12 Ways to Pest-Proof Your Home Against Rodents and Bugs
Every winter, rodents invade nearly 21 million U.S. homes, according to the National Pest Management Association. Mice, insects and spiders crawl in out of the cold, looking for a warm place to nest. But you can stop these common winter pests from nesting in your home.
Spiders and insects not only bite, they can also trigger allergies and asthma attacks. Rodents can carry hantavirus and other diseases, or spread food-borne illnesses such as salmonella. They also gnaw on your wiring, which can increase the risk of an electrical fire.
A few key preventative measures will help pest-proof your home during the colder months. They also help make your home more energy-efficient. By keeping the pests out and the warm air in, you’ll make your home more comfortable and reduce your utility bills, too.
How to Keep Out Common Winter Pests
1. Thoroughly inspect the exterior of your home. Use silicone caulk to seal any cracks and small crevices. Mice can squeeze through spaces as small as a dime, and rats can enter a space the size of a quarter.
2. If you find wider gaps, stuff them with steel wool, which discourages rodents from trying to gnaw their way inside.
3. Be sure to check for gaps around areas where pipes and utilities enter your home.
4. Replace loose mortar and weather-stripping around windows.
5. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from your home. Rodents and insects like to nest in wood piles. Moving firewood further from your home makes it harder for pests to get inside.
6. Keep your garage and other storage areas well organized. Store boxes on shelves, not the floor, to discourage pests from nesting in the cardboard.
7. Repair any damaged window screens.
8. Install door sweeps on all exterior doors.
9. Install protective screens on your chimney and attic vents.
10. Keep all shrubbery near your home properly trimmed. Make sure that any mulch is kept at least 20 inches away from your foundation.
11. Inspect your attic and basement to make sure each area is dry and well-ventilated.
12. Dispose of garbage promptly, and keep garbage cans as far away from your home as possible.
Know the Signs of an Infestation
According to a recent NPMA survey, more than half of all rodent infestations occur in the kitchen. If you suspect an infestation, look there first.
Watch for gnaw marks in corners, on baseboards, or around wiring. Also look for droppings in hidden crevices.
Listen for scurrying or scratching sounds in the walls, attic or other crawlspaces.
Don’t wait until pests have already invaded your home. Follow the preventative tips above to keep your home safe, warm, and pest-free all winter long.