3 tips to keep unwanted pests from invading your home

Pay special attention to the seal around your garage door. Rodents can chew through an old seal, gaining access to your home, says Hodson. (Photo courtesy of Whitworth Pest Solutions, Inc.)

Pay special attention to the seal around your garage door. Rodents can chew through an old seal, gaining access to your home, says Hodson. (Photo courtesy of Whitworth Pest Solutions, Inc.)

Finding that home is being invaded by pests is never a pleasant discovery. As seasons and weather transition, spiders, insects and rodents attempt to enter buildings - usually with the intent of finding shelter.

Below are three tips to help keep pests from entering your home.

1. Reduce access through vents.

One of the best ways to prevent pest problems indoors is to exclude them from your home. Provide crawl space and soffit (attic) vents with heavy-duty galvanized hardware cloth screens. For crawl space vents, use quarter-inch mesh screens, and for soffit vents use one-eighth-inch mesh screens. 

Lightweight screen door screens are too flimsy and fine to be used to screen vents. Screen door screens get plugged up easily with dirt and debris and rats and mice are able to chew through them easily. 

You may wonder: “Why use screening? Why not just board up the openings?” Boarding up is okay in some situations, but never board up or seal openings which are intended for ventilation. In periods of extreme cold, vents may be temporarily covered to prevent pipes from freezing, but the covers should be removed promptly when it warms up.

2. Address openings around your home.

Gaps around pipe entrances, cables or other foundation openings can be sealed with mortar, boards or steel wool combined with an adhesive. Aerosol foam insulation can be used to keep out bugs, but rats and mice are easily able to chew through it. Also, make sure your crawl space access door to underneath the house fits tightly and has no gaps, which can permit pests.

3. Check seals around entry and garage doors.

Entry doors and garage doors should have tight fitting weather seals and fit properly. Insects and spiders can pass through a one-eighth-inch or less gap, mice a quarter-inch gap, and rats a half-inch gap. 

Door seals wear out with age and often don’t fit tightly after a few years. Thus, they should be replaced or adjusted regularly. Also, be sure all of your windows have tight fitting screens to keep out flying insects.

These are just a few of the ways in which you can help to keep pests outside. A “pest-proofed” home or business will have fewer pest problems, but even if you were to build a fortress, lock the doors and never leave, some pests still eventually get in. This is why it is important to have regular pest management visits in addition to pest exclusion tactics. 

Overall, this results in a successful long-term integrated pest management strategy.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Erik Hodson is the general manager of Whitworth Pest Solutions, Inc., providing pest control services in Seattle. Since 1975, Whitworth Pest Solutions has specialized in residential treatment for pests, including green options, rodent exclusion, tree and shrub care and more. You can follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @WhitworthPest.

As of February 10, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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