Should you enclose your crawlspace this winter? The resounding answer is yes. There are several benefits to crawlspace enclosure, especially when cold weather sets in and energy costs soar. Most crawlspaces house pipes, ducts, and other appliances. Continuous exposure to cold air and freezing temperatures can lead to frozen and busted pipes and potential water damage. While it is important to keep your crawlspace clean and dry year-round, it is especially important in the winter as it can easily become damp and humid. The excessive moisture and extreme temperatures can also cause significant damage to your home.
While closing your crawlspace vents can help, it is often not enough to keep moisture, insects, and other pests out of your crawlspace. The moisture found in crawlspaces attracts pests like termites, roaches, and millipedes and the crawlspace provides the ideal entry point to your home. The increased humidity also provides the ideal environment for mold and wood rot which can lead to serious health issues for your family and trigger allergies and asthma.
Cold air from your crawlspace can also seep through into your home, keeping your floors cold and causing your heating system to work overtime, greatly increasing your energy costs.
So what can you do this winter to keep the cold and the pests out of your crawlspace? Here are 4 steps to protecting your crawlspace this winter.
1. Clear Those Gutters
Your gutters can’t drain properly when they are clogged with leaves and debris. These clogs cause overflows with the water collecting at the base of the house. This overflow then seeps into the ground and evaporates into your crawlspace. Standing water from clogged gutters also attracts pests like mosquitoes and roaches to your home. Make sure runoff is directed away from the base of your home. If possible, extend your gutters to drain at least 10 feet away from your crawlspace. Make sure your gutters stay clean and free of debris. Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs.
2. Close and Seal Air Vents
Although air vents allow air to circulate through your crawlspace, they also provide an entryway for water and moisture. In the winter, close all the air vents to your crawlspace before the temperatures get too cold. Have them sealed properly to prevent rainwater and moisture from getting inside. This also helps ensure your crawlspace stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
3. Seal Your Crawlspace
Your crawlspace walls, corners, and even base can have tiny holes that allow air leaks into the area. Professionally sealing your crawlspace can help prevent air from circulating through these cracks which, in turn, helps reduce humidity and keeps the warm air in.
4. Install A Vapor Barrier
Most crawlspaces have no covering or protection on their floors. A substantial amount of water evaporates from the ground and increases the humidity in the crawlspace. The professional installation of a vapor barrier can help prevent this evaporation and keep water and moisture out.
Whatever the season, crawlspace enclosure is a beneficial addition to your home. It not only helps increase the air quality of your home by preventing mold and wood rot, it also provides a natural pest control barrier. It also helps keep the cold air out, which means your heating unit doesn’t have to work as hard, increasing its efficiency and decreasing your energy costs.
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A very common misconception is that moles hibernate during the winter. This is, in fact, not true. Moles do not hibernate and are quite active during the winter months. They actually remain active all winter long, continuing to dig and eat voraciously. Moles are omnivores that prefer to feast on grubs, earthworms, and other bugs. As the soil freezes, moles move from tunneling near the surface to digging deeper in the ground. When the weather starts to warm, the moles will tunnel closer and closer to the surface as the soil thaws and becomes easier to navigate.
Moles can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden. Moles cause dead grass patches because their tunneling disrupts the root system of grass. This creates patches that often start out yellow and eventually turn a light tan color. They also push soil and grass up as they dig, creating random mole hills across your yard. While these are easy to spot in the summertime, they can often go undetected in the winter months, giving you less opportunity to identify and eliminate them early. Because of this, it is important to take precautionary measures early before the winter season sets in. Here are some steps you can take for mole prevention this winter.
Keep It Dry
Overuse of sprinklers and irrigation systems can lead to saturated, loose soil – an ideal environment for moles. This loose soil is much easier to tunnel through and is often rich with earthworms and grubs, making it a literal feast for moles. Heavy rainfall can also create these conditions so it is important to be vigilant after storms. Limit watering unless necessary.
Lay Mulch Later
Mulch is a very effective insulator for plants during cold weather. While we are usually inclined to go ahead and mulch before the cold weather sets in, this creates an insulated environment for moles, as well as your plants. Instead of installing mulch in early fall, try to wait until after the first frost. Hopefully by that point, moles and other pests have established themselves in a more hospitable environment than in your yard.
Physical barriers can be very effective at preventing more damage to flowerbeds and trees. These barriers can be in the form of hardware cloth liners in the bottom and sides of flowerbeds or across the top of the bed to prevent digging or wrapped around the base of trees. By preventing them from digging you can limit the damage inflicted and hopefully encourage them to move on to another yard.
