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Seattle Pest Control and Home Services

Friday, October 11, 2013

2 Incredibly Simple Steps To Make Sure Water Doesn't Ruin Your Home

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Let's face it, living in the Puget Sound area is pretty wet.  Our homes take a beating with the amount of rain they have to endure all year.  Water really is the enemy of your home.  Think about the design of your home, the slant of the roof, the siding and the gutters.  All of these elements are designed to move water away from the structure.  But, what happens when water sneaks past these design elements and comes to rest in your crawl space?  Well, a lot of damage can result when you have standing water in your crawl space.

I go to homes all the time to do pest control treatments and jump into the crawl space to find water pooling up and wreaking havoc on the structure without the home owner even realizing that it is there.  Standing water left unaddressed can result in ruined insulation, ductwork and not to mention the structural elements of your home.  It is a very big deal when water invades your crawl space.

It is for this reason that I want to give you two incredibly simple preventative steps that can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.


#1- Look in your crawl space!

Look, I told you it would be simple.  The vast majority of people that have had their crawl space ruined by standing water never even knew they had a problem until the pest control company, cable company, or plumber went down there for something else and discovered it.  You should pop the hatch on your crawl space door and look in there with a flashlight at least a few times a year (especially after a heavy rain).  Catching standing water early is the key to avoiding any major repairs.  Once you realize that you have a drainage issue with your home, you can start to think about preventative drainage systems like a French drain or sump pump, but you will never know you need one until you look!

#2- Observe where water runs off your property

Okay, this is pretty simple too.  When it is raining, you should probably do a walk around your property.  Does the water pool anywhere near the foundation or in the yard?  Does the property slope towards your home?  This was the case with the home that I moved into last August.  The property sloped straight towards a foundation vent and I didn't need to wait until the rain came to know that this would be a huge problem.  I decided to install a French drain before the rainy season and I have never had a problem with it.  By observing the water run off, you can sometimes easily catch major problems before they happen.

I warned you that it was going to be simple, but despite how simple these steps are, many people neglect them.  Don't be one of them and make sure that water is not ruining your home!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why You Are About To Get Ants In Your Kitchen

Seattle pest control company
If you were to step outside right now, you would see the fall leaves changing color and the chill of cold air.  Summer is over, fall is upon us and winter is close behind.  In the world of pest control that I work in, this is a quiet time.  Many of the pests that wreak havoc all summer long, decide to call it quits and wait until spring.  But, not all of them.

As a Seattle Pest Control Company, we find that the highest volume of our sugar ant treatments take place in the fall when the weather starts to cool and the rain comes pouring down.  This is because sugar ants start to move with changes in barometric pressure.  We have had plenty of that lately in the Puget Sound area, haven't we?  The driving rain and bitter cold start to move many pests inside, but especially the sugar ants. 

If you are looking to avoid having your kitchen taken over by ants, there are a few things that you can try. 


1)  Weatherize your home

If you were planning on doing this anyway, why not do it now?  Ants can fit in through the tiniest of openings, but lets not make it easy on them.  Gaps under the door or around windows can provide a quick access point for ants to come in.  By making it a little more difficult on them, you can stop them from establishing a nest and having to deal with it later.


2)  Do a preventative exterior treatment

Usually we do not recommend using store bought products for pest control because they rarely work, but when using it as a preventative measure, you greatly increase your odds of getting the job done.  Of course, the ultimate answer would be to call a pest control company, but if you want to try the do-it-yourself route, go pick up some Ortho Home Defense and spray the foundation of your home.  This will work as a good protective barrier and might help you avoid an infestation.

3) Start up a preventative maintenance program with a pest control company

This might not be as expensive as you think.  Our pest control company charges about $60 to $70 to do a quarterly preventative pest service and it will cover just about any pest.  Take a look at your budget and decide if this is worth it to you.  Obviously, this would be the best way to keep ants out of your kitchen.

Lastly, if you have any questions about ant treatments or just need a little advice, we would welcome your call!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Not To Do When You Have Fleas

Bremerton Washington pest control
Whether you have pets or not, you will probably experience a flea infestation in your home at some point.  You have probably tried a lot of things to get rid of them and maybe some of them worked for awhile and maybe some of them made things worse.  Let's take a moment to talk about things you should NOT do when encountering fleas in your home.

1)  Don't Set Off Flea Bombs
Probably the most counterproductive thing that you can do is start setting off flea bombs.  Unfortunately, this is the first thing that many people try in their do-it-yourself exterminating.  It seems like it should work, right?  You fog the whole house and get every nook and cranny, killing every flea in the process.  Only, it doesn't actually work.  A flea bomb is just a repellent with almost zero residual.  This makes it the equivalent of spraying mosquito repellent on your body while in the woods.  It doesn't actually kill the fleas, but just pushes them deeper into your furniture, baseboards, etc.  This can give the appearance that it "worked for awhile", but don't fool yourself.  It doesn't work!

