Can Rats Chew Through Copper Pipe ? (If Yes, How To Prevent?)

 You're probably very familiar with rats because these complex little creatures live pretty much everywhere! If you are a rat fanatic, then you probably already know that your rat's front teeth can grow up to 5 inches in a year! That explains why they are constantly gnawing on things to help wear the teeth down to the right size. 

Most homeowners tend to assume that rats only chew on organic materials. Contrary to this belief, however, rats don't always chew through food. Rat's incisors are extremely hard__harder than copper and iron! Hence, these intelligent creatures can, and will, chew through almost anything they come across, including electrical wires, thin glass, plastics, aluminum, bricks, iron, and even gold. 

So, can rats chew through a copper pipe? It's pretty obvious, right? Chewing through copper pipes isn't a problem for rats!

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Types Of Pipes That Rats Can Chew Through

Rats have powerful jaw muscles! As noted above, they constantly gnaw on things to grind their teeth down and keep the incisors sharp. Rat teeth are extremely hard, allowing them to easily chew on anything that's not as hard as their teeth. 

When measured on the Mohs hardness scale, rat teeth rank 5.5. That's harder than human teeth, iron, and copper. With such strong teeth, rats can chew through a wide variety of pipes, including:

  • Copper pipes
  • Plastic
  • Brick & Concrete
  • Lead 
  • Aluminum & Gold 
  • Wood 
  • Cement 
  • Asbestos 
  • Cinder blocks
  • PVC / PEX pipes

Note that rats' super strong teeth will also chew through the flooring and baseboards in your home- even more easily if there are already small cracks and holes in the surfaces.

Materials That Rats Can't Chew Through. 

Although rats have the most powerful jaws of all rodents, there are still some materials that they can't chew through. Such materials are quite useful if you want to keep rats away from your home and sewer system: 

  • Stones: Rats can't possibly chew through stones. This makes stones your ideal material for flooring if you're trying to keep rats out of your home. 
  • Solid concrete: Rats can't chew through solid concrete, making it a great choice for your home's foundation. But you want to ensure there are no cracks or small holes in the concrete that rats and other pests can squeeze through. 
  • Heavy metals: Rats cannot chew through heavy metal types like steel. One of the best ways to keep rats away from your sewer system is using pipes made of steel! Experts typically recommend filling holes with wire mesh, steel wool, and caulking to keep rats from homes.

Why Do Rats Chew Through Copper Pipe? 

Copper pipes are mainly used in the production of water pipes because they are durable and corrosion-resistance, allowing homeowners and plumbers to save money. 

Rats chewing through copper pipe is a commonly reported problem by most homeowners. These pesky pests generally love to chew through things. They typically chew through most pipes in search of water and food. However, they can take advantage of copper pipes to gain access to your home. 

If your copper pipe is old and vulnerable to wear and tear, rats will chew through it with much ease and enter the pipeline. Once inside, these perfect swimmers can climb and swim their way up through the piping to the other end. That is why some people report rats in their toilet bowls, showers, and sinks. Pest control professionals actually believe that most rat infestations begin from faulty piping systems. 

Unfortunately, many factors can attract rats to your copper pipes. For instance, copper pipes used for sewer lines provide rats the water, food, warmth, and protection they need for survival. Because rats have strong jaw muscles and incredible chewing capabilities, they will chew through old or new copper pipes and take up residence in the pipping.

If you are wondering whether rats can survive in the sewer system, you'll be surprised to know that besides being strong swimmers, rats actually enjoy being in the water! In addition, these invaders can swim or tread water for up to 3 days straight without drowning! 

Rats can also hold their breath underwater for as long as 3 minutes. So if you ever encounter a rat in your toilet bowl, just know that it's probably too exhausted from swimming and won't be aggressive. But still, don't touch that disease carrier!

Signs That You Have Rats In Your Sewer

Unfortunately, the problem of rats in sewers is nearly a universal one. 

These rodents have a skeleton made of short bones connected with joints and cartilages, making them exceptionally flexible! Rats will fit through small holes in broken copper pipes or chew through the pipe to get water and food when they smell it. 

