April 9, 2016 (Gephardt Daily/Family Features) — Spring is house-hunting season, and with warmer temperatures and increased rain, it is also the season when pesky creatures can invade homes.
Even minor flaws in a new home should not be ignored as they can potentially lead to pest damage, according to pest control website Orkin.com.
Ron Harrison, Ph.D., entomologist with Orkin, recommends new homeowners avoid making these five mistakes:
Overlooking tiny cracks. Even tiny cracks and crevices in the foundation, doorways and walls where pipes enter the home could be inviting ants, roaches, spiders, rodents and other pests inside.
A rat can squeeze through an opening as small as a quarter and a mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Cockroaches, ants and spiders can enter through tiny crevices, too.
Pests are attracted to shelter, food and water. Homeowners should promptly clean up all water and food spills, seal any cracks and crevices around doors, windows and pipes and install weather stripping around and under all doors, including garage doors.
Obtaining second-hand furniture. Buying a home is an expensive investment and it may be tempting to save money with furniture from a thrift shop or garage sale, but bed bugs, spiders and even scorpions have been known to dwell in second-hand upholstered furniture.
Once inside, they can spread from room to room. That’s why it’s important to inspect and quarantine – for several months, if possible – all second-hand furniture before bringing it inside your home.
Ignoring insulation. A home’s attic can be a gateway inside for many pests, such as rodents and cockroaches, that nest in insulation. It’s important to inspect insulation for pest activity and damage: insulation that is wet, matted down, chewed or covered with droppings.
New insulation technology incorporates materials specifically designed to help deter household pests.
Ignoring flooring and siding damage. Termites are called “silent destroyers” because they may be secretly hiding and thriving in a home or yard without immediate signs of damage. They cause more than $5 billion in damage every year in the United States, according to the National Pest Management Association.
House foundations, wood framing, furniture and shelves are all possible feeding sites for termites. In spring, termites can be seen swarming around windows or doors. Other signs of termite activity include buckling wood, swollen floors and ceilings and areas that appear to be suffering from slight water damage.
Brick and mortar homes are not termite-proof as they have wooden components, such as framing and flooring, that can host termite infestations. It’s important to work with a licensed professional to provide regular inspections.
Not repairing leaks. Minor leaks may seem to be just that -– minor -– but leaks or condensation, combined with increasing temperatures in the spring, can create ideal conditions for cockroaches and other pests.
American cockroaches, “camel crickets” and springtails can enter homes through tiny cracks and are attracted to damp areas, both in the attic or crawl space and indoors in the basement, kitchen or bathroom.
Small steps make a big difference. Fix leaking faucets, water pipes and A/C units and eliminate standing water on the roof or in gutters to help prevent an infestation.