5 Home Maintenance Projects to Protect Yourself from Termites

termite control
Image courtesy of Thomas BrownCC by 2.0
Termites can cause thousands of dollars to your home in a very short period of time. Termites will steadily eat through the wood of your home all while remaining hidden. It is important to regularly have your home inspected for termites, but there are projects you can do to your home that can help protect it from termites. These steps can help you prevent the termites from coming into your home.

Check Your Ventilation to Make Sure It Is Working

Many termites prefer damp wood and so making sure that your home stays dry and the ventilation system is working properly is important. You should take time each year to make sure that all the ventilation in your attic and other areas of your home is open and unblocked. When you check this system, you should also check to make sure that each of the vents have a grate installed that will keep swarming termites and other insects out of your home.

Fix Your Crawlspace

Your crawlspace may be the perfect place for termites to enter your home. If you dread going into your crawlspace because it is hot and humid and full of mud and puddles, then you definitely need to address this with crawlspace encapsulation. The humidity in the crawlspace can allow the wood to become damp which makes it more attractive to termites. If the ground is not covered with plastic and sealed, it makes it easier for subterranean treatments to be installed. While past practices were to allow your crawlspace to vent to the exterior, most people now recommend encapsulating it and sealing it off so that the HVAC system is safer. It also makes the home in your house cleaner and safer to breath.

Check and Repair Your Roof

Loose shingles can give termites easy access to your attic where they can set up shop without ever realizing that there is a problem. Take time each year to check out your roof and to be sure that the shingles are in good condition. If you find one or two that are loose you can repair them or you may want to hire someone to do it for you. While you are up there, be sure to check around the vents to make sure that they are sealed.

Check Pipes for Leaks Periodically

Leaky pipes allow moisture to weaken the wood in your home. The damp wood is the food that termites prefer to feed on. You should periodically check the pipes in your home to make sure that you do not have any leaks. If you do find a leak or if your home has a flood, you will need to make sure that the wood dries out completely as quickly as possible. You can set up fans throughout the room to aid with it. You should check the wood once it is dry to make sure it is still strong and that it does not need to be replaced.

Close Holes into Your Home

Take time to check around your foundation, and any areas where a pipe or wiring enters your home to be sure that they are sealed off completely. Termites can enter through any small opening and explore your home looking for a meal, making sure these areas are sealed will protect your home from termites and other insects. It can also help with the energy efficiency of your home.

5 Commonly Asked Questions About Termites

termite controlTermites are a large problem throughout the world. While they perform a necessary part in breaking down the dead wood that may be underground or around a forest and turning it into soil, they can also do significant damage to your home in a relatively short period of time. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions.

Can Termites Hurt People?

Termites will feed on wood. They avoid light and will spend their time underground. Termites focus the most on their colonies and their roles within it. The solider termites that are designed to protect the colony may bite you if you are hassling them in some way, but it is not a very common occurrence. For the most part, termites will leave you alone as they just want to remain undetected as they feed on your home.

Can I Treat Termites on My Own?

While you may be able to find methods of treatment throughout the internet that suggest using vinegar soaked cardboard or other methods, it really is best to turn to the professionals for treatments. This is because of the extensive damage that termites can cause to your home and make it unsafe for you and your family. However, you can focus on preventing termites in your yard and around your home by clearing out dead wood on your property and keeping the trees and bushes from touching your home. You can also avoid using mulch around your property.

Do Termites Fly?

Termites will fly when they swarm. This happens when some of the termites leave to establish a new colony. Generally, termites will swarm in the spring. If you see flying termites around your property or in your home, you likely have an established colony on your property. If you see piles of discarded wings, you likely have a newly established colony. Either way you should schedule a termite inspection to make sure that you do not have an issue in the future.

Do I Really Need a Termite Inspection?

You should schedule an annual termite inspection or set up a termite monitoring system around your property. This allows you to catch termite activity before it become s too serious. The inspector will look at common areas where termites first start to attract your home, like your attic, crawlspace or basement. The inspectors are trained to look below the surface and to catch any activity so that you can begin treatment. You can watch for signs of termites like mud tubes, damaged wood around your property or in your home or discarded wings as well.

