind of animals tend to invade attics, how they get in, how to look and listen for them, and even what to do if you wind up with a critter in your living space.

As with most things in life, preventing problems is often a lot easier than having to fix them. If you want to get ahead of animals invading your attic, consider adding some kind of wildlife exclusion devices to your home. The best part is that these devices aren’t limited just to roofs and attics; they’re designed to keep pests out of any of the vulnerable spots on your home.

In most cases, a seasoned wildlife control operator can install them, covering everything from your chimney to your foundation to your dryer vent. Wildlife exclusion devices aren’t necessarily the most fun or exciting purchase, but they will go a long way toward saving you costly, frustrating headaches down the road.

How to Keep Wildlife Out of Your Chimney CTA
A man with a yellow drill installing a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION foundation vent screen over a foundation vent on a brick wall

The Benefits of Foundation Vent Covers

A hole in a home any bigger than the diameter of a nickel is going to cause problems. Animals will exploit that hole for shelter and warmth, and as they come and go, the hole can get bigger and bigger, leading to even larger animals getting in.

A foundation vent is a vulnerable spot for exactly this kind of hole and, as a result, critters often creep into a house’s crawl space through a foundation vent to wreak havoc. Foundation vent covers help to nip this issue in the bud, excluding animals from sneaking into the vent in the first place.

But how do these covers work? What are they made from? And how well do they work, anyway?

In this guide, we’ll examine those questions and more. By the time you’re finished here, you’ll understand all the animal-related issues to which a foundation vent is prone, and how putting on one of these vent covers now will save you from a lot of trouble in the long run.

What Are Foundation Vents?

An uncovered foundation vent on the side of a home showing an exposed crawl space

Foundation vents often come built-in with homes that have crawl spaces. These crawl spaces usually contain some of the home’s HVAC ductwork, plumbing pipes, or both for easy access in case repairs need to be made.

If left unventilated, the air in a crawl space will grow stagnant. Still air results in heating and cooling problems in the home. It also results in moisture accumulation, which in turn causes mold and mildew to grow in the crawl space and spread into the rest of the house.

Foundation vents solve these issues by allowing outside air to filter through. These vents are usually installed on opposite ends of the crawl space, letting the air pass in through one side and out through the other, promoting good circulation to keep mold at bay.

Do Foundation Vents Work?

Can foundation vents aid with air circulation? Absolutely.

But while they solve the ventilation issue, foundation vents lead to another problem: they can allow animals in. Most foundation vents come standard with a cheap, aluminum cover that doesn’t pose much of a challenge to even small critters.

Even if one curious mouse takes the time to squeeze through a cheap, stock foundation vent cover, that mouse will leave behind a big enough hole for a squirrel to fit through, which will leave enough space for a raccoon to invade, and suddenly your crawl space is host to an entire zoo.

Problems Posed by Animals in a Crawl Space

A mouse squeezing into a hole in a wooden wall that has four insulated electrical wires protruding from it

If animals do manage to get into a crawl space through a foundation vent, most homeowners don’t know about them until after they’ve been there for weeks (or even months). Critters can cause a lot of damage during that time.

Most homeowners are tipped off to the presence of an animal in a crawl space by smell — either the smell of an animal carcass or the smell of an especially potent animal like a skunk. Animals also leave feces behind, which results in its own issues, aside from the smell.

Bat droppings can lead to histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that is transmitted through the air. Waste from raccoons can contain roundworm eggs that can cause heart, eye, and brain damage in humans. Squirrel droppings can carry salmonella. If an animal gets into your home and leaves excrement behind, it could cause serious health problems.

Critters in a crawl space might track in other, smaller critters with them, too. Raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and other common wildlife nuisances can bring in fleas, lice, and ticks that will have no problem invading the rest of your home.

Finally, these invasive critters can cause structural damage. Mice or rats can chew through wires, possibly resulting in electrical fires. Animals might also claw through and nest inside of your insulation. They may even cause damage to the floor or the HVAC system, giving them access to the rest of the home.

Foundation Vent Covers

Three HY-GUARD EXCLUSION foundation vent screens — one black, one gray, and one white — stagged on each other and staggered against a white background

Foundation vent covers go a long way to stopping these issues before they even start by providing a sturdy barrier to exclude wildlife. There are plenty of great brands out there that make foundation vent covers, but at HY-C, we manufacture both the Foundation Vent Screen and the XL Foundation Vent Screen under our HY-GUARD EXCLUSION brand.

These covers are made from galvanized steel with 18-gauge, ⅜” mesh openings that still allow air to circulate while preventing animals from getting in. The screens come with eight pre-drilled ¼” holes around the edges, allowing them to be bolted directly onto a home over a foundation vent. They offer much stronger protection than the stock aluminum covers.

Do HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Foundation Vent Covers Fit All Houses?

These covers certainly don’t fit every house; they can’t possibly account for every size of every foundation vent. They are, however, crafted to match common foundation vent sizes. By our estimates, one of our two sizes will fit a foundation vent 90% to 95% of the time.

The original Foundation Vent Screen measures 10.5” x 18.5”, while the XL Foundation Vent Screen measures 12.25” x 19.5”. One of these two vents will fit most use cases.

What Kind of Animals Do HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Foundation Vent Covers Keep Out?

It would probably be quicker to list the kinds of animals these vent covers can’t exclude; it would be virtually impossible for an adult human to rip one off, let alone a small critter. They’re capable of excluding common small and medium animals from homes, including:

  • Snakes
  • Squirrels
  • Bats
  • Raccoons
  • Opossums
  • Mice
  • Rats

Are There Any Limitations to HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Foundation Vent Covers?

