California insects

Which California Insects Are Most Likely to Bug You This Summer?

Along with the hordes of tourists and the Pacific coast breezes come the summer insects to the Bay Area. You can find these pests crawling up buildings, walking down the sidewalk, or marching around your kitchen.

These creepy crawlies live in your yard, gardens, up in your trees and inside your home. So, what can you do about California insects that could damage your foliage and the structure of your home?

Read more to find out which common insects live in the Bay Area. Once you know how to recognize these pests, you can decide how to get rid of them.

Ants

Ants invade your home during summer droughts looking for a cool habitat. This usually happens during August and September. Four of the most common Bay Area ants include:

Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile)

These ants are a real problem for homeowners. They’re an aggressive species that don’t have natural enemies. They’ve wiped out many native ants and invade homes all the time.

Unlike other ants, Argentine ants have several queens so it’s hard to kill the colonies.

Black Carpenter Ants (Camponotus quercicola)

These large ants can be black, light brown, rust, of red and black. They love building nests in tunnels they carve into the damp wood of your home.

This causes structural damage to your house. They’re most active from late afternoon through the night.

Thief Ants (Solenopsis molesta)

As you can see from their name, these ants steal the food and larvae from other ant nests. They’re also called grease ants because they feast on grease, dead bugs and even dead rodents.

They’re tiny insects, which lets them get into your packaged foods. If you check behind your baseboards or in empty cabinet spaces, you might see their nests. They also live under rocks and in old wood.

Odorous House Ants (Tapinoma sessile)

If you ever squashed one of these ants, you know why they’re named odorous house ants. The odor they give off smells like rotten coconuts.

These tiny ants invade your home after heavy rains. They march in lines and if you disturb them, they release their odor.

It’s hard to get rid of them because they move their nests every few weeks. If they’re inside your house, they nest in your insulation, window frames and walls.

They love sweets, especially fruit juice, cakes, cookies and pastries.

Bees and Wasps

The Bay Area has about 90 different bee species. The following list names the bees and wasps that torment you on summer days.

Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

The most common bee is the Honey Bee. They prefer to nest in hollow tree trunks, but they will also nest in empty wall space.

They also mind their own business unless you bother them. Honeybees only sting as a last resort and won’t chase you. They can only sting once and then they die.

California Yellow Jacket (Vespula sulphurea)

When you’re enjoying an outdoor picnic, yellow jackets might scare you off and start munching on your goodies. Most likely, your first thought is that they’re bees. But, yellow jackets are actually wasps.

In the spring, they eat insects so they can give protein to growing larvae from their colonies. As the summer progresses, they change their diet to include sugars.

This is why you see them around garbage cans and outdoor food sources, like your picnic. If you have a nest of yellow jackets in your yard, it can be a real problem.

One colony can have thousands of wasps that defend their nests aggressively. They’re quick to respond and will attack you and chase you for a long time. If they catch you, they can sting multiple times because their stinger is barbless.

Even sounds can trigger them to attack. For example, the vibration from a lawnmower or hedge clippers will make them attack you.

Mosquitoes

The San Francisco Bay Area is famous for its rainy winters. The problem is when it heats up in the summer, the annoying mosquitoes hatch and breed in leftover stagnant water. Sometimes, there are so many mosquitoes, it’s impossible to stay outside.

Northern House Mosquito (Culex pipiens)

These mosquitoes are very active from May to November. They breed in rainwater that collects in your gutters, outdoor containers, puddles and any other water source. Some mosquitoes can breed in only a capful of water.

Thousands of mosquitoes can hatch in stagnant water. Once hatched, they travel up to two miles looking for a bloody feast. They’re attracted to body heat, body odor and breathing.

These nasty summer insects carry diseases from infected animals to humans. If you go out at dusk or at night, try to wear long sleeve shirts and long pants to protect yourself from bites and disease.