Utilize Natural Predators
Cats, snakes, and birds of prey are the most common natural predators of moles. Cats are especially notorious for pest prevention and rodent control around properties. If you don’t already have a cat, you may consider adopting one to roam your property and provide you with free pest control. Although it may be difficult, reconsider killing that snake you find on your property as they are also excellent at controlling rodent and other pest populations.
Eliminate Food Sources
As mentioned above, moles prefer to feed on earthworms, grubs, and other insects. In fact, mole problems often arise because of underlying grub problems. Be proactive in eliminating grubs and other pests from your yard to help control mole populations, as well.
Call A Professional
The cliche of “making a mountain out of a mole hill” isn’t far from the truth. Mole problems can manifest quickly into mole infestations and they can be extremely difficult to control and eliminate. Consider contacting a professional pest control company and setting up ongoing pest control services as these scheduled visits can help identify mole problems early and help resolve your mole issue quickly.
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Winter can be a difficult time for cockroaches. While they are adapted to thrive in warm temperatures, these cold-blooded pests cannot survive environments that are too hot or too cold. In fact, some species stop growing and reproducing when exposed to colder temperatures, usually consistently below 45 degrees, for extended periods of time. As temperatures drop, roaches will seek out shelter in warm places, most often in our homes and offices. These buildings provide them with everything they need to survive the winter – warmth, access to water, and an abundant supply of food.
Prevention is key when it comes to roaches. Here are 5 tips to prevent cockroaches from taking over your home this winter.
1. Clean Thoroughly.
Roaches are attracted to dirt and crumbs as a source of food Make sure to always wash dishes after a meal and put them away. Clean up any crumbs and spills immediately. Take out the garbage before going to bed. Clean any grease from your stovetop. Keep food sealed in airtight containers. Sweep, mop, and vacuum on a regular basis. Don’t leave pet food, treats, and water out overnight.
Clearing out clutter gets rid of places roaches can use to hide. Keep rooms clutter free and dusted often. Use plastic storage bins with lockable lids versus cardboard boxes. Eliminate newspapers and cardboard altogether as roaches love to breed in these materials.
3. Seal It Up
Roaches get into homes under doors and through cracks. Identifying these and sealing them up helps eliminate points of entry for cockroaches and other pests. Thoroughly inspect around windows and doors, along foundations and the roof, in attics and crawlspace vents, and around holes used for utility and plumbing lines. For small holes and cracks, use caulk to seal them. For larger holes, especially around pipes, use steel wool and foam to seal. Fine mesh wire can be used to seal around attic vents and chimneys.
4. Fix Leaks
Roaches, like most pests, need water and moisture to survive. Therefore, standing water or excessive moisture can attract roaches to your home. Regularly inspect your plumbing for leaks and repair them immediately. Make sure to check faucets, sinks, refrigerators, and appliances for leaks and excessive moisture. Crawlspaces are also a common source of excess moisture in homes. Consider crawlspace enclosure to help minimize moisture under your home.
5. Call A Pro
A cockroach infestation can be extremely difficult to control. Prevention can only go so far in the battle against roaches. If you suspect you have a problem with cockroaches, contact a professional pest control company who can help identify the type of roach you have, thoroughly inspect your home to identify points of entry or food sources, and help set you up with a comprehensive roach control treatment and prevention plan.
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Unlike many warm-blooded animals, snakes don’t actually hibernate in the winter. Instead, snakes go into a state known as brumation where snakes become less active and their metabolism slows down tremendously. Brumation is similar to hibernation in that snakes will sleep for long periods of time. They will, however, wake up to forage for food and water and if a sudden warm snap occurs and temperatures rise for a few days at a time. When the weather cools back down, they will go back into their brumation state once again. Brumation can begin anytime from September to December and last until March or April.
Because snakes are cold-blooded, they can’t regulate their body temperatures like warm-blooded animals can. When cold weather hits, snakes must find shelter from the temperatures by burrowing in holes or caves, under logs or rocks, in tree stumps, or by making their way into basements, crawlspaces, garages, barns, sheds, wood piles, and even car engines. Snakes are very quiet and experts at hiding so their presence often goes unnoticed until they are disturbed.
Now that you know where snakes might be hiding this winter, the next question is how to keep snakes away? Here are some tips on how to prevent snakes from hiding out on your property.
