Make a point when pest proofing your basement to check for and fix any leaky water pipes under utility or bathroom sinks; ensure sump pumps and heat pumps aren't leaking, and be sure the washing machine lines are intact. Of course, other parts of the house should be water-free as well but basements and crawlspaces are particularly vulnerable at this time of year as temperatures drop. |
One of the most serious problems some homeowners face is basement pest control. Not only can cellar pests weaken your home's foundation by chewing or nesting, they can also carry dangerous diseases. However, you should first know how to recognize unwanted lower-level guests.
Basements often are home to unwanted insects:
Silverfish: flat, carrot-shaped, gray-colored, and quick moving, they enjoy eating glue, wallpaper, and old books. Centipedes: while they're scary looking, most are harmless to humans. Centipedes have many legs, segmented bodies, and long antennae. Spiders: most spiders are not dangerous--in fact, they prey on flies and other annoying household pests. However, some spiders are poisonous, including black widows and brown recluses.
To stop these basement pests from entering your home, caulk holes and cracks around your windows and doors. Also, lock your linens, books, and papers in well-sealed plastic storage containers.
A good idea is to first do a thorough assessment of your basement to learn which insects are inhabiting the area and how you can keep your basement clutter-free. In many cases, spiders, centipedes, and other creepy crawlies like to hide in dark corners and behind boxes, cartons, and other bulky items. Moisture and dampness may also attract certain basement bugs. Try running a dehumidifier in your basement to see if that can improve your situation.
Otherwise, not only will the pests mentioned above be problematic, but damp wood is especially attractive to termites. With the extensive damage they can cause, it's essential to take preventative steps now to protect against them. Of course, moisture elimination is only part of the pest-proofing equation. It's also important to remove offerings of shelter that may be lurking in and around your basement. Most spiders and insects come into the lower levels of homes through cracks and crevices. Walk around the exterior of your home and use caulk to seal any openings you see.
Pay particular attention to holes from utility lines and plumbing that come into your home. To check your work, stand in your basement with the lights off. If you see any streams of light coming in, grab the caulking gun and seal things a little tighter. If you see a lot of cobwebs in a certain area, there's a good chance there's a pest entry point nearby. Don't forget to check your dryer vents. If they remain open, you have practically rolled out the red carpet for pests
If you have a lot of items stored in the basement, such as unused pieces of furniture, you might want to store them in another area of your home. Spiderwebs can easily accumulate around furniture and termites will be attracted to wood. If you must keep furniture in the basement, consider covering it with plastic.
Keep floors as clean as possible to deter bugs, especially if your basement is carpeted. Give the area a thorough cleaning regularly, using steam and a commercial carpet shampoo. Vacuum the area after steam cleaning. If you have area rugs in the basement, shake them out weekly, and vacuum them as well.
The last component of pest proofing is the elimination of food sources. When it comes to food for spiders and other insects that often infest basements, natural sources are outdoors. Be sure to keep foliage trimmed back from your home and keep mulch 18 inches from the foundation of your house. As the leaves come down, be sure to remove them from gathering around your house as decaying leaf piles are very attractive to pests.
Keeping the basement clean and free of debris and food particles may be a deterrent as well. Depending upon which bugs have invaded the area, there are certain sprays or even natural deterrents such as eucalyptus, cinnamon, or mint that can help keep insects out of your basement. Forming some type of barrier by caulking or other means may help as well.
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