Fleas

Even if you don’t have a pet, you can still have a flea infestation in your home. The heat of summer is the prime time for fleas to breed.

They can enter your home on rodents living in your attic or in your walls, such as rats, mice and squirrels.

Fleas carry diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tapeworms and bacterial infections. They breed quickly, and their tough skin makes them hard to eliminate.

Many times, you won’t know fleas live in your house until you go away for a few days. When you come home, you open the door and all of a sudden, your legs are covered in fleas.

They breed in hot, closed up areas. When their eggs hatch, the tiny worms hide in your carpet fibers, couch cushions and mattresses. It can take up to four weeks for the pupae to hatch into a flea.

House and Yard California Insects

The Bay Area attracts many species of California insects from attractive butterflies and dragonflies to destructive household pests. Knowing how to recognize them can help you keep these common insects under control.

Contact us for more information on how to keep your home free from California pests.

household pests

House of Horrors: The Top 10 Household Pests That Can Wreak Havoc in Your Life

Which household pests are notorious for torturing home dwellers? Click here to find out the top 10 household pests that are known for wreaking havoc!

1. Rats and Mice Are Some of the Worst Household Pests

Having an infestation of rats or mice in your home can be some of the most damaging pests in the house and poor for your health. If you get rats or mice inside your house they will make themselves at home and explore your kitchen looking for food all the while leaving urine droplets and feces everywhere. These pests can produce 25,000 to 36,000 droppings per year, and these droppings can contain bacteria and viruses, such as salmonella, spreading it all over your kitchen. 

In addition to the health concerns, rats and mice also are known for ruining the structural integrity of your home by chewing through wiring, damaging and contaminating your insulation, and making holes to come and go from the outside. These critters will also nest and breed at alarming rates making the problem worse with time. 

2. Termites

Termites can cause extensive structural damage to your home. These pests feed on wood all hours of the day which means if you have an infestation, you are soon to have a major problem. Termites will also feast on paper, books, and insulation, they have also been known to do damage to swimming pool liners and water filtration systems. If they are in your home, they are likely also living in the trees, shrubs, and bushes that surround your property. 

Termites can be very difficult to get rid of and are best handled by a professional who is well versed in what is needed to treat and prevent further damage to your home. 

3. Ants 

Ants can be quite a nuisance to the homeowner, while they are not structurally damaging these pests are frustrating to find inside your home. If you find a trail of black ants heading somewhere, follow their path and see if you can figure out where they are going and where they came from. Black ants will have the main colony where the queen dwells, the worker ants head out and find food to bring back to the queen. While they are exploring they will leave a chemical trail for their fellows to follow to the food and back. 

In order to get rid of these pests in the house, place an ant bait along the trail so that the ants bring the poison back to the colony and kill the queen. Be sure to leave the bait there for an extended time because it may take longer than expected to kill the queen, especially if there is more than one. Of course, there is a chance that the colony is inside the walls of your home, or there may be more than one. Seek out the opinion of a professional if your attempts haven’t eradicated these common pests.   

4. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs had been absent from the United States and were only really known from the common nighttime phrase “good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Unfortunately, after some 50 years of being absent, they have been reintroduced from foreign travel and immigration. Now, these pests who like to infest bedding, mattresses, clothing, and soft furniture are on the rise and feed on the blood of people and pets. 

5. Cockroaches

These pests that live in your house are both disgusting and unhealthy. They are known to shed their skin and leave their feces which can contain allergens and pathogens.

People who live with an infestation may suffer from allergies and asthma due to inhaling their leavings.  

6. Fleas

Fleas are a small biting pest that lives outside and is often brought into your home either on your clothing or your pets. These pests in the house can quickly become out of control by getting into a cycle of laying eggs at an alarming rate and taking over your carpets, bedding, pets, and even yourselves.

These annoying pests are luckily easy to get rid of, but you have to keep up with treating your pets and your carpets routinely. 