How Much Damage Do Termites Really Do to Your Home?

One termite colony can eat through your entire home in just two years. While this may seem like a slow process, it is important to realize that the damages that make your home unsafe like weakened floor joists, can actually happen much more quickly. Another thing to consider is that many people find that they have more than one colony on their property. Termites can damage the floor joists, floor boards, supporting beams and any area that is wood. Dampwood termites will eat the protective casings around electrical wires and can create a serious fire hazard. This damage can affect your property value until it is addressed and repaired.

How Can I Stop Rodents from Getting in My Home?

rodent control
Image courtesy of Earth’sbuddy CC by-SA 3.0
Rodents can quickly damage your home and they spread a number of serious illnesses including hantavirus. It is very stressful to realize that you have rodents in your home leaving trails of droppings and urine as they scamper through your kitchen in search of food. They are expert climbers and can get into almost any space. It is important to take steps to prevent rodents from getting in your home.

Check for Holes Around Your Foundation

Periodically check your home for places where rodents can find their way into your home. If you see signs of holes or chewing, you should take the steps necessary to fix the holes. This could mean replacing wood or it could mean installing pest exclusion barriers in those spaces. If you have damage from other pests like termites, rodents will take advantage of these weaknesses to work their way into your home, so you should make those repairs correctly.

Look in Your Attic and Under Your Eaves

Another area that rodents will get into your home is through your roof or under your eaves. They can walk across electrical wires or climb on trees and drop onto your roof. You should check your roof for loose shingles or areas that the rodents can easily get in and make the necessary repairs. Check under the eaves too. Be sure that grates are installed over each the vents to keep rodents out.

Trim Back Tree Branches

Tree branches that hang over your home or brush up against the side of your home can provide another access point for rodents to get into your home. Trimming back any bushes or trees will provide the extra protection against rodents and other insects.

Check Areas Where Pipes Enter Your Home

Rodents will come in through any area where there is a space or weakened wood. The areas around the pipes can be weakened if there is a leak in the area. You can install exclusion barriers or replace wood that is weak or rotting to keep rodents out of your home.

Keep Your Home Clean

Rodents are attracted by strong smells, and they can more easily set up house in a home that is cluttered and not as clean. Cutting down on the clutter and taking out the trash each night can reduce the chances of getting rodents. Be sure to do your dishes each night and to store all your food in airtight containers. These steps can cut back on the smells in your home and make your home less attractive to rodents.

5 Ways to Prevent a Cockroach Infestation

Image courtesy of Junkyardsparkle CCO
Cockroaches are an issue that can be difficult to deal with. Roaches spread illnesses as they crawl over your dishes and through your food. They can also trigger people who have allergies and asthma. Cockroaches can be difficult to eliminate and it is best to avoid an infestation if possible. Here are five steps you can take to avoid getting cockroaches.

1. Check Packages and Boxes You Bring Into Your Home

Cockroaches can catch a ride into your home through the packages that you bring in from the grocery store or order from the warehouse. You may inadvertently bring some home from work or school in your backpack if you are working in a place that has a serious cockroach infestation. When you receive a package, open it immediately. Do not let it sit in your home, because this gives cockroaches a chance to escape. Take the box outside to the recycling immediately. Check your grocery bags and other bags when you get home and immediately empty them. If you know that there is a roach issue where you are working consider leaving your bag or purse at home.

2. Seal Off Outside Entrances for Cockroaches

Cockroaches will crawl in through the cracks around your windows or doorframes. Caulking the cracks around the windows and adding weather stripping to your door can prevent a number of cockroaches from getting in. In addition, check to make sure that the vents in your attic or home have exclusion barriers that are designed to let air in but keep insects like roaches and termites out. Look at any area where a pipe enters your home. Be sure that the wood around it is in good condition and that there are not cracks or holes that cockroaches can crawl through.

