When the temperature drops, you aren’t the only one that seeks shelter indoors. Winter can send critters of all types scurrying into your house for warmth. If you don’t prepare for this onslaught of intruders before the cold sets in, you may wind up with an infestation.
To keep bugs and other pests at bay this season, you must act now. Take proactive measures and implement solutions that will discourage them from entering and wreaking havoc on your home.
1. Insulate Piping
Pipes that weave in and out of your home must withstand frigid temperatures and pests when winter rolls around. Maximize their resiliency by wrapping them in insulation. For most pipes, foil or fiberglass tube sleeves will do the trick. Additionally, if you have plumbing penetrations in the walls of your home, fill any gaps with caulk or expandable foam to seal up entryways into your house and keep pests out.
2. Inspect the Roof
Before ice dams form on your roof and icicles cling to your gutters, climb up on top of your home and check things out. Squirrels, raccoons, bats, birds and rats love to squeeze through small openings in your roof and take up residence in your attic. These pests can nest in your insulation and leave droppings everywhere. Therefore, it’s important to inspect and repair your roof before the cold sets in and critters make themselves at home.
3. Seal Gaps and Cracks
Bugs and small mammals can also find their way into your house through small gaps around doors and windows and cracks in the walls and foundation. Protect against infestations by sealing these openings in your home. Replace rotting wood and crumbling brick, add weather stripping to door frames and fill gaps around windows with caulk. Seal your ductwork as well to keep bugs out of your HVAC system.
4. Store Food Properly
Beyond the annoyance of winter pests, critters can also pose a serious health hazard to your family. About half of all winter rodent infestations occur in the kitchen, where fecal matter and urine can intermingle with your food. Sometimes, you won’t even notice the contamination until it’s too late and the whole family is sick. Therefore, on top of sealing your home, you should also store all food in airtight containers that rodents and insects can’t chew through or contaminate.
5. Keep Storage Areas Clean
Most bugs reside in warm, dry locations year-round, which is why your home is a dream destination for many pests. From boxes to shoes, they’ll take up residence in whatever’s lying around. For this reason, you should try to store items off the ground. Clean out areas like your attic, crawl space and garage and keep them free of debris throughout the winter. Otherwise, you may discover an infestation once spring arrives.
6. Clear the Yard
As temperatures drop and leaves pile up on your lawn, pay extra attention to your yard. Bugs and small mammals thrive in trees and leaves, so it’s wise to clear your yard of debris before the first snowfall. Clean out your gutters, clean up rotting fruit from trees and keep the compost pile in the back of your yard. Store logs and firewood at least 30 feet away from your home as well to ward off pests.
7. Put Screens On Air Vents
The air vents on the exterior of your home are a key entry point for insects, giving them easy access to your house and everything in it. One of the easiest ways to keep them out is to seal up vents using mesh screens. Look for aluminum wire mesh or hardware cloth that small insects can’t fit through and rodents can’t chew. This type of screen will keep even the most resilient pests out while still allowing proper airflow.
8. Reduce Moisture
While many critters prefer dry climates, some would much rather live in a moist environment like your bathroom or under the kitchen sink. These pesky invaders include cockroaches, ants and silverfish, although common predators like centipedes and spiders might also show up to feast in damp locations. Prevent these creepy crawlies from gathering in your home by fixing leaks, improving ventilation and placing absorption floor mats outside of the shower.
9. Take Out the Trash
Of course, taking out the trash is something you should be doing year-round. However, you must pay special attention to this chore as winter approaches. Gnats, ants, cockroaches and other insects will eat anything they can get their mandibles on and rubbish in your trash can is an easy meal. Keep food scraps and other garbage in a bin with an airtight lid and empty it regularly. You might also place insect traps around it to further discourage hungry pests.
When To Call the Professionals
Proactively working to deter pests is one thing, but dealing with an active infestation is another matter entirely. If you’ve done all you can to ward off critters to no avail, it may be time to call in the professionals. Often, exterminators and pest control companies have access to chemicals and solutions that aren’t available to consumers. Through fumigation and other treatment services, they can quickly and effectively eliminate infestations and prevent more critters from finding their way in.
Of course, hiring a professional to handle your pest problems may cost a pretty penny. However, your investment in your family’s health and safety will be more than worth it when winter finally arrives.