What Lives Under Your House?

A discussion of the types of vulnerabilities in an older property that can allow pests to enter and take up residence such as cracks, gaps, holes and poor sealing.

Your fellow residents could include all types of pests from insects to rodents

It’s a sobering thought that many householders may be sharing their domain with various unwanted visitors in the form of pests ranging from small mites to large rats. While more or less any type of building can be under threat from pests, some older properties subject to inevitable wear and tear can be especially vulnerable.

Older buildings and vulnerability to pests

Because buildings deteriorate with age, older properties may offer more access opportunities for pests if routine maintenance is neglected. Even repairs and maintenance not undertaken thoroughly enough can provide an entry point – for example, the fitting of a new air vent with no mesh in front could be an open door to visitors of the wrong kind.

Small vulnerabilities – big opportunities for pests

This doesn’t only apply to properties with major maintenance issues; a crack, small gap in the floorboards or in an air brick is often enough for pests to enter uninvited. For example, a mouse only needs a gap of barely 6mm to pass through.

The types of vulnerabilities to watch out for

It’s worth going round your property and carrying out a ‘pest access inspection’ to identify vulnerable areas. If you suspect a pest infestation or know you have one, then calling in pest control professionals is key; along with clearing the infestation they can help in establishing where the pests accessed your property and advise you on steps to take to prevent future invasions.

Responsibility for repair

If you’re the property owner then naturally it’s up to you to organise effective repairs to prevent pest infestations. If you’re a tenant, then your landlord should take care of repairs to prevent or rid the property of an infestation whether it’s there when you move in or occurs afterwards due to vulnerabilities such as holes in the floorboards.

If you cause an infestation through carelessness, such as not emptying rubbish, then you’d be expected to deal with the problem; clarification can be checked here.

Check for the following:

Holes, gaps and cracks – these need sealing up as they can act as an entry point for smaller rodents and insects. Even larger rodents could gain access; rats can gnaw their way through very hard materials – even certain types of steel – so they’ll soon ‘open up’ a crack or gap to allow themselves access.

Small holes and gaps are enough for insects such as wasps to get into wall cavities or under floorboards and build nests.

Pipes and vents – check where pipes enter the property; if they’ve not been sealed properly the gap – even if it’s tiny – is enough to allow pests in. Air vents should be covered with a heavy duty mesh otherwise they can be as good as a ‘come on in’ invitation.

Drains and leaks – blocked drain grates and leaking pipes can be a magnet for pests as they are a source of moisture; even a mere few drops from a leaking pipe acts as a major water supply for many creatures.

Exposed wood – if exterior plaster or brickwork has crumbled exposing wood, this not only provides an easy access route for pests but further damage can result as rodents gnaw their way through and woodlice appear on the scene.

What pests could take up residence beneath you?

In short, a diverse range of them – here are some possibilities:

Rodents – rats and mice are the main threat, and they’re often thought of as the worst pests of all with their scope for causing damage and spreading disease.

Insects – cockroaches and wasps to name two of the worst.

Slugs and woodlice – they both like like damp conditions, so if moisture is collecting around your property they may appear. Woodlice especially will be on the scene when exposed and rotting wood is prevalent.

Spiders – maybe not thought of as a pest by many, but most householders would rather not play host to them. They’re attracted to darker, hidden areas. However, think twice before killing spiders in the loft, as some feed on woodworm and can help prevent damage.

Take care with repairs

While repairing general wear and tear and more significant damage in an older property is important, it’s also vital to know what you’re doing. Indiscriminately plugging holes, filling cracks and blocking up old and damaged venting could affect aspects such as the property’s ventilation.

A basic job like sealing a gap where a pipe enters the property is fine, but other tasks might be best left to a professional so as to effect the best repair possible.