5 Tips to Protect Your Home From Pests

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Make sure these entry points are sealed tight to keep insects, mice and other critters away.

If you had a brick-sized hole in your house from which you could see the outdoors, you’d cover it up pretty quickly so you wouldn’t have any unwanted visitors. Add up all the crevices around windows, pipes and wires, along with the small holes under poorly attached siding or near soffits — and that brick-sized hole becomes a reality for many homes.

“Pests — bugs and vermin — are a big issue with the homeowners we see,” says Bill Britt, a national training manager for Sears Home Improvement Products. He suggests the following actions to keep critters at bay.

1. Seal your windows.

Make sure your screens fit well so bugs can’t get in. “We’ve got a cool window with an integral screen frame that stops bug infiltration,” Britt says. It even has covered weep holes, the small holes that allow for water drainage. For a quick fix, if you’ve got some loose wires on your screens, you can push them back in place with pliers. For a torn screen, try applying clear nail polish.

2. Check for gaps in your doors.

Replace rotted or damaged trim, which could provide a way for bugs to get in. (Keep in mind that damp wood might be a sign of termite damage.) Another easy entry for bugs is between the bottom of the door and the threshold. A door sweep can help cover a gap between the two. Sears has an adjustable threshold that helps to get full contact for a tight seal. Use weather stripping or a door seal kit around the frame.

3. Update your soffits.

“Walk the exterior,” Britt suggests. Look for rotted fascia boards and cracked or missing soffit panels. All of these provide a doorway for insects, mice, rats and squirrels. “You can install a maintenance-free soffit system that allows for ventilation but also protects against anything coming in,” he says.

4. Use flashing to stay dry.

Those valleys on your roof and the connections alongside your chimney are where you’ll suffer water penetration. “If you get wet wood, you’re asking for termites to come eat,” Britt says. Make sure you have the correct flashing and a sound roof and that “you keep that whole under deck dry.”

5. Install siding to block exterior crawl spaces.

“Nothing’s cuter than a bunny — until it eats your electrical wires or plumbing,” Britt says. They can easily get in when vinyl siding isn’t installed all the way to the ground. “Doing this will slow down, if not stop, critters from nesting under your home.”

Following these five tips and inspecting your house regularly for pests may prevent big problems down the road.