7. Bees

If a bee colony claims your home as theirs, it can quickly become an expensive problem. Within just a few days of arriving, roughly 30,000 bees can quickly take over, creating a sizable hive full of wax, honey, and propolis.

The colony must be expertly handled and removed and not killed off with insecticide as this hive will begin to ferment and leak honey and wax, attracting other insects, and rodents. 

8. Wasps

Wasps can be a scary pest to have around your house because they are often times territorial and aggressive. Typically they like to nest up under a covered awning or roof and will continue to grow the size of the nest and laying eggs. The wasps will protect their nests from danger by stinging anyone who comes in the area. This is particularly a problem if they make their home near the entrance to your home, your garage, or patios.

The stings from a wasp are very painful and some may experience an allergic reaction to it. 

9. Flies

Having a fly problem is harmful to your health. Flies are known to carry and transmit diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, and other diseases related to food poisonings such as salmonella or E. coli. 

If you have a small fly problem, it can quickly become a much bigger problem as the eggs can mature to adulthood in just a week. 

10. Spiders

Spiders are useful in eating and controlling other common pests, but nobody wants to see them in their homes. These pests are often feared and evoke more damage psychologically then they do physically, however some species are poisonous if they bite. 

Spider webs are also a nuisance to deal with and are an unsightly feature inside your home.  

Do You Need Help Getting Rid of Pests in the House?

If you are experiencing trouble with one of these household pests and need some professional help to remove them, please visit our website and contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

 

how to remove blown in insulation

How to Remove Blown in Insulation from Your Attic in 8 Easy Steps

How old is the insulation in your attic?

Insulation plays a key role in keeping your home or commercial property running as efficiently as possible. 

If your space isn’t heating as well as it once did, it’s time to replace your insulation.
Yet, it’s not as simple as it sounds. 

Read on to learn more about how to remove blown in insulation and why you might want to let a professional do the job.

Why Remove Blown-In Insulation?

You’ve noticed that your insulation isn’t doing its job anymore and realize it’s time for a change. 

Why can’t you add to the insulation that’s already there?

Common reasons for replacing insulation are mold issues, wildlife damage, and the decision to finish an attic space.

Animals such as mice, raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and more can invade your attic and tear up your insulation. Their feces and urine will reduce your air quality and they could contaminate your insulation with mites, fleas, and ticks.

If your attic has suffered water damage from a burst pipe or a roof leak, mold will start growing fast. As blown in insulation sits tight up against wet wood and drywall it creates the perfect environment for mold growth.

How to Remove Blown-In Insulation

So, you’ve decided to tackle the project of removing your old insulation. Where do you start?

Inspect the Insulation

There are several different types of insulation, so you should first identify the type you have in your attic.

Blown in insulation is often made up of small particles of foam or fiber, but it is also made of other materials. These particles are so small that they can be sprayed and conform to any space, creating a tight seal.

Blown in insulation is popular in spaces where it would be difficult to install insulation using other methods.

If your structure is older, it may contain asbestos insulation. There are test kits available to test for asbestos. If you are unsure if asbestos is present, you should hire a professional.

Gather the Right Equipment

Gather your equipment and get organized before removing any insulation.

You should have protective gear for yourself, including gloves, goggles, long sleeves, pants, and a respirator. You do not want old insulation to get inside of your lungs.

To dispose of old insulation, you will need plenty of garbage bags. You’ll also need a tarp to place underneath the bags as you fill them.

Finally, set your ladder in place and have your wet/dry or HEPA vacuum handy.

Protect Your Space

Ensure that all doors and openings that lead to your living or work space are closed. You do not want contaminants traveling through the air and settling where they can be ingested by you or other people.

Create Your Workspace

Since blown in insulation is usually found in older structures, the floor is not always a safe place. 

If necessary, reinforce the floor with wooden planks across the floor joists. This will give you a safe and steady area to walk on.

