How to Keep Pests Out of Your Crawl Space

“Where do they come from?!” It’s a question you’ve probably shouted to the heavens when you find another unsightly bug inside your home. Here’s what you need to know about crawl spaces and how to help keep pests out.

rat in crawl space

What is a crawl space?

First things first, a crawl space is an open area between the ground and the underside of your house. It's like a shallow basement (usually 3 to 4 feet deep). Crawl spaces are a type of building foundation and are often built beneath houses without a basement or a concrete slab, or houses with combination foundation.

They are formed by constructing foundation walls upon which a house sits. Most of the time, crawl spaces are made using cinder blocks with a brick facing. Some have concrete flooring, while others have gravel or soil.

What is the purpose of a crawl space?

As an alternative to basements and slab foundations, crawl spaces have a few advantages.

First, they are comparatively inexpensive. Second, they provide easy access to plumbing, electrical wiring and ductwork, so it’s more convenient for installation and repair purposes.

Finally, a crawl space keeps the house off the ground, providing protection from damage in flood-hazard areas and from pest infestation, especially in termite-prone areas.

Does my house have a crawl space?

Chances are, you already know the answer to this question. Types of houses that feature crawl spaces include doublewide manufactured homes (or pre-fab homes), modular homes, and traditional or older homes. In such structures, the crawl space area can be accessed from the outside or inside of the home (as with a traditional basement).

What kinds of pests can occupy my crawl space?

For all its advantages, crawl spaces can also become a dwelling for pests if not properly maintained. Rodents, such as mice and rats, and insects, such as termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, cockroaches, hornets, wasps, crickets and more, can infest a crawl space. 

What happens if pests get into my crawl space?

Simply put, pests can wreak havoc on and from your crawl space. They can destroy insulation, gnaw through wiring and air ducts and damage your home’s wooden substructures, among other things. Plus, a crawl space is like a front porch welcoming pests into your home. Once pests enter your crawl space, they can follow heated air ducts, water pipes and electrical wiring into your house.

It’s critical to address a pest infestation as soon as you discover it and take precautionary measures to discourage pests from shacking up in your crawl space in the first place.

How can I help prevent pests from occupying my crawl space?

The best defense is a good offense. In other words, take preventive measures to help stop the pest problem before it starts.

A good place to start is to seal all openings. Inspect your crawl space and use caulking, foam insulation or wood to close off any holes, no matter how small.

But there’s also the matter of smaller insects. To ward off termites, ants, roaches, etc., the key is to manage the conditions in your crawl space. Controlling moisture is critical. Not only can the accumulation of moisture cause conditions conducive to wood-eating organisms, compromising your home’s integrity, it can also attract pests.

Here are some effective moisture-control solutions:

  • Spread a crawl space vapor barrier. Vapor barriers can prevent moisture from condensing on wood. Vapor barriers should be applied directly to the floor to help prevent moisture and ground water from accumulating on wood surfaces.
  • Use crawl space encapsulation. Encapsulation allows you to seal the ground, supports and underside of your house with a high-density liner. You can also regulate the crawl space environment with a dehumidifier.
  • Install ventilators. A ventilator automatically opens and closes vents according to the temperature. Another advantage of a ventilators is that it they allow you to boost energy efficiency.

An effective pest control method is to remain vigilant. Maintain your crawl space by taking preventive measures. Set up an appointment with a Terminix® professional today to see how you can protect your crawl space from pests. 

 

 

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