Preventing Pest Entry of Your Home
Today I am going to discuss pest entry into your home and cover a few cases I have encountered this year. Regardless of how new, big or expensive your house is there is a constant attempt by a variety of critters to take up residence with you. While some animals such as a family of raccoons can be cute and fun to watch they can wreak havoc on your home if allowed to take up residence in your attic, walls or crawlspace. You should keep in mind that you don’t have to live in the middle of the national forest to have encounters with wildlife.
The damage caused by a variety of animals and insects can be expensive and time consuming to repair. Entry prevention is often inexpensive and easy. The primary means of access into your home is holes. These holes can be very small. Mice and field rats can squeeze through a crack as small as ¼ of an inch. A squirrel can gain entry in a hole as small as 1 inch and a raccoon can get through a hole as small as three inches in diameter. If they can get their head in the hole they can get their body through the hole.
The first case I will review was in a well maintained home. The house was constructed with an underground electrical service. The electrical service conduit had separated at a joint. There was a gap of approximately ¼ of an inch at this joint. Once I had removed the electrical distribution panel cover I found a large buildup of mud dauber nests. Mud daubers are a member of the wasp family. While they rarely sting unless provoked or disturbed they can and will sting. The buildup was severe enough that it could prevent proper operation of the branch circuit breakers and overheating of the conductors. In this case it was recommended that the electrical distribution panel be cleaned and evaluated by a licensed electrician once the conduit was repaired. $$$
As I was inspecting the exterior of another house I noted that the screens on 2 of the soffit vents were damaged. Once I entered the attic I found numerous large piles of raccoon droppings, commonly known as toilets. Raccoon feces and urine can contain a variety of parasites and bacteria harmful to humans and pets such as Roundworm, Giardiasis, Leptospirosis and Salmonella. In some cases infection can occur by the inhalation of the spores contained in the feces. While the home owner can perform cleanup if the infestation is detected early enough often professional remediation is required do to the amount of feces and the extent of the damage present. $$$
In case number 3 while inspecting the exterior of the house I noted that the clothes dryer exhaust cover was damaged. Inspection of the dryer duct revealed a large buildup of acorns, walnuts and leafs. A squirrel had found a warm dry place to spend the winter. While the damage was minimal, if this had gone undetected damage to the dryer and entry to the living area could have taken place. $$$
On another house I found a buildup of bat guano (feces) on the deck directly below a gable vent. Inspection of the attic revealed the gable vent screen was damaged and of insufficient strength to prevent pest intrusion. Bats had taken up residence in the attic which resulted in a large buildup of guano. Exposure to bat guano can be harmful to humans. Histoplasmosis is a disease you can get from exposure to bat guano. This is an infectious disease caught by inhaling the spores of the Histoplasma Capsulatum fungus. Most cases of bat infestation require remediation by a pest control specialist. $$$
In summary, while you are conducting your home maintenance this spring keep a lookout for signs of pest entry. Any holes that shouldn’t be present need to be sealed. Take all necessary steps required to insure the pest have been removed prior to sealing. Look for holes in the soffit and damaged soffit vents or fascia, damaged or missing foundation vents and electrical and gas service entry points. On house trailers look for damaged or missing underpinning. This list is not inclusive. There are numerous ways a pest can gain entry to your home. If you are in doubt or do not feel you are capable of detecting the signs of pest intrusion please contact us for a limited (reduced fee) inspection of the crawlspace, exterior and attic of your home.