Set Up Tarp and Trashbags

You’ll want to set up your disposal area first so that you aren’t struggling when your arms are full of old insulation. It is imperative that all old insulation be disposed of quickly and neatly to reduce the number of contaminants in the air.

Put your tarp outside on the ground, wherever you want your garage bags to end up. You’ll want to keep the bags on the tarp as you fill them.

Put on Safety Gear

It is time to make use of the safety equipment you gathered at the beginning of your project. 

You will want to wear the safety gear at all times to protect your eyes, ears, and lungs from irritation. 

If fiberglass touches your skin, it may create a sharp, stinging sensation. You will have the urge to rub it. Don’t. It will only make it worse, driving the particles deeper into your skin. Rinse your skin off with water and it will eventually go away.

Vacuum Insulation

Now, you can actually begin to vacuum out the insulation. You’ll want to work quickly and work your way backward from the back of the attic.

If you’re using your own vacuum, keep an eye on it to make sure you are emptying it often enough. You will put that respirator to the test.

Clean Up

It depends on the size of your space, but there could potentially be hundreds of trash bags to pick up.

So, what are you supposed to do with it?

How to Dispose of Old Insulation

As you’re filling the garbage bags, squeeze them to let out any excess air before tying them. For peace of mind, you can place each bag into a second one to create a better seal.

Next, you’ll have to do some research.

Disposal and recycling procedures vary by area. Call your local waste-management office and ask what to do with the insulation of your type.

In some cases, you can place the bags out with your regular trash. In others, you will have to take it to a designated area at the dump.

If there is a fiberglass insulation manufacturer nearby, you can also call and ask if they have a recycling program. 

Get Help

With better insulation, you will experience fewer insects and less pollen and dirt in your space.

You’ll benefit from lower utility bills, as heat and cool air will no longer be able to leak out of your poorly insulated attic.

Most importantly, you will protect yourself and others from the harmful contaminants found in the old insulation. 

If you’re questioning how to remove blown in insulation, you will discover that it’s a dirty job.

Contact our staff today to discuss our insulation replacement services and request a free estimate.

unfinished attic

Is Your Unfinished Attic Safe? 10 Ways to Test it Out

When it comes to home improvement, 70% of Americans prefer to do the work themselves.

With all the home renovation websites and television series out there, it’s no wonder the DIY approach is the preferred method of choice. But some DIY projects, such as an unfinished attic, require a little more precaution than others.

If you’re renovating your home and need to access your attic, there are certain safety precautions you need to consider. Before you head up there, you should know everything from what safety gear to wear to how to walk in the attic without falling through.

But there’s more to know than that. In this guide, we’ll explore the top 10 tips you need to keep in mind.

How To Test An Unfinished Attic

The number of safety hazards in an attic are plenty. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, these hazards include:

  • Poor ventilation and fine particulate dust that affects breathing 
  • Low-clearance rafters that affect the safety of your head
  • Exposed insulation
  • Asbestos insulation
  • Mechanical hazards including whole house fans and attic ventilators
  • Slip, trip, and fall hazards (i.e. wiring)
  • Electrical hazards including wiring and electrical boxes
  • Pest-related hazards such as animal nests with urine and feces
  • Heat stress

To avoid these potential hazards, you need to know how to get around in your attic while keeping yourself protected. But you also need to perform some regular maintenance that ensures its ongoing safety. In these 10 tips, we’ll share a little bit of both. 

Check the stairs

If you have stairs leading up to your attic, especially the pull-down type, you’ll want to check them before use. These stairs are often the last thought in terms of home maintenance, and you can’t always trust their structural integrity. 

Check if there’s a floor

There’s a big difference between an actual floor and the ceiling of the room below your attic. Stepping on drywall or plaster that makes up the roof below could at best cause damage and at worst cause a serious fall to the floor below.

A floor that you can walk on will have floorboards and floor joists. If you’re not sure, it’s best to call a professional before putting any weight on it. Even storing boxes up there could cause costly damage.

