Q: I'm replacing my floor insulation because some rats died in it, and it smells really bad. The current configuration is the pink stuff with the silver backing, and chicken wire. I need to know if there is something else to use, or some way to do the project and prevent rat nesting. What kind of suggestions can you give?
A: One thing to do is inspect your home to find where the rats are coming in. I've had problems in the past where mice crawl into a heater vent and die (sending the smell into the house with every blast of the furnace). I solved it largely by being careful to seal off any outside access into the house, so you may be able to prevent any future problems by blocking a hole.
The rat problem is separate from the insulation problem. Rats and other vermin are not naturally attracted to insulation materials - especially pink fiberglass as it is such a skin irritant. If you block off your venting you will have a terrible moisture problem in the area where you live. You can use tyvek or rigid foam board to insulate with but it is usually more expensive and more difficult to install although it looks nicer when finished. The problem is that you may have more gaps etc. than with batt insulation and therefore it won't be as energy efficient. Whatever you do-remember you are dealing with energy conservation and a vermin problem, which are separate issues and should be dealt with accordingly.
You may have to consult with both a pest control specialist and an insulation specialist in your area to come up with the best solution. Also, if you are getting water in the basement, consider contacting a landscaper to deal with drainage to prevent that from happening anymore.
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by Kathy Maynard, reprinted courtesy of HomeAdvisor.com