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DIY home projects to deter pests

Staining your deck can help keep wood-destroying pests at bay.

If you’ve been putting off those home projects because of cold weather, your time may be up. Temperatures are warming up and it’s time for spring cleaning and home improvement. Good news – many do-it-yourself home projects can also help you deter pests, so there’s good reason to start checking things off that list.

If you are a PestFree365+ customer, your Ehrlich Pest Technician will alert you to potential pest-attracting issues or concerns during your regular service visit. But you can take action right now with these six projects that can reduce pest problems AND make your home happier.

Clean the gutters

While we know this isn’t the most fun you’ll ever have, a good gutter cleaning can prevent water from backing up into your roof or home – and gives pests fewer places to hide. Scoop out leaf accumulation, remove twigs and other debris, and be sure that water flows freely out of all downspouts.

PRECAUTIONS: If you decide to embark on this task on your own, please use safety precautions. Practice good ladder safety and wear fall protection gear, like a hard hat (which you can get at most home improvement stores for a low cost).

Seal gaps around windows and doors

Pests often come into your home through small cracks and gaps around your window and door frames. These cracks and gaps happen naturally over time as homes settle. For smaller gaps and cracks (under ½-inch), use exterior-grade caulk or sealant. Install weather stripping or door sweeps for under-door gaps.

PRECAUTIONS: It’s best to tackle this task after it’s been warm for a solid few weeks, giving overwintering pests enough time to emerge so you don’t seal them into your home.

Patch or replace screens

Before the weather warms enough to have doors and windows open, now’s the time to take stock of the condition of your screens on doors and windows. Do they have holes, rips, or are they missing altogether? Do they fit in place properly? If you answered yes to any of those questions, your screens may need to be patched or replaced.

PRECAUTIONS: Use ¼-inch mesh or smaller screening to keep insect pests out – anything larger than that may allow insects to fly, walk, or crawl right into your home.

Stain or paint your deck

Staining or painting your deck (or refreshing it) can make it a less likely target of pests such as carpenter bees. The right paint or stain may also help deter moisture, which can make these areas susceptible to termites and carpenter ants.

PRECAUTIONS: Stain doesn’t last forever, so be prepared to redo this task again in a few years if you choose that option. While a more permanent option, paint can cause water to pool in some areas, eventually leading to moisture damage. Talk to a professional at your local home improvement store about your best option.

Relocate the firewood stack

If you’ve got a fireplace, you’re probably not using it in the spring. Stacking firewood near or next to your house may be convenient, but it gives all sorts of pests a perfect place to hide out – and makes it more likely that they can invade your home. Instead, relocate the firewood stack to a further distance from your home.

PRECAUTIONS: Just in case any critters are hanging out in your firewood pile, be sure that any nearby doors and windows are firmly shut. It’s also a good idea to wear heavy-duty yard work gloves to avoid splinters.

Clean out your basement, attic, or shed/garage

Pests LOVE your basement, attic, shed and garage. These areas are often undisturbed and offer temperatures that suit pests. Cardboard boxes make great hiding and nesting places and both the boxes and their contents can offer food sources. Clear out some of the clutter and instead of cardboard boxes, use plastic tubs with lids to protect your belongings in storage.

PRECAUTIONS: Rodents, bats, and even birds can take up residence in these areas. Droppings from these pests can carry pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and spores that are harmful to humans. If you see droppings, take precautions not to aerosolize those droppings. Wet them down first with an appropriate disinfectant. Ventilate the area, and take precautions not to breathe in particles.

These are just a few of the home projects that you can undertake to protect your home and family from pests. Ehrlich’s blog is chock full of articles with more tips. Be sure to visit it regularly!

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