What is happening down there?
Technically speaking the crawl space is a place under your home where you gain access to electrical wiring and plumbing. Personally speaking, it is that creepy place where dust, bugs, and rodents collect. As a young child I can remember curiously looking into our crawl space. Our access point was through a large door located on the floor of the back porch. The door was heavy and would open with a loud creak. It was the place where the alley cats came to die and nightmares began. A couple quick peeks satisfied my curiosity. I didn’t return to a crawl space until I became a pest control professional.
A Healthy Crawl Space
As a professional I know the importance of maintaining the health of the crawl space. I know that a healthy crawl space will look a lot less like the one of my childhood. Instead of an open, exposed dirt floor, a healthy crawl space will be covered with a plastic vapor barrier to minimize moisture. Additionally, a healthy crawl space would not have evidence of living or dead animals in it. In fact, a healthy crawl space would not have an entry point large enough for an alley cat to get in. Ideally, all entry points would be sealed sufficiently to prevent invasion from rodents and other pests. Homeowners who fail to include inspecting their crawl space regularly in their home maintenance plan may face invasion by pests and/or water damage which can cause structural damage as well as health hazards to humans and pets.
Having a home built? Prevention is best!
Before construction begins on your new home, ask your contractor to have a pest control specialist (PCS) come and inspect the property. The PCS utilizes his or her knowledge to identify the types of insects, rodents and other animals which may become problematic during the construction process. Remember, when construction begins, it often means that animal and insect homes will be disrupted. Consulting with a PCS first ensures that as much preventive measures have been taken to insure the least amount of potential infestation later.
Second, consult with your home builder or contractor about what measures he or she will be taking to ensure that your crawl space is properly enclosed to prevent any moisture or rodent invasion. Once home construction is completed, make sure you take a look yourself or ask your contractor for pictures and/or videos of the finished product. Additionally, now is the time to consult with your PCS to develop a maintenance program that will prevent any future invasion from pests.
Already a homeowner? Thinking of buying a home?
Look in the crawl space. Look in the crawl space. Look in the crawl space.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of looking in the crawl space. A lot can be determined about the health and quality of your home here. Below is a list of things to look for while in the crawl. *Please note that this is not an extensive list.
· Follow any heat duct lines to look for evidence of rodents—such as droppings or footprints.
· Look along the sill plate for carpenter ant activity—such as frass, which looks similar to pencil shavings.
· Inspect your pillars and girders for wood boring beetles. Evidence of these pests will leave holes that resemble bb gun patterns or 1/8” oblong holes.
· Standing water on plastic or mud lines
· Water lines on walls
· Holes in plastic-or plastic missing in entirety.
· Hanging insulation
· Chew marks on wood
· Excessive amounts of fungus or mold
D.I.Y. tips without getting dirty!
Not interested in getting dirty? It is probably best to call in a professional. Without a visual inspection of the crawl space there is no way to be certain that the space is clean, safe and that the proper measures have been taken to prevent problems. However, you can utilize the following list can tip you off to crawl space problems. *Please note that this is not an extensive list.
· A strong odor in the home, garage, or vents.
· Standing water in yard, driveway or other areas near the home
· Rodents see in or around the home
· Neighbors report evidence of rodents
· Sudden onset of blowflies
Interested in having a Pest Control Specialist give you a free inspection of your crawl space? Contact us:
Greater Puget Sound area—Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia/Bremerton
Greater Portland, Oregon area—Vancouver, Clackamas, Beaverton