While these covers are sturdy, easy to install, and effective at preventing wildlife from invading a crawl space, there are two notable caveats to them.

For one, they tend to be more expensive than similar products on the market, sometimes by more than double. When it comes to these kinds of covers, you essentially get what you pay for; if you want to spend less up front, you may or may not have to replace the cover more quickly due to damage. HY-GUARD EXCLUSION vents may cost more, but they’ll almost certainly last longer.

Another caveat is that, on their own, these vents don’t provide protection against stink bugs, bees, wasps, or other insects. The ⅜” mesh openings provide room for bugs to squeeze in. There is a simple solution, though — just attach some bug screen to your foundation vent cover when you install it.

Should You Get Foundation Vent Covers?

The last thing you want as a homeowner is an animal in your crawl space or any of the problems that come with it. Smells, feces, diseases, and structural damage are enough to keep new and veteran homeowners alike up at night.

Foundation vent covers go a long way to alleviating — or even eliminating — these problems altogether. Not all homes have foundation vents on them, but if yours does, and they’re currently uncovered, foundation vent covers may be right for you.

If you do want to cover your foundation vents, you have plenty of options available. And, if you’re interested in giving HY-GUARD EXCLUSION a try, we’ll be more than happy to help you find a store that sells our covers. We’re confident that they’re sturdy, versatile, and will keep the critters out, providing you with some long-term peace of mind.

But what about the rest of your home? There are plenty of other vulnerable spots that wildlife can squeeze into — a chimney, for instance. If you have a fireplace and want to keep it nuisance-free, our guide to keeping wildlife out of chimneys is a great place to start.

How to Keep Wildlife Out of Your Chimney CTA
A professional installer on a roof with a harness installing roof vent guards

3 Reasons Why Only Professionals Should Install Wildlife Exclusion Products

Paying for any house project (like landscaping, building a deck, installing new flooring, and plenty more) usually boils down to two factors: material and labor. It’s basically impossible to avoid paying for material, but DIY-inclined individuals may try to save some money by cutting out labor costs and completing a project themselves.

In a lot of cases, this is a clever way to hone your trade skills and keep your bank account intact. So, if you’re interested in preventative pest control solutions, the question naturally follows: “Should I try to install wildlife exclusion products on my own?”

It’s a fair question. After all, if someone can, say, install a new door on their house, why shouldn’t they try to put in their own pest control products?

At HY-C, we make our own line of wildlife exclusion caps, screens, and guards. We also work directly with wildlife control experts around the country to facilitate installation on homes everywhere, and the consensus is clear: the installation of wildlife exclusion devices is better left to wildlife control professionals rather than homeowners.

That statement may seem overly cautious to some readers. But in this guide, we’ll outline three reasons why it’s best not to install your own wildlife exclusion devices. By the time you’re finished, you’ll understand the nuances and expertise required to ensure the proper installation of these devices, and it will be clear why this kind of work is better left to the professionals.

Why You Shouldn’t Install Wildlife Exclusion Products on Your Own

Reason #1: Roofs Are Dangerous

Black galvanized roof vent guards installed on a residential rooftop

Quite a few wildlife control products (specifically chimney caps and roof vent guards) are installed on a home’s roof. And even if you’re comfortable up on your roof, there are plenty of reasons to avoid climbing that ladder and installing these caps and guards yourself.

First of all, roofs are dangerous. It should go without saying that a fall from a roof can lead to serious injury or even death. That risk is great enough on a single-story home; if you have a two- or three-story house, the probability of significantly harming yourself in a fall increases exponentially.

Roofs are also made with different slopes. Even a flat roof is dangerous enough (especially if you’re close to the edge), but some roofs may feature a slope of 45° or greater. The steeper your roof, the greater the chances of an accident.

Roofers, chimney sweeps, and wildlife control specialists utilize safety equipment to mitigate the risk of falling from a roof while doing their jobs. Between roofing-specific footwear, ladders, harnesses, and ropes, professionals have the gear they need to operate safely on a rooftop.

Even if you own that kind of gear yourself, professionals who work on roofs receive training on the proper use of the equipment and spend years practicing and perfecting their craft. At the end of the day, it’s best to stay off your roof and simply leave the installation of rooftop wildlife exclusion devices to the pros.

Reason #2: Wildlife Laws Vary Widely

A digital sign in black text in all capital letters against a white background with a square black boarder reading, "Wildlife is protected by federal and state law. Trespassing or harming wildlife may result in fines, imprisonment, or both."

Wildlife exclusion devices aren’t designed to capture animals; they’re designed to keep animals out of your house. What can happen if you install your own wildlife exclusion device, though, is that you may miss the signs of an animal’s presence in your home and accidentally seal them in. It’s at this point that you run into problems with your local, state, and even national wildlife control laws.

These laws are far too complex to delve into deeply here — they vary from state to state, or even city to city. But we can give you a few quick highlights of common wildlife legal problems courtesy of our wildlife control experts:

  • You’re generally not allowed to keep the animals you catch
  • In many cases, you can’t release captured animals on public land
  • Some states don’t allow captured animals to cross county lines
  • Some states don’t allow you even to capture animals at all (you can only exclude them)
  • Many states require the euthanasia of a captured animal

For these reasons, it’s important to allow a trained wildlife control operator to inspect your house for animals before installing exclusion devices. From there, that same expert (or another expert they’ve recommended) should install the exclusion equipment. Proper training and a keen understanding of local wildlife laws are prerequisites that only a wildlife control expert can offer.

