As the warm weather winds down and winter settles in, most of us will breathe a sigh of relief that we survived another season of creepy crawlers. Don’t relax just yet! Just because the weather has turned colder doesn’t mean pests have hibernated for the winter. Many pests will make their way into your home in search of shelter, food, and warmth. Mice, cockroaches, and spiders can be found crawling underfoot in the wintertime. These overwintering pests aren’t just a nuisance to have in your home; they can cause significant damage to both your property and your health. Rodents are known to carry Salmonella and Hantavirus and can chew through cables and electrical wires, increasing the risk of fires. Some spiders like the brown recluse and the black widow have bites that can be a serious threat to humans. Cockroaches are known to trigger allergies and asthma. Winter brings ice, snow, and wind, causing enough stress on your home without the threat of pest infestations. So what can you do to reduce this stress and get rid of the last of these creepy crawlers? Check out these winter pest prevention tips to help you have a stress free winter.
Inspect the exterior of your home for cracks and holes. Seal them to keep pests from easily accessing your home.
Replace any loose mortar around foundations and weatherstripping around windows and doors. Repair or replace any damaged screens.
Eliminate moisture by repairing leaky faucets and clearing clogged drains.
Keep gutters clear of debris before the weather gets too cold. Consider installing gutter guards to eliminate the need to clean gutters.
If you’re like most of us you don’t spend too much time inspecting your crawlspace. But did you know that moisture that makes its way into your crawlspace can cause significant problems not only for your home but for your health, as well? Dampness in your crawlspace is a common problem in homes without a proper moisture barrier system. Without a proper barrier, your crawlspace carries humid air that condenses and settles on the pipes, walls, and even the subflooring. This moisture provides the ideal environment for mold, mildew, and pests. A moisture barrier prevents this moisture from evaporating and seeping into the air beneath your home. Moisture barriers are composed of either foil or plastic material that helps prevent moisture from penetrating your crawlspace air.
So why should you have a moisture barrier installed in your crawlspace? Check out these 7 benefits of moisture barrier installation.
1. TEMPERATURE CONTROL
The moisture that gets into your crawlspace affects the temperature in your home. It can make your home too hot, too cold, too stuffy, or too dry depending on the weather, the season, and other factors. The moisture either absorbs the warmth from your house or keeps it from escaping. In turn, this causes your HVAC unit or furnace to run too long trying to maintain a steady temperature indoors. Installing a moisture barrier seals those spaces and keeps the moisture out of your crawlspace, helping to regulate the temperature inside.
2. ENERGY CONSERVATION
As we mentioned above, the moisture in your crawlspace can affect the temperature inside your home. As your HVAC unit or furnace runs longer to help maintain the temperature inside, it uses more electricity which, in turn, increases your electricity bill. This also puts additional strain on the HVAC unit, causing them to wear out faster and need costly repairs and/or replacement. A moisture barrier acts as a sealant, controlling the moisture levels and easing the strain of your HVAC system, making your home more energy efficient and saving you money on your energy bills.
3. MOLD AND ODOR PREVENTION
High moisture levels in your crawlspace provide the ideal environment for mold and mildew growth. Mold and mildew in your air system can be detrimental to your and your family’s health. Mold can also cause significant damage to your home. Installing a moisture barrier greatly reduces these moisture levels, preventing mold and mildew from forming. Mold and mildew are often the cause of foul odors in your home, as well. A moisture barrier can also help eliminate these stale, musty odors from your house.
4. PIPE PROTECTION
Your crawlspace is home to a number of pipes that supply both water and power to your home. When moisture infiltrates your crawlspace, it can cause rotting inside and around these pipes, leading them to burst or break. Moisture barrier installation helps keep your pipes dryer, which increases their lifespan and decreases costly repairs.
5. ELECTRICAL HAZARDS
As we mentioned above, many of the pipes in your crawlspace house electricity that runs to your home. Moisture and electricity don’t mix! Moisture in and around these pipes can lead to electrical shorts, rusted wires, and even fire. Installing a moisture barrier eliminates the moisture that can infiltrate these pipes, keeping your home safer from electrical hazards.
6. STRUCTURAL PROTECTION
The foundation of your home is vital to its structure and soundness. Moisture in your crawlspace can lead to wood rot, especially on joists and beams. Rotting wood can lead to significant structural damage to your home which can, in turn, stick you with a huge repair bill. Moisture barrier installation reduces the amount of moisture in your crawlspace which helps prevent wood rot, protecting the structural integrity of your home.
7. PEST CONTROL
Your unsealed crawlspace is an open invitation to pests and wildlife in search of shelter, food, and water. Once inside, these pests can cause significant damage to your home and your health. Rodents and other wildlife can chew through wood and electrical wires. Roaches and other insects can use the crawlspace to gain access to your home, posing potential health risks to you and your family. Installing a moisture barrier completely closes off your crawlspace, eliminating this entry point for pests into your home.
Even though the calendar says September, the thermometer still reads summer! Summer is the time of year when we see a surge in our energy costs and utility bills. As the temperatures increase outside, we spend more time inside. Kids are home from school all day running the air conditioner, using electronics and appliances, and leaving the lights on. There is also a bigger gap between the temperature outside and the temperature inside our homes – causing our air conditioning units to work harder to keep our homes cool. Summer is also a time to utilize swimming pools to have fun and cool off. Electric pool pumps, however, use a lot of energy. In fact, they can add an average of $80-90 per month to your energy bill if they run 24 hours a day. As the demand for energy increases and the supply of energy decreases, the market price of energy will inevitably go up. This helps explain why our energy bills are so high in the summer months.