3. Trim Back Overhanging Trees and Bushes

Cockroaches can crawl up trees or bushes and drop onto your roof. There they may find weaknesses in your roof or the vents that lead into your kitchen or bathroom and make their way inside of your home. Trimming back overhanging limbs will help prevent cockroaches and other pests (like mice) from finding a way inside your home. This can make a big difference without too much effort.

4. Protect Your Walls and Home

If you live in an apartment, townhome or condo, you may be facing a bigger battle when it comes to preventing cockroaches. They will move through your shared wall space and can invade your home even if you keep it as clean as possible. There are a few things you can do to protect your home.
  • Be sure that the electrical covers are installed over all of the outlets.
  • Install childproof plugs in each outlet.
  • Repair any holes in the walls that will allow roaches to move into your home.
  • Seal up cracks between the walls and your cupboards to seal areas where roaches nest.
  • Keep your bathtub drains closed when you are not using it.

5. Keep Your Home Clean

Keeping your home clean will make a big difference in the number of cockroaches in your home. If you do not provide them with food or water or a place to nest then they will not stay. Cockroaches like clutter. If you can clear off your counters and bookshelves, you will help to reduce the number of places for cockroaches to hide. Doing your dishes as soon as you eat and taking out your trash every evening can also help reduce the chances of having cockroaches. Be sure to only eat in the kitchen.

What Are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are different from common or household ants. However, they are one of the most common types of ants in Virginia. It is important to be able to identify carpenter ants because they can do serious damage to your home. If you notice them around your home, you will need to exterminate them right away.

Where Do Carpenter Ants Build Their Colonies?

Carpenter ants will build their colonies in dead wood. They do not eat the wood like termites do, but they will chew it to create tunnels to live in. Since they do not eat the wood, you may see piles of sawdust in your home or around your yard. This is a sign that you may have carpenter ants. Carpenter ants like to build inside the wood of your home, which is how they were named.

How Do I Identify Carpenter Ants?

People can confuse carpenter ants with termites or household ants. Carpenter ants are larger than household ants. The grow up to ½ an inch in size. Carpenter ants are black. Termites look different from ants because their body is uniform in width without having the narrow waists that ants have. Carpenter ants can have wings. Only the queen and the reproductive males will have wings, and you may see them when they are looking to establish a new colony.

How Can I Check If My Home Has Carpenter Ants?

If you notice hollow sounding wood, you can knock on it. If there are carpenter ants, they will stream out of the wood. You may also notice them along the edges of your carpet or your baseboards. You may also see the ants in your window sill. You may find them when you pull up the carpenter of if you see the small piles of sawdust around your home.

What Do I Do If Find Carpenter Ants?

When you spot carpenter ants, you need to call an exterminator right away. They will continue to cause damage in your home until you treat for them. The longer you wait, the more extensive and expensive the damage will be. An exterminator can also inspect other areas of your home to make sure that you do not have any other issues with wood boring insects that can damage your home and give you an expected treatment plan. Once you have treated for the carpenter ants, you will need to make repairs so that your home is structurally sound. Other pests can find their way inside your home through the damage that they have caused.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Bed Bugs in Fairfax County

bed bugs FairfaxWith recent reports in the news of bed bugs in public buildings, like schools, in the greater D.C. area, you may be wondering what you can do to protect your family and your home from bed bugs. While bed bugs were nearly eradicated in the 1960s, they have made a huge comeback in recent years. The bed bugs themselves do not spread disease, but they can cause other problems including allergic reactions. Add that to the fact that they are hard to treat and exterminate, and you can understand why it is important to avoid getting them completely.

1. Check Before Any Hotel Stay

One of the best ways to protect yourself from getting bed bugs is to complete a throughout check of your hotel room before you stay the night. You should check the bedding to make sure it is free from stains and droppings. Bed bug droppings are small, but will smear a rust color stain if touched. Look behind the headboard to make sure you do not see signs of droppings or the bugs themselves. If your room looks clean, then you should still be careful with your luggage. Never place it directly on the bed or on the floor. Use the luggage rack that is provided in the room.