Norway rats, also known as sewer rats or street rats, are the ones commonly found in the sewer system. These rats have adapted to living in sewers, causing substantial damages by creating burrows and excavations in the sewer line. 

Regardless of whether or not you have a Norway rats problem, any rat species in your sewer system is terrible news. Once in the sewer, the rats will soon find their way into the copper drainage pipe and eventually end up in your home. 

The most common signs of rats in the sewer include: 

  • Blockages in the pipping
  • Water flowing slower than usual 
  • Creaking sounds in your drains
  • Droppings under the sinks, behind the toilet, and the bathtub. 

Although these signs are quite similar to other problems in your sewer, like build-up grease, frogs, and foreign objects in the system, a thorough inspection is necessary to establish the core issue. 

Should you have a rat problem in your drain pipes, you want to deal with the invaders immediately! Rats multiply rapidly, and a small infestation will quickly become full-blown more, especially in the favorable conditions of your sewer system. A common but frightening sign of a severe rat infestation in your sewer is seeing a rat climb out of your toilet bowl. 

Inspect your pipes to spot any unexplained bends, cracks, and unusual shapes, as that is a big telltale of rat presence. Keenly check the areas where your drain pipes come close to stonework and gutters. 

Another obvious sign of rats in your sewer is scraping sounds or what may sound like rats running in the pipping. Perhaps you suspect rats in your pipping but can't spot any rat signs? In that case, consider contacting a pest control expert for a thorough inspection. 


How To Keep Rats From Damaging Your Copper Pipes 

If you suspect that you have a rat problem in your copper pipes, the easiest and recommended thing to do is contact a professional pest exterminator to inspect and deal with the problem, if any. 

But if you're hellbent on going the DIY rat control route, below are the most effective steps to take to stop rats from chewing through your copper pipes: 

Provide Water In a Bowl 

Sounds pretty contradictory, right? Think of it this way__ rats primarily invade your water pipes searching for food and water. So, providing the pesky invaders a consistent source of water and food will divert their attention, and they won't necessarily chew through your copper pipe in search of food or water. 

If you are feeding them rat poison, which works by dehydrating them, you will notice a drastic decrease in the number of rats around your pipping. 

Please note that while providing rats with water may help prevent damage to your copper pipes, you will need to hire a professional exterminator to address the problem permanently. 

Seal All Possible Entry Points 

Rats can squeeze through the tiniest cracks or openings in your pipping, easily accessing your home. Inspect the perimeter of your home and your sewer system to spot potential rat entry points. Seal off even the tiniest, seemingly negligible crevice in your pipping. 

Consider Using Rat Traps 

Using poisons to exterminate rats seems like the easiest option for most homeowners. However, rat poisons work by dehydrating the rats to death or eventually forcing them to leave the area in search of water. A more straightforward option is using traps that catch and kill the invaders right away! 

Using Natural Rat Repellants 

Perhaps you have kids or pets and are concerned about using rat traps? No problem. Natural deterrents are an effective, safe, and more humane way to keep rats from damaging your copper pipes. Consider the following options: 

i.        Steel wool: Use steel wool to block possible entry points in your pipping. Steel wool is highly affordable and readily available in most home improvement stores.

ii.      Mothballs: Mothballs are small balls of chemical pesticides mainly used to control moths. They are thought to repel rats thanks to the active ingredient naphthalene, which has been shown to suffocate rats when used in high doses. You'll want to use a couple of them because a single mothball contains small amounts of naphthalene.

iii.    Ammonia: Rats use their strong sense of smell to detect lurking danger. Ammonia mimics the smell released by most predators' urine, making it an effective rat repellant. Rats think that a predator is nearby and will avoid that area out of fear. Put a few ammonia drops in places you suspect rat activities.

iv.    Peppermint oil: A commonly used essential oil to keep rats away from homes. Rodents can't stand the natural sharp odor of peppermint oil as it irritates their nasal passages. Prepare a peppermint solution by mixing equal amounts of water and peppermint oil in a spray bottle and treat the entire perimeter of your home. Alternatively, you can soak cotton balls in the oil and strategically place them in rodent activity areas.

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