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Pest Prevention Tips
Dated: May 10 2019
Pests are a part of life, especially in warmer climates like Texas. Some are nothing but a nuisance, while others can cause serious damage to your home and threaten your health. In addition to regular inspections and professional pest control services, here are some things you can do to keep out these unwelcome occupants.
Seal exterior openings. Make sure that the caulk seals all openings around windows, doors, and any other opening, such as those around pipes vents, and wires. Over time as the weather changes, caulk dries out and beings to crack, leaving small gaps that allow insects a way in. Every year, inspect the condition of your caulk in these areas and replace it as needed. Even high-quality “weather resistant” caulk can crack after extreme temperature changes or movement. Also inspect weather stripping around the windows and doors. If you can feel air coming in around closed doors or windows, pests have a way in, too. Bonus- replacing the weather stripping will help reduce heating or cooling loss, saving you money on utilities.
Block other entrances. Some openings in your home can’t be sealed, like dryer vents, chimneys, and weep holes. Be sure to install mesh covers or plastic “cages” to keep rodents and birds from entering these openings. Home improvement stores often sell custom-shaped covers for these areas that can easily fit over or replace the standard covers that may leave your home vulnerable. Many pest experts recommend placing steel wool pads in weep holes to keep mice out without trapping moisture in. Gaps between garage doors and walls are another easy access point for insects, rodents, and reptiles.
Eliminate standing water. Puddles and pools of water that remain stagnant are breeding grounds for mosquitos, and moisture near your home may also attract termites and thirsty critters. Check the areas around your home after a rain shower to see if water is pooling up anywhere. Common water pooling areas are found near gutter drains, soil under a corner or roof eave, and inside of toys or equipment left outside. Make sure gutter drain pans carry water away from your foundation. When these are installed backwards, they collect water near the base instead of draining it away from the home and hold it for a day or 2 after a good soaking downpour. Puddles in the soil around your foundation should be filled in with soil and covered with grass or sod, when possible. Not only will these puddles attract pests, they can also lead to foundation movement. Make sure that gutters and fascia remove water from the roof in a timely matter.
Keep wood & vegetation away. Plants that touch the exterior walls and roof can disguise entrances and serve as bridges for pests get on the roof. Keep these trimmed back and leave some distance in between, whenever possible. Be sure to check the walls behind shrubs and trees near the house regularly for signs of termites or other pests. Fences should not touch the exterior of your home, either, so leave a gap there as well. If escaping pets are a problem, you may be able to cover gaps with chicken wire or plastic lattice, though plastic isn’t best if you have a chewer. Firewood should be stored half a foot or higher off the ground in a dry spot and several feet away from the exterior of your home (preferably 20 or more feet, when possible). Dispose of scrap wood and trimmings, or store it the same way as you would fire wood.
Check trim pieces. Clogged gutters and cracked caulk can cause water to puddle in corners and cause trim to deteriorate over time. Column bases and other pieces that are near the ground are also vulnerable every time it rains. Inspect these pieces quarterly and replace them if they feel soft to the touch. Soggy wood is very appealing to some pests, especially termites! Faux wood trim and treated wood are both available in many home improvement stores, and make ideal replacements when needed. Also check play structures and wooden storage.
Don’t leave food out. It may sound obvious, but when food is out in the open, it tends to attract pests. Even if the surfaces of your home look clean, there may be crumbs lingering under cabinets and appliances, and those tricky spaces in between. Fruits and vegetables stored on counter tops also draw in pests, like fruit flies and ants. Regularly vacuum or sweep around appliances as much as possible to prevent a pest buffet building up. Take care when moving appliances so that you don’t injure yourself or damage the floor. After disposing of food, keep trash cans closed and away from plants or fences that could be used to climb inside.
Prevention is best of course, but if you find any small invaders in your home, act quickly. You can purchase pest treatments at most home improvement stores or contact a local pest control professional. The sooner you eliminate them, the better since they will just breed and multiply, and potentially cause damage. If you’re purchasing treatments, be sure to read all instructions thoroughly and follow them carefully for safety. GroupWatson can assist you by recommending qualified local pest professionals, if the need arises.
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