If there is no floor, be careful on the joists

If you don’t have a floor, you’ll have to walk on the joists. When doing so, be careful not to place all your weight on one joist. Not only is this a fall hazard, but it can also cause the joist to bow and crack the drywall below.

This also means you don’t want to sit, stand, or kneel on one joist for too long. So when you need to work in your attic for a long period of time, bring a piece of plywood to better distribute your weight across the rafters. Something thicker than 1/4″ can be placed across two ceiling joists so you stay comfortable and safe.

Protective clothing and gear

A huge part of any kind of DIY project is safety clothing and gear. Your attic is no different.

Be sure that you’re protecting your skin from insulation and dust. Wear long sleeves and pants and don’t leave your skin exposed.

While a hard hat might actually get in your way in an attack, you can protect your head from dust and insulation with a knitted cap or a hooded sweatshirt. You should also opt for treaded sneakers over large, clunky boots.

And of course, you’ll want to protect your respiratory system from any fine particulates that make it difficult to breathe. For this, you’ll need an N95 mask.

Stay clean and organized

To minimize the number of times you have to move around or go up and down from the attic, plan out what tools you’re going to need before heading up. Place them in a toolbelt so they’re organized and don’t present a tripping hazard.

You should also keep your workspace and the attic clean. As you’re moving around, you might knock dust and insulation loose. Spread a sheet under the stairs to catch those particulates.

But cleanliness is also an annual job. You have to regularly maintain your attic vents and fans to ensure that your unfinished attic is safe.

The soffit vents are there for ventilating your attic space and maintaining steady air flow. You can clean these from below using an air compressor. At the same time, clean your attic fan blades.

Work with light

An important part of working safely is proper lighting. When using a work light, make sure that the cord is well out of where you’re walking to avoid tripping. You should also bring a flashlight for extra lighting in hard-to-see corners.

And while it may be tempting to use the light of day to work in an unfinished attic, remember that attics can get dangerously hot during the day. And your long sleeves and pants won’t help with that matter. To avoid heat stress, check the weather forecast before picking your day of work and start work early in the day.

Be careful how you walk

When walking around on joists, spread your weight out. Only put one foot on one joist at a time. Then, have two other points of contact to keep your balance, even if it’s a rafter above your head.

You should also minimize any other tripping hazards such as loose cables and wires, low hanging beams, exposed nails, and building scraps.

Check the insulation

Insulation from the 1970s or 1980s may be hazardous to your health. In these decades, they used vermiculite insulation. This stuff is well-known for containing asbestos.

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and can also cause a lung disease called asbestosis. If you see warning signs such as mold, blackened spots, or disintegrating areas, call a professional for removal right away.

Wiring

Unless you’re an experienced electrician, an inspection of your wiring should be left to the professionals. They can replace any damaged wire that might cause fire hazards in an unfinished attic—especially when close to insulation.

Look for signs of pests

Attics are a favorite nesting spot for wasps and bees. But small animals like raccoons can also get int your attic and make it home.

If you see any signs of pests in your attic, call an exterminator to rid of the problem before beginning any work.

More Attic Work And Safety

An unfinished attic is a hotspot for accidents. Knowing how to walk around, what to check for, and how to maintain it is key to staying safe while you’re working up there.

But jobs such as electrical work, insulation removal, and pest control, even the most experienced DIYer should leave to the professionals. For a full list of how we can help, check out our list of services.

pests in attic

Pests in the Attic: How They Get There, and What to Do About It

Have you been hearing a scurry across your ceiling lately? Thinking your house might be haunted?

It’s worse…sounds like you might have pests in the attic!

While supernatural hauntings might seem terrifying, they can easily be placated with a little holy spirit. Living monsters like rodents and other pests, though…those are the real horrors that hide in the dark.

You better act fast to get those pests removed from the attic before they take over the whole house!

