Tips to keep pests out of crawl spaces

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From Special Reports

Crawl spaces tend to be no-go zones in many homes. With little room to maneuver and no heating or cooling, it’s no wonder people avoid crawl spaces. But pests may see crawl spaces in a wholly different light.

Rodents and insects that find their way into crawl spaces can do significant damage. According to the pest control experts at Terminix®, pests can destroy insulation, gnaw through wiring and air ducts and damage the wooden substructures of a home. Though many homeowners may go months if not years between trips to their crawl spaces, periodic visits to inspect for the presence of pests can help uncover any issues before they escalate into significant problems.

The discovery of pest problems in a crawl space can be unsettling. Some homeowners may wonder how long they’ve been hosting these uninvited guests, while others may wonder what they can do to evict them once and for all.

Fortunately, homeowners can employ various strategies to keep pests from taking over their crawl spaces.

• Seal cracks and openings. Pests may enter a crawl space through small cracks or openings, much like cold or warm air can enter through similar cracks around windows and doors. Terminix® notes that homeowners can apply caulk or foam insulation around cracks or openings in their crawl spaces. No crack is too small to seal, as small insects like termites and ants don’t need much room to maneuver their way into a home.

• Encapsulate the crawl space. Crawl spaces are dark and damp. Wet, humid conditions attract rodents and insects, increasing the risk of infestation. Encapsulation closes and secures a crawl space with a thick vapor barrier that lines the floor and walls of the crawl space. Vapor barriers can keep moisture from condensing on wood, making the area less likely to attract pests.

• Run a dehumidifier in the crawl space. Dehumidifiers can help homeowners control moisture in a crawl space. In fact, many companies that install vapor barriers recommend running dehumidifiers after a barrier has been installed.

• Examine the perimeter of your home, particularly the exterior walls. Periodic examinations of a home’s exterior may reveal brush that can make for ideal shelters for pests. Pests sheltering along the exterior walls of a home will eventually try to enter the home, likely through the crawl space. Remove piles of brush during routine walk-arounds of the home and trim any bushes or shrubs that also may be providing shelter to pests.

• Keep an eye on the crawl space. Though crawl spaces can be difficult to access, homeowners should visit these spaces periodically. Inspections can help homeowners determine if dehumidifiers are still running and allow them to check for pests or other issues, such as cracks, that may be inviting unwanted guests into their homes.

Crawl spaces can become homes and breeding grounds for pests if homeowners don’t take measures to prevent such issues.

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