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Keeping Insects Out Of Your Home

There are 6 key things that home owners can do to help prevent infestations of wood destroying insects (WDI). The two most common types of WDIs are termites and carpenter ants.

1. Siding/grade contact - Ensure at least a 4” spacing between siding materials and grade. I often find siding terminating at or below grade and this makes insect entry more likely and harder for humans to detect visually. Termites and carpenter ants most often have ground nests and when siding contacts the ground directly, it provides a better avenue for directing them into the home. The two most common culprits are siding installed too close to the ground and having excessive amounts of mulch against the home. A proper empty buffer is needed between siding and grade.

2. Vegetation contact with the home or roof – Bushes and trees need to be trimmed back from the home to help prevent damage to siding and roof coverings but also, like with siding/grade contact, to prevent a direct connect between the home and grade. Carpenter ants especially can easily enter the home via bushes, overhead wires, and tree branches contacting the home well above grade. Keeping bushes trimmed back at least 12” and tree branches at least 5’ is recommended. Of course, since the vegetation will continue to grow, trimming needs to be done regularly.

3. Caulking – Ensure that all small openings and joints at the home’s exterior are kept well caulked. This includes around windows and doors, where different siding materials meet (such as masonry and vinyl), where cables/pipes enter the home above grade, and where any small cracks in the foundation exist. Also, don’t forget where the chimney meets the home. These smalls cracks are inviting to WDIs. Using a good exterior rated caulking can help keep insects out as well as water and cold air.

4. Fix plumbing and roof leaks – Carpenter ants especially can easily find wet wood in the home such as from roof and plumbing leaks. Regular inspections under sinks, in the attic, and in the basement for water leakage and prompt repair of the leak and any damaged materials, can help prevent the possibility of a WDI finding the wet wood later on.

5. Keep firewood away from the home and garage – Storing firewood in the home, basement, or garage can bring WDIs into the home since they may be nesting undetected in the wood. Keep firewood stored at least 10’ (20’ is better!) away from the home, elevated above the ground, and covered with a tarp will help prevent WDIs from getting to the wood plus it will keep the wood dry for better burning.

6. Regular inspections by a professional – Having a professional inspection performed regularly by a licensed exterminator can help prevent WDI infestations or may find them before the damage gets worse. Like most things around the home, preventive maintenance is key.

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About the Author

Matthew Steger, WIN Home Inspection
2133 Andrew Avenue
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

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