Reason #3: Understanding Animal Behavior Requires Training

A raccoon stuck in a humane raccoon cage trap

One of the most important aspects of installing wildlife exclusion products is knowing how to install the right device at the right time for the right critter. Installing a screen with ⅝” mesh (instead of ⅜” mesh) on a foundation vent could result in mice or birds invading. Forgetting to attach some bug screen to a ⅜” mesh soffit vent could wind up allowing wasps and stink bugs into your attic.

Animals are crafty and resourceful. Once they’ve found a place to live and store food, they don’t want to give up on that spot — even if it’s right inside your chimney. Installing wildlife exclusion devices isn’t just about using the right hardware and the right drill bit; it’s about knowing critters’ habits and how to adapt to them.

Wildlife control professionals spend years learning about the animals they control, and the good ones become experts in those animals, acutely aware of what they like, how they act, and how to keep them out of peoples’ houses. For these reasons (and more), they’re best qualified to install exclusion products on your home.

What Kind of Wildlife Does (and Doesn't) HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Exclude?

How Can You Find Someone to Install Wildlife Exclusion Products?

You may have come to this article with some skepticism, but hopefully by now it’s clear why the installation of wildlife exclusion devices is better left to the professionals. Between the dangers of being on your roof without proper training and equipment, not understanding your local wildlife laws, and having little to no experience with animals’ behavior, there are plenty of reasons to defer to a wildlife control operator.

But where can you find one?

If you’re interested in installing HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’S animal exclusion screens, guards, caps, we’d be more than happy to point you in the direction of an operator in your area who can help. We’ve built up a great network of professionals who install our products (or products like them) all the time. Get in touch with our customer service team — they’ll be happy to assist you.

Mouse caught in a humane moustrap

How Do You Keep Pests Out of Your Home?

Most of us have been in this situation: some kind of pest — whether it’s a bug, a four-legged animal, or a bird — gets into your living space. You want it out of there as quickly as possible. An unwelcome spider, squirrel, or robin raises some uneasy questions, too — “How did it get in? Will more get in while I’m sleeping? Are there other critters hiding somewhere in my home right now?”

One of the best ways to avoid this mess is to prevent it from happening in the first place. At HY-C, we manufacture a line of guards and screens to do just that: keep animals and insects out before they can even get in. We’ve learned a lot about pest control while developing those products, and we want to share what we’ve learned with you.

By the time you’re done with this guide, you’ll have a grasp on some tried-and-true preventative methods of keeping pests of all shapes and sizes out of your home. And if by the end you’re interested in installing some preventative wildlife control devices on your home, we’ll show you where you can get started.

Exclude Pests with Pest Barriers

Man installing a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION foundation screen with a yellow drill

Pests get into your home the same way you do: they walk (or crawl or fly) through an opening. They like to get in for the same reasons as you, too — your house is warm, quiet, and offers protection from the outside world. If you want to keep the animals and insects out, you have to close (and lock) the door.

But not just the front door (although that helps). Most homes have some common openings on them that critters like to get into. These openings are necessary because they help to keep your home properly ventilated, but they are also the most likely source of a pest invasion. That’s why we created HY-GUARD EXCLUSION — to allow these openings to vent properly while keeping pests out at the same time.

Here are some of the most common home vents vulnerable to penetration from pests:

  • Chimneys
  • Roof vents
  • Soffit vents
  • Wall vents
  • Foundations

With pest barriers, you can cover these vents while maintaining their proper function. As long as the barriers you install are made from solid materials (like stainless or galvanized steel), they should hold up well in the long term.

Exclude Pests with Proper Home Maintenance

Caulk being applied between drywall and wall tile

From ants to bears, pests of any size have one thing in common: they find ways to get in. They’re crafty and determined, and unless you keep your home in tip-top shape, you’re always vulnerable to their presence.

Thankfully, though, pest entry points as a result of home damage are relatively well-known and consistent in their location, and we cover them below. All you need to do is check your house for holes and cracks, and repair them if you happen to find any.

Make Sure Pest Barriers Aren’t Damaged

If you decide to install pest exclusion screens and guards on your house, be sure to check them for damage every now and again. These products are usually made of metal and bolted onto your house with screws, acting as a strong deterrent to most curious critters.

Still, if they become damaged in any way (maybe by a strong storm or a particularly persistent animal), even the smallest opening can lead to a pest getting in. This will wear down an even larger opening, allowing bigger and bigger critters to invade over time. Stop this cycle in advance by ensuring your pest barriers remain tightly secure and damage-free.

Keep Siding, Masonry, and Windowsills in Good Shape

How often do you inspect your home’s siding? How often do you check for cracks in your brick? Do you spend much time looking at your window sills? Because these areas of a home tend to receive little to no attention, they’re prime spots for unnoticed deterioration.

Again, critters are crafty. They’ll discover these openings and set up camp in your house, potentially without you even noticing. Repair these areas before they become a problem. Make sure your siding is secure. Fill in any cracks in your brick (or hire a professional if you can’t do it yourself). Use sealant to close any gaps in your window sill. Make it impossible for animals or bugs to get in in the first place.

Inspect for Pest-Created Entry Points

Brick, siding, and windowsills tend to develop wear and tear over time. Pests discover these entry points on their own and just climb on through. In other instances, though, a determined pest will create their own entry point by clawing or chewing their way through your walls.