Read on to find out all you need to know about rodent control and pest removal.

What Are Pests?

Pests are a nuisance in any house.

They’re small, invasive, and multiplying rapidly. These are the common pests you might find making a home in your attic, uninvited.

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Bats
  • Squirrels
  • Chipmunks
  • Raccoons
  • Feral Cats
  • Opossums
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Birds

How Are Pests in the Attic?

Now, you’re probably wondering how pests and rodents infiltrated your attic in the first place. It’s airtight, no?

Not to a little rascal like a rodent.

The attic is easily accessible for pests and rodents for two reasons: 1) tree branches and power lines provide easy access to this area of the house. 2) many small entryways can be found into the attic for pipes, wiring, ventilation, and heating.

Let’s take a look at how rodents can ransack your attic.

Ventilation Panels

Most animals need some source of heat, both warm- and cold-blooded animals.

When it’s cold out, the attic starts to look like a good resting ground for the night, or fortnight.

The warm air emanating from your home’s ventilation panels is a welcome sign to pests and rodents.

This includes:

  • air-control exhaust ventilation panels
  • gable vents in older homes for natural cooling methods
  • exhaust vents for kitchen and bathroom appliances like stoves and dryers

Most of these panels are made of metal, but some are constructed of wood or plastic. Many rodents have teeth specifically designed for cracking open the solid exterior of nuts and seeds.

See how this might be a problem?

Squirrels, especially, are very adept at gnawing through an old panel itself, or the foam insulation that lines it. And birds can easily fly right up to a slatted vent and take nest inside your attic.

Roof Joints and Intersections

Roofs are quite efficient at protecting against weather and other elements of nature. But their defenses against tiny invaders?—not so much.

Places where the roof joins together with either a wall or another section of roofing become easy-access entry points for pests. This is due to moisture damage.

Water elements like rain, snow, and ice formations are meant to slide off the roof and onto the ground. For the most part, the water does as intended. However, especially at intersections at joints, this water will collect and build up.

As roofs age, they become weakened due to this water damage.

These thickly moistened roof edges then become an easy target for the gnawing teeth of a rodent. A couple of hours and they’ll have chewed a tunnel right into your attic.

In some cases, pests don’t even have to dig their way inside. They can just walk right in.

Some shingles can become dislodged over time. And when this happens at a point where two roof sections intersect, direct access can be achieved. It’s a small gap that might be missed by water drainage, but a rodent can squeeze right in.

Plumbing and Electric Mats

Electrical wiring and plumbing sometimes require access to the outside through your attic.

During installation for the tubing and panel boxes, holes can sometimes be drilled a bit larger than necessary. These holes are then filled in with rubber matting to seal it off from the elements.

However, like insulation lining, this matting can be easily chewed through. All it takes is one, persevering pest to gnaw through and make home in your attic.

How to Remove Pests?

So we know how they got in…now how do we get them out of the attic?

Well, let me ask you a question: are you a good witch, or a bad witch?

Rodent Traps

There are several styles of traps available for purchase, but if you’re going the route of trapping the pests we recommend humane traps.

They allow for a controller manner of removing the animal without harming it.

Contact your local wildlife refuge for advice on how to properly rehabilitate the critter you’ve just caught.

Pest Exterminators

If you’d like to be one and done with it, it’s best to call up an exterminator.

Rather than setting up multiple traps and disposing of the remains yourself, a rodent removal professional can manage it all in a timely manner. It’s the peace of mind worth investing in, so make an appointment!

How to Prevent Pests From Coming Back?

The fun isn’t over just yet.

After getting rid of the current residents, you’ll have to do all in your power to make sure they don’t come back!

First, get rid of all the remains. Scents and territory markings, fecal matter, nesting materials—everything that could indicate to a wild animal that this could be their new home.

Once that’s done, it’s time to foolproof your roof and attic.