So what can you do to help stay ahead of this surge in energy costs? Two options available are TAP insulation and Complete Crawlspace Enclosure.
TAP or thermal acoustical pest control insulation can help protect your home and your wallet from those increasing summer energy bills. TAP insulation:
Is energy start rated and reduces the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home, which can lower your energy bills by 20-38%
Is made of 87% recycled newsprint so you can insulate your home while saving landfill space
Is treated with borates (a natural pest control product) to help control roaches, ants and other pests
Is treated with a fire retardant that limits the spread of fire
Allows you to keep more consistent temperatures inside your home year-round
Complete Crawlspace Enclosure
Complete crawlspace is an enclosed crawlspace solution that includes high quality vapor liner, taped seams, sealed foundation vents, and mechanical drying. Complete Crawlspace provides you with:
A healthier living environment by preventing mold growth and wood rot
Decreased humidity levels
Pest control by completely closing off your crawlspace, eliminating an entry point for pests
Decreased HVAC repair costs by decreasing the workload of the HVAC unit
Decreased utility bills by up to 18% with increased energy efficiency in your home
Summer brings hot temperatures and high humidity. It also brings some of the most annoying pests – fleas and ticks. These parasites can cause significant health issues for your pets including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. Fleas and ticks are practically impossible to keep at bay and can take weeks to months to get under control. What can you do to protect your pets from these parasites? Check out these 8 tips to prevent fleas and ticks from taking over your pets and your home.
Use a preventative year-round. While fleas and ticks are more common in the summer months, some can survive indoors during the winter. Check with your vet to see which preventative product is best for your pet and use it as directed. Make sure to check the expiration dates on products as they will lose their effectiveness after the expiration date. Check with your vet to see if there are any new products you can try that may not have been on the market before. Make sure to check the labels to ensure dog products are used on dogs and cat products are used on cats. Some products that are made for dogs contain an ingredient that is toxic to cats.
Check regularly for ticks. You should perform tick checks on your pets regularly, especially if you have been in areas that may have ticks. Make sure to check all over your pet’s skin, in their ears, and under their armpits. Remove any ticks that you find immediately and notify your vet if your pet has been bitten.
Groom your pet regularly. Comb your pet on a regular basis with a flea comb/brush. this allows you to bond with your pet while still giving you a chance to check for any parasites that may be hiding under their fur. Bathe them at least once a week with a flea and tick shampoo.
Get regular checkups. Make sure to stay up to date with routine examinations with your vet. During the exam your vet will check for any signs of parasite problems to make sure the preventative product you are using is effective.
Clean behind your pets. Clean crates and carriers at least once a week with warm, soapy water. Commit to a weekly wipe down of their equipment. Bedding should be cleaned in hot water at least once a week. Choose a pet bed that has washable, removable cushions and covers. If you can, try and have more than one cover so you can replace one while the other is washing. If your pet’s bedding looks or smells dirty even after washing, replace it and start a regular laundering schedule.
Vacuum often. Fleas are known to live in carpets, rugs, and pet bedding. Try to vacuum at least once a week and more often if you actually spot fleas. Fleas also avoid high traffic areas so make sure to vacuum along baseboards, under furniture, under cushions, and anywhere your pets sleep or spend significant time. Change your vacuum bags frequently.
Clean up your yard. Fleas prefer warm, moist, shady areas while ticks like to hide in tall grass. Mow your lawn regularly. Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed back. Rake leaves, brush, and clippings from your yard to give pests fewer places to hide and breed.
Don’t attract wildlife. Wildlife like opossums, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and feral cats can bring fleas and ticks into your yard. Try to limit the access these animals have around your house and in your yard. Don’t leave bowls of pet food and water outside. Keep pet food stored in sealed containers. Remove food from bird feeders nightly. Use trashcans with locking lids. Seal any openings to crawlspaces, garages, sheds, and decks.
If you suspect a flea or tick problem, call a professional pest control company who can come and thoroughly inspect your home and yard and provide you with a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.
If you’ve been outside lately you’ve probably seen signs of spring – blooming flowers, pollen that aggravates our allergies, and lots of new insects buzzing around. Another thing that spring brings is swarms – of termites! Termites are present year round but their swarming season is during spring and early summer.
Termites cause billions of dollars in damage to homeowners each year. Here in the Southeast, subterranean termites are the most common types and are particularly destructive. These insatiable eaters can damage not only wooden structures, but have even been known to cause damage to brick and concrete homes as well. Termites can invade your home through cracks and holes as small as 1/32 of an inch!
Swarms are most common in spring and summer because they are triggered by warm, humid weather. Swarming marks the start of a new termite colony. Winged termites leave their nests when they become overcrowded and their isn’t enough food to sustain them. They then take flight and actually reproduce in mid-air. The females will then shed their wings and fall back to the ground. They then go in search of a new location to start their colonies.
Swarmers don’t usually cause any damage but once they establish their new colonies their offspring can cause significant damage – usually within 2 years. If you see flying termites it can signal one of two problems:
There could be an existing termite problem nearby.
Your home could potentially be at risk of a termite infestation when the swarm lands looking for a new place to colonize.
If you see winged termites inside your home this is a good indication that you already have an established termite colony inside or that there is existing damage already.
What can you do to prevent termites from coming into your home? Check out these tips to keep the termites out!
Do regular inspections of the outside of your home and the subfloor of your home checking for wood damage and the presence of mud tubes. (Mud tubes are pencil-sized tunnels located around termite nests, wood structures, and concrete or stone foundations.)
Repair any damaged roof tiles, soffits, and fascia on your home.
Keep mulch away from your foundation as this retains water and the moisture can attract termites.