2. Check Your Luggage Before You Take It Inside

Bed bugs can crawl from one location to another. Be sure to check your luggage for signs of bugs before you leave the hotel room. You should also look for bed bugs again before you take your luggage inside of your home. You can purchase a special suitcase heater that will treat the luggage for bed bugs by heating it up. This can work as an extra precaution after any trips

3. Be Careful with Purse, Briefcase and Backpack

Many bed bugs are being spread in public buildings like schools or municipal buildings. Bed bugs do not travel around on people, but they will crawl into someone’s bag, and then out of it again looking for a new place to call home.  Students can bring bed bugs to school in a backpack, and then they will wander out and infest the school or wander into another student’s backpack, especially if the backpacks are stored close together. When you are in a public place try to keep your bag or purse off the floor to reduce the chances of picking up bed bugs. If there are issues at your child’s school, then you may want to stop sending your child with a backpack until the situation is addressed.

4. Rethink Your Gym Bag

Gyms are another common area to pick up bed bugs without realizing it. Often a person will not realize that they may be spreading bed bugs when they take their bag to the gym. The bed bugs can get out and wander around the locker room looking for a new place to hide. If they wander into your gym bag, then you may end up taking the bugs home with you. If possible, you may want to consider changing and showering at home. If this is not feasible with your schedule, be sure to check your bag carefully for bed bugs before putting it in your car or taking it home.If you think your home might be infested with bed bugs, contact EcoTek today for a free inspection and estimate for affordable bed bug control.

How to Get Rid of Fleas with Salt

If your house or pets are suffering from a flea infestation, you may need some help. Flea bites will not only result in terrible itching and pain, but for those with allergies, skin inflammation is inevitable. Fleas are known to be carriers of several serious diseases, such as typhus, tapeworm, and even plague. This is a cause for great concern if fleas are in your home. There are a number of ways to effectively get rid of fleas. However, natural, non-toxic methods are often preferable to chemical treatments. Salt is both a budget-friendly and effective solution to your flea problem. If you still have some doubts about salt as a flea-eradicator, keep reading!

How Salt Kills Fleas

Fleas flourish in moist places, while salt possesses the ability to eliminate moisture. When fleas come into contact with salt, the outer layer of their bodies becomes dry and vulnerable. A treatment of salt powder or a mixture of salt and borax is prescribed for killing these pesky fleas. Salt can be used both indoors and outdoors to treat fleas on pets and carpets.

Directions for Use

Grind the salt into a fine powder and sprinkle it on the flea-infested carpet. The fine salt will penetrate deeply into the carpet fibers and kill fleas. You should leave the salt on your carpet for about 24 hours before vacuuming thoroughly. Salt left out for longer than two days might make your carpet dirty. Sprinkle salt by your doorways, so that fleas cannot escape to other rooms or outside while the salt is working its magic. Flea eggs or larvae may not die instantly, but vacuuming will clear them away. Seal the vacuum bag tightly and have it disposed of as soon as you have finished vacuuming. This will prevent eggs and larvae from developing into fleas inside the bag and invading your house.With regards to pets, a warm salt bath will help to remove the parasites from their bodies. The formula should consist of 1 part of salt mixed with 10 parts of water. Before you bathe your pet in the salt water, you should ensure that the pet has no open wounds. This will prevent unnecessary discomfort. Your pet’s eyes and ears should be shielded from salt water. If your pet is heavily infested, rub salt onto its fur and wait about two hours before rinsing with clean water. You may have to repeat this salt treatment several times to remove all the fleas from your pet’s body.

To sum up

Salt can also be used to kill fleas outside, although this is a less effective method of treatment. Salt treatments certainly stood out when the various methods to kill fleas were explored. Salt is both a non-toxic and budget friendly option. The only things that you need to get the job done are a few cents and a bit of patience!