Make an appointment with a professional for pest and rodent prevention services. They’ll have the proper training and knowledge to block off any and every nook and cranny.

Take Action Now

Pests can be quite a nuisance with their incessant scratching and scuttling across the floor.

Worse, though, they can be a terrible financial burden. The damage they cause can require full replacement of ceiling beams and roof structures.

It’s better to take care of the problem sooner than later.

Contact us now for a free estimate on our services in regards to rodents and pests in the attic. We provide quality service for all your attic and roofing needs.

how to insulate an old house

How to Insulate an Old House: Why the Attic is Key

Have you been experiencing colder winters lately? Is your house an older structure with an attic? If it is, you need to look into adding proper insulation to your home.

The energy efficiency of a house can cut down on costs bigtime. An example is how water heating uses around 90% of the energy it takes to operate a washer. Modern washing machines can clean your clothes without hot water.

The insulation heat loss of your home can lead to paying a higher bill than cutting down on it. So how do you keep your home warm in the winter seasons without emptying your wallet? The key is to invest in insulating your attic.

Below, we will give you a guide on how to insulate an old house.

1. Why the Attic?

We all know that hot air rises as cool air sinks to a low level. Let’s apply this knowledge to your house. Without proper insulation, in the winter months, the warm air you need will seep up to the attic.

No matter how small the gaps that lead up to your attic, warm air will find ways to go up. Other than that, the pressure in the area with warm air will increase. On a cold day, that pressure and the lower pressure from outside pull the warm air through any gap in can find.

Other than that, the high air pressure at the top of the house will create low pressure at the bottom. The cold air gets pulled in because of these different air pressures, making your home frigid. This is what energy experts call the stack effect.

Before you insulate your attic, read these pre-insulation steps first.

2. Fill the Gaps

Your insulated attic isn’t necessarily a sealed attic. Before you begin the installation of insulation, you have to make sure to seal all the gaps in your attic. Insulation works to slow down heat loss but not to stop airflow.

Check all the gaps and holes where air can pass then seal them up. Cover gaps with planks or drywall pieces. You can also use latex caulk or urethane foam for wider gaps.

Check gaps from light fixtures, pipes, wiring, and heating/cooling ducts. For chimneys and stove flues, use sheet-metal collar and caulk to seal gaps around them. Use weather stripping around the edges of your attic door for an attic door seal,

Warm air can also leave through your attic ventilation. In the summer, vents in the attic keep the house nice and cool. In the winter months, you want to cover your attic vents if you can.

Attics that are already insulated will need more elbow grease. Roll back batts so you can seal all the gaps under them. Remember your safety gear: pants, long sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask.

What if the attic has loose-fill insulation, which you can’t pull back? It’s better for you to call a weatherization contractor to find all the gaps and holes. Don’t leave a breach for warm air to escape through.

3. Install Attic Insulation

The answer to making an old house inhabitable is insulation. Even if you bought the house with insulation already installed into it, it’s best to double check. The insulation materials used in older houses are not as effective in keeping heat in as the new ones.

The insulation must meet DOE standards. For most of the US, the DOE’s standard is R-38. Your area may have a different standard so be sure to check first.

You have many choices for your insulation batting. The traditional option is fiberglass insulation. When you choose this solution and work at it alone, be careful and wear safety gear.

You can add R-30 insulation batting throughout your attic. Or, you can also use blown-in insulation which has environment-friendly materials available. A 15-inch thickness is like the R-30 insulation batting.

For a greener insulation project, Cellulose blown-in insulation is available. Recycled newsprint makes up cellulose. The R-value is greater than fiberglass and it is fire-retardant.

The best way to insulate attic doors is to make a pillow made of insulation batting. Measure first before you stick it onto the attic door with tape. Add foam to the edges to keep it air-sealed.

Did you know that 42% of the energy used in homes goes to space heating? Compare it to the energy air conditioning uses up, which is 6%. When it comes to keeping the house habitable temperature-wise, homeowners use up more energy and money in colder seasons.