These entry points are easy to spot. The hole will look uneven and hastily made, as the critter is much more concerned with gaining entry than the aesthetics of the entryway itself. There may be animal droppings nearby or, if the hole is new enough, you may find dust or chunks of drywall, wood, or siding on the ground.

If you discover one of these animal-made holes in your house, you’ll have to contact a pest control professional to remove the critter and maybe even a contractor to repair the damage (though many wildlife and pest control professionals offer both removal and repair as part of their service packages).

Exclude Pests by Creating a Buffer Zone

A two-story house with a tall layer of shrubs around the perimeter

Whether you know it or not, oftentimes, when pests get onto your property or into your home, it’s because you’ve made it attractive for them to be there. Obviously this is most often done unintentionally. But either way, it’s vital to understand what attracts pests to your yard and home so you can start doing the exact opposite of those things.

Keep Vegetation Maintained

Pests love vegetation. From insects to animals, trees, bushes, and plants offer a source of protection and, in some cases, food. People like vegetation, too. We like trees in our yards, plants and bushes in our landscaping, and flowers in our houses and on our porches. Sometimes our shared love of foliage brings people and animals together in exactly the spots we don’t want.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t have nice landscaping if you want to avoid pests? No, of course not. But it does mean that you should keep your vegetation trimmed and, if possible, a good distance from your house. Don’t let critters use your hedges as a stepping stone to your front door.

Keep Your Lawn Maintained

Vegetation isn’t the only thing critters like to eat. Opossums, swallows, bats, and spiders all love to feast on bugs. And a lawn that isn’t properly maintained can create a breeding ground for a diverse number of insects. These bugs will bring bigger critters right to your yard to start feasting, creating a robust (and invasive) ecosystem.

The best way to prevent this food chain from developing is to get rid of the bugs through proper lawn maintenance. This includes planting grass that is native to your local area, mowing every seven to ten days, and aerating your lawn at least once a year. If you eliminate (or at least deter) insects, the larger critters will find your lawn less appealing.

Properly Dispose of Trash

We’ve all heard stories or seen pictures of raccoons rollicking in a trash can. They’re attracted to the smell of garbage, and they enjoy the easily accessible free food. And they’re not the only trash-loving animals out there; skunks, rats, squirrels, and opossums love digging through waste bins, too. Your week-old leftovers are their feast.

This problem is pretty easy to solve. Be sure all of your trash is in a tightly sealed bag to prevent the smell from wafting around. Make sure all the trash actually ends up in the trash can. That seems intuitive, but one misplaced apple core can lead critters to discovering the rest of your trash bin (and they’ll be sure to come back for seconds). If things get really bad, you can always install a lock on your trash can’s lid.

How Do You Secure Your Home Against Pests?

The thought of an unwelcome pest in the home can be scary. They can get in at any time if your home isn’t protected. By now, you should have a good understanding of what it takes to keep critters out of the house. Creating a buffer zone against pests and keeping your home properly maintained are relatively easy and effective if done consistently.

One of the best ways to keep pests out, though, is turning your home into a fortress. Pest barriers, when installed correctly, help you cover all your bases (quite literally), deterring animals in the least, and outright foiling their efforts to gain entry at best.

If you want to learn more about exclusion caps, screens, and guards, HY-GUARD EXCLUSION is an excellent place to start. These HY-C-created barriers cover the most common pest entry points, excluding pests from homes — top to bottom. They’re one of the many strong tools in your wildlife control toolbox that will help keep your home secure and pest-free.

A wildlife control professional installing a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION code-compliant dryer vent guard

What Kind of Wildlife Does (and Doesn’t) HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Exclude?

When you’re a homeowner, there’s no shortage of problems and maintenance issues to keep up with. One week, your faucet starts leaking and you need to call a plumber. The next week, you discover mold in the basement carpet and have to call a cleaning service. The freedom of homeownership means your house is yours — but the downside is that the upkeep and repairs are yours, too.

One home ownership problem we’re acutely aware of at HY-C is that of invasive wildlife. Raccoons, squirrels, bugs, you name it — depending on where you live, the threats are varied and vast. Our line of HY-GUARD EXCLUSION screens, caps, and guards are designed to mitigate and even eliminate the threats of local wildlife getting into your home.

But what kinds of critters can these exclusion products keep out? And, more importantly, what kinds of critters can’t they keep out? In this guide, we’ll cover exactly that. By the time you’re done, you’ll know the vulnerable entry points where animals and insects can get into a home, which HY-GUARD products will keep them out, and the limitations of those products. You’ll be ready to utilize exclusion products to keep the common local wildlife out of your home.

What Kind of Wildlife Gets in Your Chimney?

Starting at the very top of the house, the most vulnerable entry point for wildlife is the chimney flue. By far, the most common chimney invaders are raccoons. Raccoons are great climbers; so great, in fact, that they’re one of the only animals that can climb up and down a chimney flue. It’s not uncommon for a female raccoon to set up shop on a chimney’s smoke shelf and create a nest for her young.

The other critter most likely to invade a chimney is a chimney swift. These birds are different from other birds in that they hardly need any horizontal momentum to start flying. They can essentially take off from a standing start and, as a result, they tend to use the limited confines of a chimney as a safe spot to build their nests (hence their name).

