Tips for Pest-Proofing Your Home
Your home may be your castle, but it can also be a welcome shelter for insects, rodents and other kinds of pests. To keep unwanted visitors away, take the following steps for pest-proofing your home.
Pest-proof your walls
Many insects, including outdoor cockroaches and carpenter ants, can invade your home and set up residence in your walls. The best way to deter pests from walls is to block their access points. Have a professional seal cracks and gaps on the exterior that could be the entry points for these pests. Likewise, water attracts many pests, so have any leaks repaired.
Make sure there is also at least a six foot clearance of vegetation from the foundation and move firewood piles away from the home, ensuring they do not touch walls. No trees or vegetation should come in contact with any part of the home since it provides a path of travel for pests that avoid treated surfaces.
Related > Firewood Pests: What To Look Out For
Pest-proof your porch
Make sure the area underneath your porch is free of debris that would attract pests and that the area is inaccessible to them. If you bring outdoor plants onto your porch, it's important to inspect the plant for insects before bringing them in. Once inspected, clean the outside of the pots to remove any insects, spiders or their eggs.
Pest-proof your windows
Sometimes it's best to step back and look at the obvious. Windows and window screens present an excellent opportunity for pests such as mosquitoes, stink bugs and ladybugs to enter your home. So, when it comes to home sealing for pest control, they shouldn't be overlooked.
To pest-proof your windows, check for damage, and fix any openings. Inspect screens for damage, check to be sure the screens are tight-fitting without any gaps, and fix any openings to keep mosquitoes, stink bugs, ladybugs and more pests out.
Related > How to Seal Windows to Keep Bugs Out
Pest-proof your bedroom
If you don't want the bed bugs to bite, take extra care to make sure they don't get into your home or bedroom. To start, never bring discarded furniture or mattresses into your home. If purchasing furniture from a second-hand store, inspect it for bugs before purchasing or bringing those items into your home. Additionally, always keep an eye out for bugs on your mattress, headboard and bed frame when replacing your sheets.
Suspect you have bed bugs? Wash and dry cloth items following the manufacturer's laundering instructions. You should also be on the lookout for these signs of bed bugs:
- Shed bed bug skins, exoskeletons or shells
- Look for fecal stains on your mattress and bedding. Fecal matter is often wet, found on hard surfaces, and appears as black spots the size of a pinhead. In addition to checking your mattress and bedding, look for it on the headboard, furniture, or cracks in walls near the bed.
- Blood stains on your sheets and pajamas
- If you see any of these signs that could indicate bed bugs, contact a pest control professional for an inspection.
Pest-proof your floors
Did you know that regularly vacuuming can remove insects as well as the foods that they eat such as dust? Vacuuming can help remove spiders hiding in corners, behind furniture, sill plates and between basement joists. Additionally, be sure to inspect the legs and underside of furniture for pests that can easily make their way to and from your carpet, as well.
While it may remove flea eggs, vacuuming alone will not control a flea problem and much stronger measures—namely, enlisting the aid of a pest removal service—may be required.
Pest-proof your roof
One way to help mouse-proof a house is to pest-proof the roof. Rats and mice can fit through tight spaces, so having a professional check your roof for potential points of entry is key to helping prevent an invasion. A professional should look for loose shingles or portions of your roof that may pull away from the awning. All vents, roof returns, flashing along your chimney and skylights could also have gaps that give pests easy access to your home and should be examined. If the roof inspector find holes or access points, the professional will provide recommendations and solutions that will address the structural component.
Pest-proof your attic
Check for mice, squirrels or raccoons already living there. If you find evidence of an unwanted guest, call your pest professional to get rid of them. Once the pests are removed from your attic, have the entry points sealed off. For instance, look for gaps or holes in facia, soffits, roofline, chimney, gables, and roof vents. Then, enlist the aid of a professional to repair them.
Trapping prior to sealing is important — otherwise, you may need to deal with the removal of a dead animal from your attic or walls if it can't find food and water, or the animal can do damage to the structure when trying to escape.
Pest-proof your doors
Don't think pests can come in through the front door? A gap of 1/16" or smaller can allow insects and spiders inside, and spaces as small as ¼" (the diameter of a pencil) are large enough for mice.
To check for spaces that may potentially allow pests to creep indoors, at night turn on the porch light and shut off the interior room lights. If you see light coming through under the door, then pests can enter under the door. To help keep pests out, install or replace door sweeps or thresholds at the base of all exterior doors so that pest-sized gaps are eliminated.
Pest-proof your basement or crawl space
Cool, dark and underground, basements are a favorite entry point for pests of every size. To help keep them away, take the following precautions.
- Don't let trash or recycling accumulate.
- If you store perishable food, make sure it's stored in airtight containers or plastic bags.
- Look for any cracks in the walls or foundation, and keep them sealed. Professional help is recommended.
- Keep walls and floors dry. If you have a moisture problem, consider investing in a dehumidifier and reaching out to a moisture-control professional.
- If you store clothes or papers in your basement, keep them away from moisture and store them in airtight containers.
- Keep laundry off the floor. Wet laundry, such as towels, should be hung in a way that allows them to dry while waiting to be laundered—such as over a towel rack or shower curtain rod.
Minimize ways pests can enter your home
Pests of every size will look for ways to enter your home. The more you limit their options, the easier it will be to keep them out.
- Seal openings where pipes and wires enter the foundation and siding with mortar, caulk, urethane expandable foam or copper mesh. It is important to know that there are intended gaps in brick and other materials that allow air to ventilate and liquid to weep out of the wall so that mold/moisture issues do not occur.
- Seal cracks around windows and doors using good-quality silicone or acrylic latex caulk/sealant. Prior to sealing, clean cracks and remove any peeling caulk to help with adhesion.
- Repair gaps and tears in screens; the smaller the screen mesh, the harder it is for pests to enter.
- Invest in a chimney cap to help exclude birds and nuisance wildlife.
Talk to a professional
If you're concerned that unwanted pests have already entered your home, talk to a pest control professional. They can help you to identify the type of pest and locate its most likely point of entry. The professionals at Terminix are specifically trained to identify steps that you can take to keep pests out of your home, as well as implement treatment options that are right for you.