My daughter spotted this hole in the side of our house while outside playing in the yard.
What the kind of greasy hell beast chewed though our wall? It's clearly a varmint, a critter, or a beastie, but which one? What I do know, is I gotta plug the hole before something bigger and badder decides to gnaw in.
Now I remember a neighbor stopping by a month or so ago, letting me know they had uncovered and scattered a bunch of rats when they'd moved a woodpile in their backyard.
Phoenix has been known to have roof rats. This hole has been gnawed right into our attic space, under the roof. Could it be those roof rat-bastards? maybe a squirrel? a bird?
Again,... ughhhhhh...I keep thinking rats. Damn, I sure hope not. Maybe,.. just maybe, we had an infestation of Pokemon. Yeah, let's call it that.
I had placed some poison bait after the neighbor warned me. Coincidentally, it was within two feet of this hole. I'd put it up high, above the wooden enclosure around our electrical panel, to keep it away from dogs, birds, and kids. There was not a single nibble on the bait, but I did find some droppings in the area. Eeeeghhhh. Whatever shimmied up the electrical conduit and chewed in, had rudely used my bait station as a step stool.
When we first found the hole, I jammed a tin foil ball in it for a few days to see if anything that called it home would push it out. Nothing did. I crawled the attic and didn't find evidence of any nesting either. I assume with all the sunshine-fueled hope I can muster, that the neighbor's bait had wiped out any of their rats that had escaped into the area. God I hope so.
I sure wasn't going to replace the whole piece of T-111 siding. That would be too much work for this nearly unseen corner of the house. Especially with all the crazy electrical conduits poking through. I wanted to do a quick, easy fix and move on. There are other projects to do.
I figured I'd replace part of one of the pseudo planks formed in the siding, rather than fashion a little hole sized plug. This plank approach would hide the vertical seams. There really aren't planks at all; this stuff is a formed plywood-type product, a 4x8 sheet good. It's the cheap siding material used in Phoenix before home construction switched to stucco and roof tile in the 1980's and all the houses started looking like Taco Bell.
Building a Wall Patch
To start, I measured the width of the "plank" damaged by the toothy rascal.
I can't believe I didn't pack-rat (no pun intended) some scraps of siding from last summer's window install project. That would have been perfect. The one time I actually throw stuff away right? Remember the time my pack-rat tendencies saved the day after I exploded the garage door opener? Good times.
A obliging piece of plywood scrap would do the trick though. I transferred the "plank" width with a t-square.
Rather than go back in the garage and spend time clearing off the table saw, I made the cut freehand with a cordless circular saw. Laser accuracy wasn't important with the method I'd be using to cut the wall.
I shortened my plywood plank a little and climbed up to mark it for the angled, roofline cut. My favorite way to measure is not measure at all. Skip the tape measure all together, especially if there's an angled cut, like my roofline, to screw everything up.
With the plank lined up with the vertical lines of the siding, I slid a compass along the underside of the roof and traced a parallel line.
Rather than cutting a patch to fit the hole, I cut the hole to fit the patch. My plank was secured in place and I'd basically trace it, cutting the wall behind it, tracing the pattern like a seamstress.
I'd do the tracing / cutting with the my cordless DeWalt 20V XR Oscillating Multi-Tool. I just love this thing.
The oscillating tool sliced through the dry siding like a buzzing butter knife. I just trimmed three sides; the top was simply held in with old caulk.
The two-piece sandwich popped out, nice and neat. As a bonus, there was some framing behind it that would save me the step of adding wooden strips to screw the patch to.
PLUG THE HOLE
I decided I did need something on the bottom right corner to attach the patch to. I clamped a piece of scrap behind the face of the wall and ran in a couple of those Spax screws.
I popped the patch neatly in the hole, like a tight puzzle piece, and screwed it into place. I added a dose of caulk around the edges and covered the slightly buried screw heads.
I gave it a dose of primer. Somewhere along the way, I decided to paint the bare conduit too.
Since I'd painted the house about 5 years ago the paint was faded from the original color. I had a little left in my paint archive, but it wasn't even close to a match anymore.
I took the scrap I'd removed over to the Home Depot and had the guy at the paint counter stick it in his magical color matching contraption. He fiddled around with it while I wandered the store and drooled over a new set of cordless tools I really don't need. In the end, he nailed it. Perfect match.
Until I was looking at these photos, I didn't realize the facia board never got painted. For 5 years, it's been the original blue / gray of the house when we moved in. What a pea-wit. That shows how hidden this corner is. Even though it's technically in the front yard, it's blocked from the street by a gaggle of palm trees, cactus, and a big mesquite tree. No one will ever appreciate my little patch job.
This patch project was a quick fix, but it took a few days to do it (as you can see from my shirt color changes). I let a day (or a work week) pass between the calk, primer, and paint steps. I was working on another project on the other side of the fence at the same time. I'll fill you in on that soon, but I'm sure a keen eyed reader can probably spot it in one of the photos.