how to pest-proof different parts of your home
- Doors: While the average pest might not be able to just walk through the door, insects and spiders can squeeze between gaps 1/16 of an inch or smaller. And then there are mice, which can compact their bodies to fit through holes approximately 1/4 of an inch—roughly the diameter of a pencil. That’s why you should always make sure your front door and any other doors leading out of your household have proper weather-stripping, and that the seal at their base is as tight as possible. Installing door sweeps on exterior doors is also important for reducing gaps that pests can fit through. To check if pests may be able to fit through your door, turn off the lights inside your home, and turn on your exterior lights. If you can see a porch light shining through from inside, then the gap under your door is probably big enough to let pests in.
- Windows: Like your doors, weather-stripping and checking for proper sealing around your windows is essential for good pest prevention. It is also a good idea to inspect screens for holes, as this is a common way for mosquitoes and other flying pests to enter your home. Other than that, just look for cracks and holes that might have appeared in your window, and consider replacing any windows that look like they could be vulnerable to pests.
- Walls: Everything from cockroaches to certain kinds of ants may decide to take up residence inside your walls. While you obviously don’t want to tear down your walls just to look for pests, it is a good idea to check for cracks and holes in your walls that pests could use to slip in through. Also, moisture is a common attracter for many pests, so if your property has recently experienced any water damage, or if you have any active leaks, you should promptly call a professional plumber to take care of these issues. Outside, you should create a six-foot barrier between any vegetation and your walls, as pests commonly use plants as an entry point into your home. And watch out for electrical issues, as it is not uncommon for rodents to chew on your wiring once they have invaded a house. If this is something you have noticed in your home, you will want to call an electrician and a pest control tech for an inspection.
- Floors: One of the best ways to prevent pests from traveling on your floors is simply to keep them clean. Vacuuming can help remove insects that feed off dust, and may get rid of spiders that have hidden in random corners. You will also want to inspect the area under your furniture occasionally, as pests may be using the legs of your couches, chairs, and tables as walkways. And of course, sweep regularly in the kitchen and other parts of your home to reduce food crumbs and other debris from the floor, as this is one of the most common things that attracts roaches, rodents, and ants to your home.
- Porch: The average porch has a lot of debris under it that can attract pests, so you’ll want to keep that area as clean as possible. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you keep any plants on your porch, these may be attracting insects, so you should inspect them closely before bringing them inside for watering (in addition to simply limiting your amount of exterior plants to a reasonable number.) Cleaning outdoor plant pots periodically to remove spider eggs and webbing is also a good idea.
- Roof: The roof is one of the most common ways for rats and mice to enter your property, as rodents often make their way from nearby trees or even telephone lines onto your roof. That’s why it is a good idea to have a professional inspect your roofing for cracks and holes occasionally, looking for loose shingles or portions of your roof that may break apart from the awning. This is important not only for proper pest prevention, but also just for ensuring the structural integrity of your property. You will also want to inspect roof vents, roof returns, the flashing along your chimney and skylights, and any other areas that pests could enter through.
- Attic: Rats, mice, squirrels, bats, and even raccoons have been known to take up residence in dormant attics. Once they get in, they can cause a lot of damage, tearing up your insulation and leaving droppings everywhere. That’s why in addition to patching up entry points in your roof, you should also have a professional inspect your facia, soffits, roofline, chimney, gables, and other areas where pests could make their way into your attic. Also, if you are going to set traps in your roof, make sure to do it before you seal up the area, as failing to do this in the proper order could leave you with a dead animal in your attic.
- Crawlspace/Basement: Pest-proofing your crawlspace or basement is pretty much all about managing what you’re storing there. Obviously, you will also want to manage dust and debris, but minimizing clutter overall is important for reducing the number of potential pest hiding places. You should throw out old boxes too, as they are common spots for pests to create a nest, and rodents may even use paper and cardboard debris for shelter. If anything in your basement or crawlspace has experienced water damage, throw it away promptly, and consider getting a dehumidifier to control moisture levels in the basement overall. If you store clothes, keep them in sealed containers to avoid moths. The same goes for storing food, and remember that you should only be storing non-perishable items to begin with. Also, if you do laundry in the basement, always hang it out to dry on a towel rack—never let wet clothes lie on the floor.
- Bedroom: As a rule of thumb, try to keep food out of your bedroom, as this is the most common thing that will attract pests like roaches and rodents to this area. However, the biggest pest you have to worry about in the bedroom is bed bugs. Don’t ever bring secondhand furniture in from the street to your bedroom (or any other room in your house), as bed bugs often enter homes this way. If you store suitcases in your bedroom, consider leaving them outside and always wash clothes right away when you get back from a trip, as bed bugs love to hitch a ride when people travel. If you are purchasing secondhand furniture, make sure to do it from a reliable source, and inspect the items thoroughly before bringing them into your home. It is also a good idea to purchase a mattress protector to help reduce the chance that bed bugs will take over your sleeping area, and do not hesitate to insect your headboard, bedframe, and mattress often for signs of bed bugs. If you do notice signs of a bed bug infestation, such as itchy red bites on your body, droppings, eggs/shells, blood stains, or a sweet, musty odor, call a professional right away, as bed bugs are virtually impossible to get rid of without the assistance of an experienced pest professional.
- Other Areas of Your Home: As a rule of thumb, the best thing you can do to keep pests away from your home across the board is to seal up cracks and holes wherever possible. It is also important to practice good cleaning and storage, never leaving messes out in the kitchen, always putting away leftovers properly, and reducing moisture in areas like your bathroom. These steps may not keep pests out of your home entirely, but they can go a long way to preventing a full-on infestation.
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