Less common candidates to get into a chimney include bats, mice, and squirrels. Contrary to popular belief, bats don’t tend to make homes in chimneys; unlike chimney swifts, they can’t fly straight up, so if they wind up in a chimney, they’ll likely become trapped there. Same goes for squirrels and mice — neither can climb back up the chimney flue, so unless the flue tile itself is cracked (providing a spot to come and go), mice and squirrels will get stuck in a chimney.

The Solution: A Chimney Cap

Roofer installing a stainless steel HY-C single-flue bolt-on chimney cap onto a chimney flue

A chimney cap, with its solid top and diamond mesh sides, will keep raccoons, chimney swifts, and other birds from accessing your chimney flue while still providing enough ventilation for smoke from the fireplace to dissipate. Our Draft King and Shelter brand chimney caps are made from stainless steel and most of them are bolted onto the flue, meaning curious animals won’t be able to remove or damage them to gain access.

Critters That May Still Gain Access

Most chimney caps are made with a ¾” diamond mesh pattern that’s small enough to exclude most animals, especially bigger, roof-loving animals like squirrels and raccoons. This mesh is still wide enough (in theory) to let in a small bat or a baby mouse, though.

Despite the protection a chimney cap offers, the mesh openings are still vulnerable to insects, too, most commonly stink bugs, bees, and wasps.

What Kind of Wildlife Gets in Your Roof Vents?

Roof vents are vital for maintaining air circulation, which is pivotal for regulating temperature, preventing mold and particulate buildup, and promoting healthy breathing. These vents allow air in and out of your attic. They may also be connected to appliances in the home, like bathroom vent fans or stoves.

While the vents themselves are typically designed with animal exclusion in mind, that doesn’t stop certain critters from getting in — especially over time. Raccoons are strong and dextrous enough to peel vents open so they can slip through. Squirrels have strong enough teeth to chew through vents made of weaker metals (especially aluminum). Also, weather damage may create a hole or crease in a vent, providing just enough space for either animal to squeeze in.

The Solution: Roof Vent Guards

Roofing professional installing a HY-GUARD EXCLUSION roof vent guard on a roof with gray shingles

The vent itself is often not a good enough guard to keep animals out, so our HY-GUARD EXCLUSION line includes a variety of roof vent guards. These guards are made from stainless steel mesh and are installed over the vent as an added layer of protection. When installed and secured properly, they’ll keep out the raccoons and squirrels while still allowing your vents to function properly.

Critters That May Still Gain Access

Like chimney caps, HY-GUARD EXCLUSION roof vent guards are made with a few different mesh sizes: ⅝” at the largest and ¼” at the smallest. These sizes will keep out virtually any animal with four legs or wings, but you may still be vulnerable to wasps, bees, yellow jackets, stink bugs, or spiders (depending on which mesh size you choose).

There is a solution, though: simply add some bug screen mesh inside the vent itself before installing a roof vent guard. Many roof vents come with bug mesh pre-installed, but if yours doesn’t have it, adding it can go a long way towards keeping out insects.

What Kind of Wildlife Gets in Your Soffits?

Like roof vents, soffit vents exist to promote airflow (mostly to and from the home’s attic). While they’re usually made with small enough entry points to keep animals out, the problem with these vents lies with their materials. Many soffit vents are made from relatively weak materials like aluminum or plastic which tend to wear down or crack over time.

Raccoons love making homes inside of soffits. The area offers protection from the weather and predators, and it provides a great spot to raise offspring. Squirrels can get access to a damaged soffit vent too, usually by way of a nearby corner or windowsill. Even a mouse or a rat may find its way up into a soffit.

The Solution: Soffit Vent Screens

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION soffit guards installed over soffit vent openings on a home

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION soffit vent screens are made from stainless steel (like most products we offer). They’re also drilled directly into the soffit through pre-cut holes. This combination means that curious critters can’t bite through them or rip them off of the house, ensuring your soffit and attic stay raccoon- and squirrel-free.

Critters That May Still Gain Access

Despite the sturdy materials and construction style, HY-GUARD EXCLUSION soffit vent screens are made exclusively with ⅜” mesh. While this will keep out raccoons, mice, rats, squirrels, and birds, the soffit is still vulnerable to wasps, bees, yellow jackets, stink bugs, and spiders.

Even still, similarly to the roof vent guards, the threat from insects can be mitigated with a bit of bug screen. Luckily, bug screens are easy to cut through. Just cut out a few pieces that are the same size as the soffit vent cover and screw them both into the soffit.

What Kind of Wildlife Gets in Your Dryer Vents?

The most common type of wall vent on a home is a dryer vent. Dryers work by moving lots of hot air through the tumbler, and that air needs somewhere to go. A hose on the back of the dryer connects to a wall vent, allowing gasses to exit out of the side of the house.

A lot of dryer vents feature hanging louvers on them — a clever design that allows the vent to open up as air rushes out, but keeps it closed off to bugs and critters when the dryer isn’t running. Unfortunately, though, those louvers are made of plastic and can be easily broken by animals.

Birds are far and away the most likely critter to invade a dryer vent — specifically, European starlings. This invasive species of birds love to get into places where they don’t belong, and they often make nests in dryer vents. Even if they leave your vent alone after a while, it will still be damaged after their occupation, leaving it open to mice, squirrels, and other common animals.

The Solution: Dryer Vent Guards

A white universal code-compliant dryer vent guard installed on a house with stone siding

A European starling may be able to chip away at the plastic louvers of a dryer vent, but they won’t be able to get past a stainless steel dryer vent guard. Bolted directly onto the side of the house, these guards will not just keep out birds, but also squirrels, mice, rats, or other small animals common in your area.