Little Known Facts about Termites

Termite Facts

Share this Infographic On Your Site

Simply copy and paste the code below to your web page to share:Most homeowners don’t realize their home is infested with termites until it’s too late and there’s thousands of dollars of damage done. EcoTek can not only perform a comprehensive termite control treatment on your home or business, but they also provide expert termite damage repair services.

What Steps Can I Take to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

bed bug extermination
Image courtesy of Gilles San Martin via flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)
Bed bugs can be difficult to deal with because the treatments for them work best when applied directly to the bugs, and they are excellent hiders. They will hide in cracks that you may barely notice. It takes a professional who has been trained in bed bug detection to be able to identify all the places that they may hide.

Call a Professional

The first step in treating for bed bugs is to call a bed bug exterminator who can complete the chemical treatment for you. This is important because you need to kill all stages of the bed bugs in order to end an infestation, and a professional will be able to do that effectively.

Wash Your Bedding

Take your bedding to a laundromat to wash. It is important to double bag the bedding. This will prevent the bed bugs from hiding in your car as you take bedding there. Throw the bag away when you get to the laundry mat, as it may now contain bed bugs. You may want to seal these bags in an airtight container to avoid passing the bed bugs onto someone else. Be sure to wash and dry the bedding on high heat.

Address Your Mattress and Box Spring

The first step is to vacuum your mattress and box spring. While you may be tempted to throw your bed away, you can take some simple steps to stop bed bugs from being a problem. Buy a cover for both your mattress and box spring that will trap any bed bugs that may be in your box-spring or mattress that the vacuum misses inside. They will not be able to survive. Additionally, it can serve as a protection to stop it from happening in the future.

Move Your Bed Away from the Wall

While you are working on clearing up the bed bugs, you do not want to worry about new bed bugs finding their way into your bed and onto you. You can move the bed frame away from the wall. You can treat the headboard with insecticide. You can also put the legs of your bed into bed bug traps that are designed to catch any bed bugs that may be trying to climb off the floor onto your bed. Since bed bugs cannot fly, these measures can help while you prepare for the extermination treatment.Image courtesy of Gilles San Martin via flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)

How Can I Keep Ants Out of My Kitchen?

household antsNo matter whether you have carpenter ants or common household ants, ants are persistent insects. They will send scouts into your kitchen in search of food and water. If they find what they are looking for, then you may start to see a steady stream of ants coming into your kitchen. There are steps that you can take to stop ants from becoming a problem before they start to come in.

1. Treat the Exterior of Your Home

Treating the exterior of your home with an inspect spray can stop the ants from coming in through cracks around your door or through your foundation and up into your home. Usually the treatment will need to be applied a few times a year. Since it is outside, you do not need to worry about it affecting your family.

2. Seal up Cracks

Check your window frames for any cracks. Consider adding caulking around the edges of your windows and seal any cracks that you see. There is stripping that you can add to the bottom of the door if it is not fitting tightly which can also deter ants from getting in.

3. Fix Any Leaks

Ants will come in looking for water, and if you have any leaking pipes, this will soon become a steady source for them. Check your pipes periodically to make sure they are not leaking under the sink or in other areas where you may not notice them. Be sure that the area is thoroughly dried after you make the repair.

4. Do Your Dishes

Ants will eat food that is left on the counter on dirty dishes or even what is left on the sink. As soon as you are done eating, take the time to do the dishes and wipe down the counters and tables. Sweeping right after will clean up any crumbs and deter ants from coming in looking for food. Be sure that dirty dishes are not left in other rooms of the home and try to keep all of the food in the kitchen.

5. Take Out the Trash

The final step is to take out your trash each night, especially trash in your kitchen or that has food in it. This will stop the ants from finding it or looking to it as a steady source of food. It takes just a few minutes to empty the trash and it is much easier than trying to kill an established colony.Sometimes no matter what you do you just can’t get rid of the ants in your home, and that’s when you should call the ant control experts at EcoTek to eliminate the ants in your home forever!