Keeping Termites Away from Your Home
need three things to thrive: food, moisture and shelter.
Don't give them what they need!
your gutters clean. Wet leaves provide moisture and food
for the pests, and since the gutters are attached to
your home, it's an easy point of entry. Clogged gutters
can also contribute to moisture problems by soaking wood
off the roof and fascia boards. Wood piles and
construction debris, boards left touching the ground or
fences without proper ground clearance can all be food
sources. Cardboard is also a favorite food of termites
and damp cardboard around or under a house could provide
an ideal opportunity for termites.
Building a deck? Make concrete barriers part of your
plan and be sure to use borate-treated, pressurized
wood. The USDA's Forest Service has a bulletin on
subterranean termites with helpful hints on construction
practices. Your contractor may also have suggestions for
preventing termite infestations. Stucco facades
extending near or into the soil surface provide a haven
for termites, allowing them to move into a home
give them moisture.
sure the air conditioner tank is at least four inches
from your house. Don't let it leak near your house.
Dryers should vent away from the house -- the warm air
is moisture-saturated from dried clothes. Washers should
drain away from the house, too.
for leaky faucets. Make fixing them a priority.
roofs are a bad idea; they harbor moisture and invite
Summer sprinkler play is fun for kids, but make sure the
faucet is turned off --tightly -- after the water games
are finished. Insulation around pipes should not extend
all the way from the house to the soil. After cold
spells are over, the insulation should be removed or at
least have a gap large enough to allow homeowners to
give them easy access to shelter.
vines, flower gardens and storage containers away from
your house. Make a garden path if you must have them
close by. Their roots feed the termites, and the leaves
give the termites the moisture and shade they crave.
Also, you won't be able to see the clay tubes the
termites make to sneak into your home.
your house for stains, holes and other infestation
signs. Wings on your window sill, particularly inside
the house, are a sign that you need to have your home
checked; don't just hope the problem will go away.
it's time for treatment
best to call a professional pest control company when
you have an infestation. They have the equipment and
expertise necessary to do the job thoroughly. They can
also check your home for potential access points. The
same is true for treating infested trees in your yard.
Although new chemical treatments will be available soon
for trees, a professional can provide more intensive
treatment, check your home for termites regularly.
There's even discussion about making five-year
treatments a standard part of prevention.
Source: USDA Agricultural Research Service
KEEPING WATER AWAY FROM YOUR HOUSE:
people, water is necessary for survival. However, for a house, water
can be a destructive force that can lead to wood rot, peeling paint,
insect infestation, and shorter lifespan of roofing and siding and
higher maintenance costs.
Investigate, Identify and Repair All Leaks and Cracks
best way to prevent water damage from rainwater and snowmelt is to
ensure the exterior materials of the building are properly constructed
and maintained. The following are tips for identifying and eliminating
sources of water intrusion in your home. Common places where water
Check for leaks around your windows and doors, especially near the
corners. Check for peeling paint, it can be a sign of water getting
into the wood. Inspect for discolorations in paint or caulking,
swelling of the window or doorframe or surrounding materials.
or replace shingles around any area that allows water to penetrate the
roof sheathing. Leaks are particularly common around chimneys,
plumbing vents and attic vents. To trace the source of a ceiling leak,
measure its location from the nearest outside wall and then locate
this point in the attic using a measuring tape. Keep in mind that the
water may run along the attic floor, rafters, or truss for quite a
distance before coming through the ceiling.
Foundation and Exterior Walls:
Seal any cracks and holes in external walls, joints, and
foundations, in particular, examine locations where piping or wiring
extends through the outside walls. Fill all cracks in these locations
for leaking faucets, dripping or "sweating" pipes, clogged drains, and
faulty water drainage systems Inspect washing machine hoses for
bulges, cracks or wetness. Replace them every few years or sooner if
problems are found. Inspect the water heater for signs of rust or
water on the floor.
Check for termite damage in wood materials such as walls, beams, or
floors. Any wood exposed to the exterior can potentially lead to
moisture intrusion or termite infestation.