Critters That May Still Gain Access

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’s dryer vent guards come in two styles: one with ⅜” mesh, and another with vertical bars. The diamond mesh style will essentially exclude everything except for bees, wasps, stink bugs, and yellow jackets, but the louvers on the vent itself (provided they’re not damaged) should keep those out just fine.

The style with the vertical bars excludes birds, but it only acts as a deterrent to everything else, meaning bats, squirrels, mice, and rats can still break through its defenses if they’re determined enough. It’s also important to note that some of these vertical bar-style vents are made from plastic, a relatively vulnerable material that some pests might be able to break through.

What Kind of Wildlife Gets in Your Foundation Vents?

Roof vents provide ventilation to a home’s attic. Foundation vents provide ventilation to a basement or crawl space, and ventilation in these spaces is equally important. Due to their low location, though, foundation vents are perhaps some of the most vulnerable points of entry on a house. Any ground animal that gets curious enough can find its way in.

Foundation vents typically make homes for the usual suspects (i.e., squirrels, skunks, raccoons, opossums, etc.). Depending on the size of the vent and the strength of its material, though, animals of all sizes may get in. It’s rare, but there are documented incidents of full-sized bears invading crawl spaces and hibernating there during the winter.

The Solution: Foundation Vent Screens

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION foundation vent guard installed on the side of a brick house by an installer using a yellow drill

Like the soffit screens mentioned earlier, foundation screens are bolted on over foundation vents. They allow air to continue to circulate in the basement or crawl space while preventing small and large animals alike from getting in.

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’s selection of foundation vent screens come standard with ⅜” diamond mesh and a stainless steel construction. They’ll keep out anything from squirrels to skunks and opossums to raccoons — even bears.

Critters That May Still Gain Access

It should be clear by now that diamond mesh is great at keeping animals out, but it has a bit more trouble keeping insects out. Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and stink bugs can still get through our foundation screens and into a basement or crawl space. Since foundation vents are near to the ground, you should also be mindful of smaller insects like ants and spiders.

However, similarly to the soffit vents and roof vents, all you need is a little bug screen. Just cut it to fit and attach it along with the foundation vent guard during installation.

Is HY-GUARD EXCLUSION the Right Fit for Your Home?

Keeping your home under control is a war with a lot of battles, and keeping critters out is one of the toughest battles of all. There are so many points of entry for a diverse list of wildlife to make their way through, and accounting for all of them can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, at this point, you should have a good understanding of those entry points and how to barricade them. From here, the best thing for you to do is determine what your house has:

  • A chimney
  • Roof vents
  • Soffit vents
  • Wall (dryer) vents
  • Foundation vents

It’s also a good idea to take an inventory of the local wildlife. Do you have squirrels in your area? Lots of raccoons? Stink bugs? Or different animals and insects altogether?

Once you know your home’s vulnerable spots and are aware of the common types of invasive species in your area, it’s up to you to decide which points of entry you’d like to guard against which species. Finally, take that information to a wildlife control professional in your area. They’re trained in exclusion products, and they’ll be able to install all the screens and guards you need to keep your home pest-free.

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Roof Vent Guard Installation


Proper ventilation is essential for any home. Whether it’s air being drawn in through your soffits, into the attic, and out through the roof vents or outlets for appliances like a dryer or fireplace, keeping fresh, clean air is important for the health of the home and the homeowners alike.

Unfortunately, though, ventilation comes with tradeoffs. Ventilation means holes in your home, and holes in your home mean any number of unwelcome guests could creep through. From small or medium-sized animals to crawling, flying, and stinging insects, the last thing homeowners want is for outside wildlife to get inside the house.

The solution to keeping wildlife out comes in the form of exclusion products. And while there are plenty of great brands on the market, at HY-C, we manufacture HY-GUARD EXCLUSION: a line-up of wildlife control products engineered to keep critters out of your home while still allowing that all-important air circulation to take place.

But what kinds of products are in the line? How do they work? And what are they made of? In this guide, we’ll answer those questions (and more) to help familiarize you with what wildlife control products are and what they do. By the time you’re done, you’ll know exactly what kind of pests to keep out and how you can stop them from getting into your home.

What Kind of Wildlife Control Products Does HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Make?

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION products have multiple purposes and keep out all kinds of critters, but each product falls into one of three distinct categories:

  1. Exclusion caps
  2. Exclusion screens
  3. Exclusion guards

Exclusion Caps


Exclusion caps are made exclusively to sit atop chimneys. There are two varieties of exclusion caps: chimney caps, and chimney guards. Chimney caps feature both a solid, metal top that keeps snow and rain out of your fireplace and mesh sides that still allow smoke and gasses to vent out as logs burn.

Exclusion guards are basically the same, but instead of a solid, metal top, they feature a mesh top (and mesh sides). These guards are typically used in areas with low precipitation that require spark arresting, a process in which the tight mesh “catches” sparks to prevent them from floating away into dry vegetation, potentially causing wildfires.

Both chimney caps and chimney guards come with mesh patterns that are tight enough to keep out local animals (and, if the mesh is tight enough, bees and wasps). These caps are often bolted on, preventing animals from ripping them off and making a home in your chimney.

How to Keep Wildlife Out of Your Chimney CTA

Exclusion Screens

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Screen Installation

Exclusion screens are pretty straightforward: they come as a flat “sheet” with a solid, metal frame and a diamond mesh body. These screens go anywhere on your home that have a sizable opening — typically on a soffit or over an opening in the house’s foundation.

