While August’s sudden shift from rainy days to nice weather presents a great opportunity for backyard barbecues, picnics, and get-togethers, without appropriate maintenance, you may have a few unwanted guests crash your garden party. We do not mean to discourage summer socializing, but we believe it is important to be aware of the company you may end up keeping this season. With several cases of the West Nile Virus being reported across North America, we felt it important to highlight some simple approaches homeowners can take to minimize the presence of mosquitoes, and other seasonal pests.
To help lessen the presence of mosquitoes, and the diseases they carry, the best preventative step homeowners can take is to limit the amount of standing water on their property. As reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the majority of West Nile Virus cases are seen in August and September. Warm weather and rain combine to create an ideal environment for mosquitoes.* When water is not adequately directed away from the home, not only does it increase the potential for water damage to the basement and foundation to occur, it is also more likely that the water will collect and pool around the home, making a great breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Some simple tactics to ensure that water is going where it should include: improving the grading of your lot, and cleaning your gutters and extending your downspouts. To keep the soil outside your home dry, make sure the ground slopes away from your home, rather than towards it. It should slope down six inches for the first ten feet away from the home – this can often by achieved by adding more topsoil to the ground. Your downspouts should extend at least six feet away from your home, and the gutters that feed them should be clear of debris. When downspouts are not long enough, water is not directed far enough away from the home. If your gutters are not clean, water will not be able to pass through to the downspouts which results in stagnant water collecting in your gutters. These inexpensive tasks should help to limit the water and bugs around your home.
Birds may not seem like pests, and their nests may be viewed as cute not cumbersome, but anyone with a large feathered family living in their gutters or eavestroughs will tell you differently. Nesting birds can be aggressive, loud, and messy – parents protecting their young, babies squawking for food, and fluff and twigs everywhere. To help save yourself the trouble that these fair-weathered neighbors bring, try to diminish their nesting opportunities. Clear your gutters of debris and rake away any excess leaves, twigs, or grass. This quick maintenance will help with nests and water issues.
Warmer weather doesn’t just mean more bugs, it also means more vermin. As the numbers of raccoons and squirrels increase, homeowners will begin to experience more of a disturbance from these cuddly troublemakers. To help limit their presence on your property, it is best to focus on security. Ensure your rubbish or trash bins are closed tightly – we recommend using bungee cords to strap the lid down, or cinderblocks so the bin will be too heavy to open. Also, cap your chimney and cover any exposed entry points. These may be small cracks in the foundation, etc. Exposed entry points into the home appear inviting to rodents, who hop in and may be unable to exit. Sealing off access will aid in eliminating this issue.
Keeping these simple maintenance items in mind will help limit the amount of unwanted visitors you receive this season. Unfortunately we don’t have any tips on deterring your in-laws’ stay – yet. We’re committed to helping homeowners stay safe, comfortable and dry year round. If you have a Home Inspection related topic you’d like us to address, comment below or find us on Twitter @carsondunlop, and we’ll do our best to help out.