2)  Don't Go Cheap On Flea Medication For Your Pets
When it comes to flea medication for your dogs and cats, you really get what you pay for.  You can run over to the dollar store and get flea medication, but don't expect it to kill any fleas.  Instead, spend the extra bucks and get some Frontline or Advantage flea medicine.  It will work great and will stop the pets from continuing to bring in more and more fleas.

3)  Don't Forget To Check The Crawl Space
It seems like a weird thing to suggest when you are dealing with fleas, but in realty the fleas may not be coming from your pets at all.  You could have other animals living under your home that are causing the problem.  For example, raccoons are absolutely loaded with fleas and home owners may not even realize that they have one under their house!  Also, rodents carry fleas as well.  If you don't take care of the source of your flea problem, you will have little success in controlling them.

Things That Are Worth Trying
If you are really stuck on doing the do-it-yourself route, you can try a few things.  If you want to get a product, your best bet is to try some of the powders that you put on your carpet.  They are not super effective, but are better than any other alternatives available to you.  You can also try vacuuming as often as you can stand.  Vacuuming will pick up flea eggs around the house and allow you to dispose of them outside before they hatch.  Lastly, throwing your linens in the dryer on high heat for about 30 minutes can be effective in killing a lot of fleas.  Go ahead and give these things a shot and if they aren't working for you, be sure to give us a call and we can help you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What's A Vapor Barrier And Why You Need One?

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If you happened to look outside your window today, you probably noticed that the rain has returned to us.  We are used to this in the Seattle area, but it was nice to have it gone for a little while at least.  Of course you don't really need me to tell you that we live in a wet area of the country, but what you may need to hear is how all this moisture affects your home.  Water is the enemy of your home.  In fact, your entire home was built and designed to repel water.  You can look up and see the slope of your roof, gutters and siding and see how rain water is moved off of the house, what you don't see is how your water deals with water below your home.

What Is A Vapor Barrier?
A vapor barrier is simply a plastic sheathing that rests on top of the soil underneath your home.  Its purpose is to stop the wet, damp soil from releasing water vapors that rise up and infect the wood underbelly of your home.  By limiting the amount of moisture that can rise into the subfloor, it also cuts down on mold and fungus from forming.

Do I Already Have One?
Probably.  If your home is a newer home, then you should have a vapor barrier that is installed to code.  However, older homes sometimes do not have one and even if they do have one, it may not be up to code.  Currently, the code is to have black (not clear) plastic that is at least 6 mil.

How Do I Get One?
There are a few different ways to go about this.  First (and I recommend this) you can call and have Healthy Homes install one for you.  But, if you are the do-it-yourself type, you can probably roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.  If you do elect to go this route, you should by almost twice as much plastic as you think you will need.  For example, if you have a 1000 square foot home, you should by about 1500 square feet of 6 mil black plastic.  There is nothing scientific to installing it, but you do want to be sure to overlap your seams by 6-12 inches.  It gets tricky around the pier posts, but just cut slits and overlap the plastic. 

If this sounds like too much work (and it really is tough, dirty work) you can give us a call.  It might not cost you as much as you might think to have one installed for you and it can save you money later on by avoiding water damage to your crawl space.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why Are Spiders So Bad This Year?

spider in Seattle Washington
At least 3 times in the last week I have had customers call and ask this question, "why are spiders so bad this year"?  Look, nobody likes spiders and it seems that they are out this year in higher numbers than in years before, so the question is "why"?  Is there something that is causing their population to increase or are we all just imagining it?

First of all, I think that I hear this every year, so I don't think the spider population is suddenly much higher this year.  However, it is a little bit higher than it has been in the past, so let's review the reasons why your home might suddenly be crawling with giant, hairy, disgusting eight legged freaks!

#1- Mild Weather Last Winter
We kind of saw this coming because of the mild winter that we just had.  Inclement weather greatly reduces the spider populations and we did not have much of it in the Puget Sound area this year.  It never really got all that cold and there wasn't much in the way of snow and ice, so spider populations carried over a bit.

#2- More Food Sources
Not only did more spiders survive our mild winter, but a lot of other insects survived as well.  This means more food for spiders and with more food, comes a higher rate of reproduction.  Remember, spiders are not all bad and they do keep other insects from getting out of control because they eat them all.

#3- Humidity
Remember how hot it was a few weeks ago?  Well, over the last few days we have seen a lot of rain and combining this with the heat creates humidity.  Insects thrive in humid climates and this only adds to my last two points.  The weather is creating an ideal environment for all pests (including spiders) and their food source has also increased.  This makes for a bad combination if you really hate spiders.