Like exclusion caps, exclusion screens are bolted into place, so curious animals won’t be able to rip them off and get inside. Depending on the tightness of the mesh, these screens can keep out decently sized insects, too.

Exclusion Guards

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Guard Installation

Finally, HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’s lineup also features a few different exclusion guards. These guards exist to cover vents from products that need to put out some kind of exhaust — products like dryers, fireplaces, or wood burning furnaces or stoves.

Exclusion guards are also bolted onto the house. They may be made from either plastic or metal. While metal is obviously stronger, even plastic guards are capable of withstanding the prying claws of a critter. A tight-meshed guards can keep out small critters or large insects.

Where on Your House do HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Products Go?

HY-GUARD Exclusion Products on House

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION products quite literally cover everything from a home’s roof to its foundation. Whether the opening in the home exists for ventilation purposes or to service the exhaust needs of an appliance, there’s a cap, screen, or guard to cover it.



Starting at the highest point on the home, exclusion caps and guards are bolted onto chimney flues to keep animals out. While there are technically no chimney caps or guards under the HY-GUARD EXCLUSION name, other HY-C brands (like Shelter and Draft King) make chimney products engineered for wildlife control.

Roof Vents


Staying near the top of the house, HY-GUARD EXCLUSION manufactures an entire line of roof vent guards. The vents themselves allow air to circulate through a home’s attic while the guard keeps birds or dexterous mammals from getting into the attic and building their nests.

These roof vent guards are designed with swooping angles to look architecturally pleasing. They also come with pre-cut holes to accommodate screws that go directly into the roof’s shingles so the vent guard stays securely in place.



Plenty of critters (especially raccoons) love to make their homes in soffits. Many soffits come with a layer of hardware cloth built in, but most animals have no trouble ripping off this flimsy mesh and climbing through to set up camp. HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’s soffit vent covers are made from galvanized steel, which is significantly harder for animals to gnaw or claw through.

Dryer Vents


The majority of vents that appear on the side of the house are dryer vents, and animals can get into them quite easily. HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’s dryer vent covers come either with diamond mesh or code-compliant, vertical bars to keep local animals out of your dryer vent hose.


HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Foundation Screen

It’s important for an attic to breathe, and it’s important for a basement to breathe, too. To prevent stale air from gathering at the base of a home, some houses come equipped with foundation vents to promote circulation.

These areas are very vulnerable to bugs and critters, and HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’s foundation vent guards keep these intrusions out while still allowing airflow into the basement.

What Kinds of Wildlife do HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Products Exclude?

HY-GUARD EXCLUSION’s caps, screens, and guards are designed to keep out a large range of animals and insects based on the biodiversity of your local environment. The vast majority of the products are made with stainless steel mesh, and the size of each product’s mesh helps to determine what kind of animals or insects it will exclude from your home.

⅝” Mesh


The widest HY-GUARD EXCLUSION mesh option, ⅝” mesh will keep out larger intrusive animals. Some of the most commonly excluded are:

  • Raccoons
  • Opossums
  • Squirrels
  • Skunks
  • Beavers
  • Birds

It should be noted that bats and mice are not on this list. While ⅝” diamond mesh should keep mice and bats out of your house in theory, in practice, animals are sometimes determined to squeeze through tight spaces. At the end of the day, it is theoretically possible for a bat or a mouse to get through ⅝” diamond mesh.

⅜” Mesh


The next-tightest mesh option, ⅜” mesh represents the threshold at which mice and bats can no longer get in (but insects still can). This mesh size is commonly designed to keep out:

  • Mice
  • Bats
  • Raccoons
  • Opossums
  • Squirrels
  • Skunks
  • Beavers
  • Birds

¼” Mesh


Finally, at just 0.25” in length, this mesh size is engineered to exclude all the critters listed above (and other similarly sized animals) plus medium to large-sized insects. Some of the most common insects kept out by ¼” mesh include:

  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Yellow jackets
  • Stink bugs

Keep in mind that while ¼” mesh does keep out some bigger invasive insects, smaller ones (like ants) can still make their way through the cracks.

What Kind of Wildlife Does (and Doesn't) HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Exclude?

Are HY-GUARD EXCLUSION Products Right for You?

Before now, you may not have even known about some of the spaces on your home that were vulnerable to insects and animals. After reading this, you may feel compelled to take a peek at your dryer vent, or to glance up at your soffit to see if it has any vents.

Depending on what you find, you may decide you want some exclusion screens or guards. After all, wildlife control products are designed to be preventative, keeping a bat colony out of your attic or a stink bug infestation out of your basement before it can even begin.

If you decide you want to keep animals and insects out of your house with wildlife control products, your next step should be to contact a wildlife control professional — they’re qualified and licensed to install products like HY-GUARD EXCLUSION.

Keep the ventilation spots we mentioned in mind — spaces like chimney openings, roof vents, soffit openings, dryer vents, and foundation vents. Ask a professional which of these are present on your home, and ask them to find the appropriate screens and guards to cover up these vulnerabilities.

After the installation is complete, you’ll be left with peace of mind and a clean, well-ventilated home that’s set up to minimize pest invasion and maximize comfort.

Rocky Raccoon

How to Keep Wildlife out of Your Chimney

Raccoons, squirrels, birds, bats — at some point or another, you may encounter any one of these critters in your chimney. Their presence can disturb your living space, cause costly damage to your chimney or fireplace, and at worst, curious or frightened wildlife may find its way into the rest of your home.