Prevent Water Damage Through Good Home Maintenance
can help prevent future leaks and water intrusion by regularly
inspecting the following elements in your home and making sure they
remain in good condition.
Flashing, which is typically a thin metal strip found around doors,
windows, thresholds, chimneys, and roofs, is designed to prevent water
intrusion in spaces where two different building surfaces meet.
vents, including clothes dryer, gable vents, attic vents, and exhaust
vents, should have hoods, exhaust to the exterior, be in good working
order, and have boots.
Check for holes, air leaks, or bypasses from the house and make sure
there is enough insulation to keep house heat from escaping. Among
other things, air leaks and inadequate insulation results in ice
damming. If ice dams collect around the lower edge of a roof, rain or
melted snow can back up under the shingles and into the attic or the
house. Check the bottom side of the roof sheathing and roof rafters or
truss for water stains.
sure that basement windows and doors have built-up barriers or flood
shields. Inspect sump pumps to ensure they work properly. A battery
backup system is recommended. The sump pump should discharge as far
away from the house as possible.
relative humidity in your home should be between 30% and 50%.
Condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, and musty
smells are signs that you may have too much humidity in your home.
Check areas where air does not easily circulate, such as behind
curtains, under beds, and in closets for dampness and mildew. Be sure
to use bathroom exhaust fans following warm showers or baths. When
going on trips, turn the temperature up on the air
conditioning, not off. The air conditioning system helps remove
moisture from your home. If you are concerned about the humidity level
in your home, consult with a mechanical contractor or air conditioning
repair company to determine if your HVAC system is properly sized and
in good working order.
Check drain pans to insure they drain freely, are adequately sloped
toward the outlets and that no standing water is present. Make sure
drain lines are clean and clear of obstructions. Drain pan overflows
usually occur the first time the unit is turned on in the spring.
Clean prior to first use with compressed air or by pouring a
water-bleach solution down the drain line until it flows freely.
Expansion joints are materials between bricks, pipes, and other
building materials that absorb movement. If expansion joints are not
in good condition, water intrusion can occur. If there are cracks in
the joint sealant, remove the old sealant, install a backer rod and
fill with a new sealant.
Wood Sheathing and Siding:
Replace any wood siding and sheathing that
appears to have water damage. Inspect any wood sided walls to ensure
there is at least 8" between any wood and the earth.
drywall is an extremely porous material and is difficult to dry out
completely, damaged areas should be replaced if any signs of moisture
are present. One way to protect drywall from moisture intrusion in the
event of a flood is to install it slightly above the floor and cover
the gap with molding.
Exterior walls should be kept well painted and sealed. Don't place
compost or leaf piles against the outside walls. Landscape features
should not include soil or other bedding material mounded up against
trees trimmed so that branches are at least 7 feet away from any
exterior house surface. This will help prolong the life of your siding
and roof and prevent insects from entering your home from the tree.
Vines should be kept off all exterior walls, because they can help
open cracks in the siding, which allows moisture or insects to enter
and adjust the spray pattern of the irrigation heads to minimize the
water sprayed directly onto the house to avoid excessive water near
Act Quickly if Water Intrusion Occurs
water intrusion does occur, you can minimize the damage by addressing
the problem quickly and thoroughly. If water is flowing into the home
from burst piping or damaged appliances, shut off the water supply,
typically found outside the house or at the meter. Immediately remove
standing water and all moist materials, and consult with a licensed
building professional who can determine the extent of the repairs
necessary. Water damage left unattended can result in structural
failure or, potentially, mold growth.
Should your home become damaged by a catastrophic event such as fire,
flood or storm, take appropriate actions to prevent further water
damage once it is safe to do so. This may include boarding up damaged
windows, covering a damaged roof with plastic sheeting, or removing
wet, damaged rugs, carpet, or personal belongings. Fast action on your
part will help minimize the time and expense for repairs, resulting in
a faster recovery.
Source: Institute for Business and Home Safety. IBHS is a national
nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry to reduce deaths,
injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused
by natural disasters.
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