No-one likes an unwanted house guest. Rats, ants, cockroaches and termites can cause extensive damage to your home and make it unsanitary and dangerous.
We will investigate ways of pest-proofing your home.
Rats are resourceful, invasive, destructive and carry dangerous diseases such as Hantavirus and Streptococccus pneumoniae. They chew through electrical wiring, leave foul-smelling droppings everywhere and can create hefty repair and clean-up bills.
The most common species of rat found in Australia is the black rat (rattus rattus), an excellent climber and mostly active at night.
How To Make Your Home Rat-Proof
Rats will gnaw at gaps until they are large enough to climb through. Repair holes in your roof and seal any gaps. In exterior walls, fill small holes with steel wool, caulking or concrete.
Trim tree branches and bushes which overhang your roof to avoid rats using these as ‘rodent highway’.
Keep bins and garbage storage areas well-sealed and avoid leaving scraps of food in open areas, both inside and outside your home – you will attract rodents who are looking for a regular source of food.
Keep your garden free from debris, including bird and pet food, and don’t leave piles of newspapers, or old clothing stored in garages, sheds or under your house – this environment is attractive to rats for nesting.
Rats can swim up damaged sewer pipes around the U-bends in toilets. They will also use drainpipes and drainage outlets. Cover drains and grates, keep toilet set lids closed and repair any damage to drainpipes promptly.
Baits and traps around your home can be effective deterrents. Avoid placing them in open areas, both for the safety of other pets and wildlife, and also because rats will avoid crossing open areas to minimise the threat of predators.
Ant infestations can appear seemingly overnight and do more than just spoil a picnic – they can create a huge nuisance for your home and its occupants.
Like most living creatures, ants are looking for food, water and shelter. The best way to deter them is to avoid making your home as inhospitable as possible.
Keep Your House Clean
Keep your floors, benchtops and cupboards clean and sanitised and make sure food containers are properly sealed. Put pet food foods in bowls or trays of water to prevent ants crossing the water to get to the food, and don’t leave pet food or scraps of food outside (this is a good tip in general to prevent all pest and vermin showing up to your home for a free buffet!)
Seal gaps, fill holes and cracks in your doors and windows. If you find an ant trail, clean it with something acidic such as lemon or vinegar to break the chemical communication trail for other ants.
You can also deter ants by laying down a line of something chalky such as drawing chalk, baking powder or baby powder.
Destroy The Nest
Destroying the ant infestation at its source – the nest – is the most effective solution. Using a commercial chemical bait can work, or you can use something natural such as borax mixed with something sweet. The ants will take the solution back to the nest, killing the queen and eventually killing off the colony.
Cockroaches may elicit disgust in most people, but they are extremely resilient insects, needing only tiny amounts of food and water to survive.
As with most types of pests, they are attracted by food, water and shelter, so limiting these potential attractions will limit your risk of infestation.
Limit Access to Food and Water
Clear away crumbs and food scraps from floors, cupboards and countertops and seal food containers properly.
Make sure sinks, baths and buckets are empty as cockroaches are attracted to water. Empty and rinse cans, jars and bottles before you dispose of them, and make sure rubbish bags are properly sealed. Bins should be emptied regularly and kept clean.
Don’t leave food scraps lying around and make sure all surfaces are clean and sanitised. Cockroaches tend to be more active at night, so making sure your pet bowls, sinks are clean and empty, and bin bags properly secured before you go to bed will limit the chance of a cockroach infestation.
Keep Things Tidy and Secure
Avoid a build-up of cardboard, stored newspaper and other materials in your home – these environments provide the perfect home and hiding place for roaches.
Seal cracks and repair holes in skirting boards, under sinks, in power outlets, cabinets and walls. Use weather-proof strips around windows and under doors. Painting or varnishing wooden shelves to seal cracks and crevices will also help.
Checking and repairing the pipes and drains near your house will limit entry points for cockroaches to your home and will make it less attractive as a place to find food and nest.
Termites are a wide-spread problem in Australia and can cause extensive damage to your property if left unchecked.
The following signs may be evidence that you have a termite infestation:
- Quiet clicking sounds coming from your walls – this is sound of termites eating away at the wood
- Swarms of flying insects – these are newly hatched termites that have flown the nest and are looking to find a mate and establish a new colony
- Mud tubes – these are small tunnels made of soil or wood found close to termite nests. You will see them around the nest, wood structures and travelling up walls and foundations. The tubes protect termites from predators while they travel between their food source and nest
- Timber that sounds hollow when you tap it -termites consume the cellulose in timber from the inside out. Often there is no indication of a problem until your finger goes through a door frame or a skirting board shows signs of collapse.
- Tunnels – you are more likely to detect these in your garden in pieces of broken timber. Look for evidence that something has bored through the middle of the wood.
Take the following precautions to discourage termites from invading your home and garden:
- Don’t store timber under or close to your home
- Remove old tree stumps
- Ensure your home’s subfloor is well-ventilated and the hot water service overflow pipe is directed to a drain or at least two metres away from the house
- Your air conditioning condensate pipe should also be directed to a drain and least two metres from your house
- Check your guttering is not leaking and that mulched areas are not in contact with the house
If you spot signs of a rat, cockroach, ant or termite infestation, call in the services of a professional pest inspector to deal with the problem.
Ensure your pest inspector has the proper qualifications and works to the relevant Australian standard which is AS 4349.3-2010 Part 3: Timber Pest Inspections.
The Home Inspection Hub can organise a comprehensive building and pest inspection if you have found the perfect property and want to know exactly what you’re getting before you sign a contract or bid at auction. We partner with a professional, qualified pest inspection company – Crunch Pest Control – for our pest inspections.
We asked Teemu Carr, director of Crunch, for his advice on how to how to keep unwanted visitors from invading your home.
‘General pests such as ants, cockroaches, spiders and rodents can be a pain for some people. There are a number of things you can do to lower the risk of these pests, such as clearing spider webs away from inside and out of your home. Clearing away the webbing removes the spider’s ability to catch prey therefore disrupting their life cycle’.
‘Other methods of home pest control include keeping branches away from touching your home, clearing debris from the garden and ensuring foods are kept in sealed containers’.
‘We are generally called in when the client is no longer able to keep the problem at bay, if they have phobias or if they’ve employed another company and their treatment has failed (this happens more often than you think!)’.
‘For any pest control treatment to be successful, the most important first step is the ‘walk around’. This is a basic inspection of the site to assess type of pest, activity levels, harbourage areas and points of access. From here we put together a treatment plan based around each customer’s individual needs’.
Looking for a reputable building inspection company in Melbourne?
The Home Inspection Hub are the residential building inspection professionals. We conduct:
- Pre-purchase house inspections
- Building and pest inspections
- New home construction inspections
- Owner builder defects (137b) reports
- Special purpose and renovation inspections
- VCAT reports and expert witness
- Contract review
- Tax depreciation reports
- Building dispute reports
We work throughout Melbourne, Geelong and Central Victoria. Contact us to see how we can assist you in line with current restrictions.