#4- Normal Seasonal Changes
As our summer winds down and it starts to cool, you can expect more spiders getting into your home to escape the cold.  October is generally the worst month for spiders (judging by the number of spider treatments we do as a pest control company throughout the month).  Usually by December there are fewer and fewer spiders and then February is the month where many of the eggs start to hatch.  So, if you are seeing a lot now, it might get worse soon.

If you want to get this under control quickly, just give me a call and I will gladly provide a pest control solution for you. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Is A Crawl Space Restoration?

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If you live in the Seattle area, you are probably aware that we have a bit of a rat problem.  Some areas have them worse than others and some home owners have them and aren't even aware of it.  This is because they are hiding out in your attic or crawl space.  Unfortunately, once they establish their home inside your home, they can do considerable damage.  This is where a crawl space restoration comes in.

In inspecting hundreds of homes in the Seattle, Washington area, I feel like I have just about seen it all, but you never really know what you are going to see when you enter a crawl space.  More often than not, this area is very neglected and in need of repairs.  The warmth of the insulation and relative seclusion of the space makes it a very desirable place for rodents and other wildlife to nest and breed, while home owners are blissfully ignorant that anything is even going on at all.  It doesn't take very long before your nice clean crawl space is contaminated with urine and droppings.


What is a crawl space restoration?

Some would argue that crawl space restorations are not entirely necessary and to that I would say, "it depends".  But, first of all, what is a crawl space restoration?  A crawl space restoration is a complete cleaning of the crawl space.  This will usually include removing all of the insulation, vapor barrier and sometimes even the duct work.  Once all of the contaminated material is removed, a high powered ULV fogger is used to decontaminate the area.  After that, new insulation, vapor barrier and anything else that was removed will be replaced.  That might sound kind of easy (it certainly isn't rocket science) but it is a grueling, dirty job.


When do I need one?

As mentioned, some people think that it is overkill to do a complete restoration and in some cases, I would agree.  Unfortunately, I have seen it abused within the industry.  There is one local pest control company that will remain nameless that has mentioned to me personally that they suggest a crawl space restoration at every home that they go to!  Now that is overkill!!  I ask my customers to consider a few facts and to make their own decision.  First, about 40% of the air that you breathe comes from underneath your home.  When your home is severely contaminated by rats, mice, raccoons or other wildlife, you can probably figure out for yourself what kind of air that you are breathing.  When contamination levels are high, there just is no other way to clean it up other than a crawl space restoration.


At what point do you consider contamination levels high?

This is merely a matter of opinion.  There is no surefire way to determine just how contaminated a space is.  For our company, we will not even suggest a crawl space restoration unless 25% or more of the insulation has urine or feces in it. 


How can I avoid needing a crawl space restoration?

The best way to avoid this costly project is always going to be prevention.  A contaminated crawl space did not end up like that overnight.  It probably took months if not years to get that way.  Having a pest control company look at your crawl space, even on yearly basis will avoid this problem in most cases.  We offer this for free (See Coupon above)

If you have any further questions on crawl space restorations or would like a second opinion, please do not hesitate to contact us.!home--healthy-homes-/mainPage

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Does Seattle Have A Rat Problem?

Rats in Seattle Washington
Believe it or not, there was once a time when you could not find rats in Seattle.  Of course back then, the city that we now call "Seattle" was not named yet.  In fact, it was not until Seattle was actually established as a port city that rats started showing up.  All of the ships that supplied goods and business and made the city thrive also brought us rats. Since then, the rodent population has been quietly getting growing and growing.

Nobody likes a rat.  They are unpleasant, disease ridden animals that infest our homes and businesses.  Yet, we do very little to stop them and many times we do things that just make it worse!  Back in 2010, the city of Seattle released its "Clean Alley" program where they replaced downtown alley dumpsters with new garbage bags.  The rodent population sure appreciated it and quickly started chewing through the new bags, bringing in all their friends.  This created a whole slew of rat problems for businesses and apartments downtown (as if it wasn't bad enough already).

This example would be an obvious reason for the spike in population, but there are plenty of more subtle examples that contribute to the growing problem we now face.  People leaving pet food outside or even a bird feeder in their backyard also draws rats.  When rats find a good food source, there reproduction increases as a result.  In the worst examples, rats will find their way into an attic or crawl space and contaminate the area causing thousands of dollars in repairs before a home owner even realizes that they are there. 


What Needs To Be Done

Warning, this is about to be a very self serving statement:  Pest control companies need to be involved.  What I mean is, if you see rats around your property, you should call a pest control company.  The products that you can purchase on your own are just not going to get the job done and professional treatments are needed.  People wait way too long to get rats treated by a professional pest control company and allow the problem to get out of hand.

If you notice rats roaming around a home that you are renting or your place of work, you should get the landlord or the business owner to call someone.  It is unhealthy to have this many rats living among us.

Again, this post is admittedly very self serving, but we do believe that rats pose a health risk and should not be ignored.  If you are dealing with rats, mice or any other rodents and needs some help, please give us a call.