- Landscape Management: Rodents are attracted to tall grass and overgrown landscaping. By minimizing these unkempt areas on your property, rodent populations are reduced which, in turn, helps keep snakes who feed on these rodents away. Keep grass mowed and landscaping well maintained. Cut shrubbery regularly and trimmed away from your home and other buildings.
- Storage: Snakes will look for any area of cover that will protect them from the elements without being disturbed. They will often seek shelter in wood piles or other piles of debris on your property. Make sure that these stacks are kept at least 12″ off the ground and, if possible, stored in sealed containers.
- Wildlife Exclusion: Snakes can’t chew to create openings into your home so they take advantage of any openings that are already present, such as gaps near pipes, damaged window and door screens, open windows and doors, damaged soffits, crawlspaces that aren’t enclosed, and through cracks in the exterior of buildings. Carefully examine all of your property and seal any potential openings that snakes may utilize.
- Food Sources: Snakes are known to feed on rodents, lizards, and frogs. Eliminate these pests and you will help eliminate snakes. Get rid of any areas of standing water on your property. Keep landscaping well maintained to deter rodents. Inside your home, make sure to keep areas clean especially kitchens and pantries where spilled food and crumbs are readily available for rodents to feed on.
- Professional Service: Depending on the species, snake removal can be dangerous to undertake on your own. It is usually in your best interest to contact a professional wildlife control company when dealing with a snake issue. Establishing a regularly scheduled service plan can help identify pest risks before they become an issue. These professionals can also identify any areas where wildlife exclusion services may be beneficial and establish a comprehensive pest control program.
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It’s that time of year again! 2018 is winding down and the time has come to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like most of us, saving more money and having less stress definitely make our list of resolutions. What we don’t often think of as a resolution is pest-proofing your home. In fact, pest-proofing can actually save you money and stress in the long run. Most pests are seasonal – spiders and rodents are common in the winter months while mosquitoes are prevalent in the warmer months. There are, however, steps you can take any time of year to prevent pests year-round. Check out these 8 tips to pest-proof your home this New Year’s.
Put The Decorations Away Properly
As the holiday season winds down, we’re now faced with the sometimes arduous task of taking down and putting away our holiday decorations. Now is the time to go through them and get rid of any broken, worn out, or outdated decorations before you put the boxes away. Store your decorations in plastic containers that seal tightly rather than cardboard. Store your containers off the floor if possible. Make sure to properly dispose of live trees, wreaths, garland, etc.
Keep The Kitchen Clean
Pests come into our home for 3 reasons: shelter, food, and water. Keeping your home, and especially your kitchen, clean can eliminate 2 of those reasons. Clean your kitchen after each meal, wiping up crumbs and spills immediately. Store food, including pet food, in air tight containers. Sweep, dust, and vacuum regularly. Dispose of your garbage regularly and use garbage cans with lids.
Seal The Gaps
Pests often only need a very tiny crack or gap to gain access to your home. Inspect all of the exterior walls of your home for cracks and gaps and seal them tightly with caulk. Be especially careful around the places where utilities and pipes come into the home. Use door sweeps on all your exterior doors to seal the gap between the floor and the door. Use screens on doors and windows and make sure they are in good repair.
Move Your Firewood
There are lots of pests that like to hang out in the woodpile, hitching rides into your home on the logs. Keep your firewood stored at least 20 feet away from your home and elevate it if possible. Make sure to brush it off before you bring it indoors.
Prevent Pests Outdoors Too
Pest-proofing isn’t just limited to the inside of your home. Pest-proofing the outside of your home is also critical. Get rid of any dead bushes and branches and rake up all the leaves from your yard. Clean your gutters or consider installing gutter guards to eliminate clogs and standing water. Trim your bushes and trees back so they aren’t touching the sides of your home.
Eliminate The Moisture
Many pests like cockroaches are attracted to water. Check your home for leaks, even those that don’t seem like a big deal like dripping faucets and loose fixtures. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to reduce moisture under your home.
You don’t have to wait for spring to spring clean! Check that resolution off your list a few months early. Start at the lowest level of your home and work your way up room by room. Clear the floors, dust, sweep, mop, vacuum, clean out closets and drawers and get rid of anything you don’t need.
Call A Pro
If this all seems to overwhelming or if you already have a pest problem in your home, call a professional pest control company. The pros can assess your home from top to bottom and identify any sources of pest problems and provide you with a thorough evaluation and set you up with a treatment and prevention plan.