by Phillip B. Burum, DR Horton,
President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter
With Spring on the horizon, these mid-winter months provide a great opportunity for homeowners to take steps to protect their homes from pests while paving the way for spring cleaning and landscaping in the coming months.
While today’s homes are built to the highest standards with state-of-the-art materials, coatings and designs by the most well-trained and sophisticated building professionals in history; our sunny Mediterranean climate means today’s homeowners need to be proactive when protecting their homes, families and pets from harmful pests.
Pests of varying shapes and sizes present unique risks to a home and those who live in it. The bulk of those threats such as rodents, invasive plant species and insects will seek to migrate to a home that provides sufficient water, shelter and food difficult to find during the winter months. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites alone have been estimated to cause nearly $5 billion worth of damage in the U.S. every year.
Addressing these threats early and often is a necessity for the preservation and enjoyment of your home. So, if you are a homeowner, you should first consider retaining a pest control contractor for monthly inspections and preventative treatments around the home – a nominal investment that could save thousands in damages later on. Look for a reputable contractor or service by consulting with your neighbors or your local chamber of commerce. Before purchasing and storing pesticides, be sure to check out pest-free protection on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website at www.epa.gov/pesticides on the web.
Many pests can survive long periods without food but need water to survive. To shut off their water supply, check for leaks in and around faucets, dishwashers and washing machines immediately. Be sure to empty flowerpots and plant stands of excess water.
Inspect your home’s exterior features such as rain gutters for any areas where debris can accumulate and clean and secure them. Especially in older homes, rain gutters that are not secure can often direct rain into the wrong places and create serious structural issues.
For landscaping, homeowners should take advantage of this time of year to trim back any plants, trees or shrubs that make contact with the home or could grow to touch the home. Plants replenished by rain followed by warm sunny months such as we experience here in the Baldy View Region grow more rapidly than in other climates, so check them periodically. Cut back any landscaping that might obscure unwanted intruders and/or provide a gateway for pests. Rake debris and mulch away from the base of your home and keep it to a minimum to allow for adequate drainage.
For older homes with wood or composite shingles, replace any rotted or decaying shingles. Seal any cracks and openings along baseboards, behind sinks and around pipes and windows and repair or replace any damaged door and window screens.
Carefully check any points where utility lines enter the house. Address any damage to the foundation and windows that might have occurred. Make sure attics and crawlspaces are well ventilated and dry.
If you live in our rural or mountain areas or own an older home, have a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-Certified Chimney Sweep inspect your chimney and fireplace. You can find a CSIA-Certified chimney sweep by visiting www.csia.org on the internet. If you keep stacks of firewood outside of your home, keep them neat and place them away from the house and off the ground.
Remember to keep a tight lid on all trash and recycling containers and empty them often.
If you buy food in bulk, store food such as cereals, flour and sugar in plastic containers rather than in their original packaging.
With the major growing seasons coming up, these simple steps now can save you a lot of headaches and money down the road from unwanted visitors.
The BIA Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of home ownership. For additional information on homebuying, home improvements or the benefits of homeownership, go to www.biabuild.com on the web.