Spring is here and you know what that means – time to tackle all those projects you put off throughout the winter. Did you know that some simple home improvement projects can help you reduce the chance of pest problems as the weather warms up?
Your Western Exterminator Specialist is always on the lookout for conditions that are conducive to pest activity. However, if you’re ready to get the jump on pests, take a look at our six “honey do” list items and see what you can cross off this spring.
A clean sweep on gutters
Gutters can become clogged by leaves, twigs, and debris that can keep them from flowing freely. That means that moisture could also be collectings. All of this is a perfect recipe for pest problems and potential damage to your home if water backs up. Doing a clean sweep of your gutters and removing all of that accumulation may not be fun, but it will help keep your home pest-free.
PRECAUTIONS: Be sure you’re safe when tackling this task. When using a ladder, be sure it is in good condition, appropriate for the height, and stabilized. Wear fall protection equipment, such as a hard hat, to protect yourself.
Close up gaps around exterior
Don’t let pests walk right into your home. That’s what you’re doing if you’re not performing periodic checks for gaps and cracks around your windows and doors. These cracks and gaps are a natural occurrence as homes settle, but they create prime opportunities for pests to get inside your home (and hide in areas you may not see, such as inside wall voids). Seal these openings to keep pests from coming in. Here are some quick tips for this simple home improvement project:
- For gaps and cracks under ½-inch, use exterior grade caulk or sealant.
- Use weather stripping or door sweeps to keep larger openings under doors from becoming pest entryways.
PRECAUTIONS: Timing is important for this task. Wait until it’s been warm for a few weeks so that overwintering pests have enough time to escape and you don’t accidentally seal them inside your home.
Repair or replace screens
Nothing ruins the joy of having the windows and doors open faster than insects getting into the house. If your screens have holes or tears or don’t fit properly, pests can simply come right on in. Do a quick inspection of all your screens. Patch any holes or tears, or replace screens that are badly damaged or no longer fit properly.
PRECAUTIONS: Use ¼-inch mesh or smaller screening to keep insect pests out – anything larger will allow pests entry.
Give the deck some TLC
Your deck could be the target of many different kinds of pests, including damaging carpenter bees, carpenter ants, and termites. Giving your deck a fresh coat of stain or paint can reduce the chances of that happening by reducing its susceptibility to moisture – although it won’t eliminate them entirely.
PRECAUTIONS: There are pros and cons to both stain and paint. Paint can create areas where water pools, and that can cause moisture damage. However, it tends to last longer than stain. Stain needs to be redone every few years, so if that’s the way you go, be prepared to refresh your deck in a year or two. A home improvement professional can advise you on the best option based on your deck and your area.
Move that firewood
If you’re storing firewood next to your home for easy access, it could be a great hiding place for pests such as rodents, spiders, and a myriad of other insects. The closer pests are to your home, the more likely they are to find a way in. Relocate your firewood to an area more removed from your home or other structures.
PRECAUTIONS: If you decide to take on this task, close windows and doors that are close by and wear a pair of heavy-duty gloves. This ensures that if you disturb any pests, they won’t bite or scatter into your home. Gloves can also help you avoid splinters.
Basement, attic, or shed/garage
Because they are often undisturbed for long periods of time, your basement, attic, shed, and garage make the perfect hiding places for pests. They also have temperatures that suit different species of pests. Cardboard boxes make great hiding and nesting places and both the boxes and their contents can offer food sources. Protect your belongings by sealing them in more durable plastic storage containers – they are a bit harder for pests to get into.
PRECAUTIONS: Rodents, bats, and even birds can take up residence in these areas. Droppings from these pests can carry pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and spores that are harmful to humans. If you see droppings, take precautions not to aerosolize those droppings. Wet them down first with an appropriate disinfectant. Ventilate the area, and take precautions not to breathe in particles.
These are just a few of the home improvement projects that you can undertake to protect your home from pests. Check out Western’s extensive list of pest control tips for things you can do every day to keep pests out of your home.