HY-C’s HY-Guard exclusion products have been protecting homes from nuisance wildlife for decades, and our chimney caps have been on top of flues for over 75 years. In the category of keeping animals out of chimneys, there’s nothing we haven’t seen.

In this guide, we’ll outline how a chimney works, which animals get into them, and how they manage to sneak in. We’ll also explain how a good chimney cap can go a long way towards keeping critters out of your chimney to help you keep your chimney — and your home — protected.

Parts of a Chimney

It’s important to visualize the components that make up your chimney so you can see both where critters get in and where they set up camp. A traditional fireplace is made up of several components, including the firebox, a damper, a smoke shelf, a smoke chamber, the masonry, and a flue. A standard chimney typically looks something like this:


The firebox is what you see when you look into a fireplace from inside your home. Lined with firebrick, it’s where you burn the wood in your fireplace. The damper is an adjustable steel or cast iron plate at the top of the firebox, and its job is to regulate airflow through the firebox, into the smoke chamber, and up through the chimney. Behind the damper sits the smoke shelf — a flat area at the base of the smoke chamber designed to prevent reverse airflow (i.e., backdrafts) into the firebox. The smoke shelf also helps to protect the firebox from water, debris, or wildlife that makes its way down the chimney.

Atop the smoke chamber, the flue is the exit from which smoke and hot gas escape the chimney. It’s supported by the masonry of the chimney and it extends upward through the building, through the roofline, and ends at some level above the shingles.

The flue is the most common entry point wildlife uses to get inside a chimney, either intentionally to create a nest or by accidentally falling in. Critters may also enter the actual chimney structure through flaws in the masonry, missing mortar joints, or other external damage. Smaller wildlife can get in through openings at the base of the chimney if the flashing is faulty. Decay and extensive weathering on older chimneys may offer still more points of entry for local fauna.

What Kind of Wildlife Gets into a Chimney?

Squirrel on fence

Raccoons are infamous for using the chimney as a maternal den site; a female raccoon can easily climb up and down the inside of a flue. Normally, a mother raccoon births her babies (called “kits”) on the smoke shelf of a fireplace, so that should be the first place you check if you hear critters in your chimney.

Squirrels, bats, and birds can also get into the flue. Unlike raccoons, squirrels can’t climb back up the slick flue tile, and bats and birds have trouble navigating the narrow smoke chamber. Chimney swifts are a notable exception, though. These aptly named birds can fly vertically and have no issues making their home in a chimney. Swifts are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and require special permits for removal.

In some cases, small animals might be able to enter through the cracks and crevices in the masonry or flue tiles. These infestations — usually flying squirrels or bats — are sometimes hard to recognize, but typically easy to exclude with regular maintenance.

What Are the Signs of Wildlife in Your Chimney?

There are two sure signs of wildlife inside a chimney: noises and odors. Noises like scratching, clawing, or just general movement indicate that there may be an animal on top of the damper or the smoke shelf. If the damper was left open, the culprit will likely be staring you in the face from your firebox (or even running around your living room). Chirps or chittering are usually indicative of birds or raccoons.

Odor normally suggests raccoons as well, but most homeowners can pick up the scent of a long-term bird roost and the droppings that come with it. If the odor is particularly foul, the critter may not have survived its time in your chimney. In this case, your priority shifts from animal capture to carcass removal.

How to Inspect Your Chimney for Wildlife

Starting an inspection is easy enough; all you need is a flashlight to peek into the firebox to check for wildlife. Inspecting the smoke shelf is a little more difficult. Visual access to the shelf is difficult, so you’ll need both a light and a camera. From the roof, you can use a strong light source and look down the chimney flue for critters, or you can lower a camera down the flue and play the footage back later. It’s important to note that we do not recommend climbing onto your roof. Leave all roof-level inspections to a professional wildlife control operator.

As the flue is being inspected for wildlife and nesting material, be sure to inspect the chimney itself for any signs of damage, blockage, cracks, weathering, or creosote buildup. Repairing these problems will not only keep future wildlife from getting in, but will also ensure an efficient chimney that functions properly. To really keep wildlife out of your chimney, though, nothing beats a top-of-the-line chimney cap.

How a Chimney Cap Can Keep Wildlife out of Your Chimney

If you don’t have a chimney cap, getting one is an absolute necessity. First and foremost, they keep animals and debris from entering the chimney flue and creating blockages and fire hazards. They also prevent downdrafts and rainwater from getting into the chimney flue.

A chimney cap can also improve the chimney’s draft, helping it to vent smoke and gas more easily. Caps made from galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper are popular choices because they are aesthetically pleasing, and because nuisance wildlife can’t gnaw through them or rip them off the flue.

It’s important to consider the mesh size of your chimney cap, too. ¾” mesh is common on most caps, but homes in some parts of Oregon and California require ⅝” mesh by law (to stop sparks from escaping and causing forest fires). Mesh size is a balancing act; the mesh needs to be small enough to prevent small animals from accessing the flue, but large enough to allow smoke and gas to escape to stop creosote from building up or ice from forming.

How Do You Keep Pests Out of Your Home CTA

Keep Wildlife out of Your Chimney

The idea of an unwelcome animal making a home in your chimney is unsettling. By now, though, you understand how your chimney works, what kind of animals tend to get into it, how to check for those animals, and how to keep them from accessing your flue in the future.

The best thing to do now is to find the right chimney cap with the best functions and the right aesthetic for your home. Once it’s in place, you won’t have to worry about a family of raccoons living on your smoke shelf anymore.