4. Other Ways on How to Insulate an Old House

For the most part, the attic is a big factor in heat loss. Still, that doesn’t mean we should ignore other common heat leaks. The following are other measures you can take to keep heat in.

After the attic, windows are the second major problem. Make sure you have storm windows in place. Next, keep your exterior walls insulated as well.

Check your home for other gaps. Follow pips, cables, or drains that may lead outside the home. If you find any, seal them up to keep heat in.

When you insulate light fixtures, make sure your insulation materials are a good distance away from the heat of the lights. You may need to install wooden blocks around the lights. Insulation materials too close to the heat generated by the lights can cause fires.

Make Your House Energy-Efficient

Before you seal or insulate your attic, it’s best to clear it out first. This way, it’s easier to remove the plywood on the attic floor. Before you peel away the plywood, assess its condition if it’s fit for insulation.

Check your current insulation for dampness. The presence of molds and stains means that it’s time to change them. All these steps on how to insulate an old house are great investments in energy savings.

Don’t wait to insulate! Feel free to contact us today and we can help you get started. If you’re not so sure yet, don’t worry about the cost because we offer free estimates as well!

Rodent Proofing Your Garden Helps Rodent Proof Your House

rodent proofing your garden helps rodent proof your house

Mice and rats are intelligent and curious creatures and, like humans, they love to find a safe and consistent source of food and shelter. By finding ways to rodent proof your yard and garden spaces, you’ll inherently protect your home from unwanted rodents.

Rodent proofing your garden starts with denying the food source

Your vegetable gardens, along with fruit and seed bearing trees and flowers, serve as a one-stop grocery store and restaurant for rats and other rodent pests. Rats and mice love to feast on tender leaves and greens every bit as much as they love to eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and sweeter veggies. They even love to eat worms and insects making their home in your soil and garden beds, not to mention the allure of your irrigation system’s supply of fresh water.

Once your garden becomes a favorite rodent hotspot, it’s inevitable that the rodents will migrate into your warm, cozy home – including attics, basement, and crawlspaces.

Thus, taking the steps necessary to rodent proofing your garden and outdoor spaces is a first line of defense in rodent proofing your home.

Rats and mice spread pathogens

In addition to protecting your plants, the final harvest and your home – there’s another important reason to keep rats and mice away from the garden; they spread pathogens.

For example, rodent fecal matter often contains Salmonellosis. When droppings are watered, the bacteria spread into the soil and splashes up onto the leaves of lettuces, greens, and other edible plants and veggies. Without diligent washing and cleaning, the pathogen can spread to your family, causing serious illness – particularly in babies, young children and the elderly.

They also spread other known pathogens and viruses, and are hosts for other unpleasant parasites – including fleas and ticks.

Keep rats, mice, and rodents out of the garden

Here are some of the ways you make your garden less attractive – or impenetrable – to rodents and other unwanted guests.

Start seedlings indoors

Rats and mice love tender seeds, and freshly-sprouted seeds are an even better source of protein and nutrients. Planting seeds directly in the ground makes easy pickins for mice and rats. Instead, sprout your seedlings indoors so they have a chance to grow, planting them in the ground after they’ve taken off and have a good, strong start.

Protect your compost pile

Compost piles are wonderful, reducing landfill waste and using food scraps to help nourish next year’s garden. Unfortunately, they’re also a feasting ground for rats and mice. Make your compost pile as unpleasant as possible by turning it regularly and spraying it down with a garden hose, making it more difficult for rodents to access fresh food scraps.

Eliminate prospective shelters

Rodents love to hole up in wood piles and overgrown vegetation. Eliminate prospective shelters by moving wood and kindling piles regularly, keeping lawns and perimeter vegetation neatly mowed and trimmed and bagging yard waste immediately for disposal.

Install wire mesh below and alongside raised beds

Mice and small rats can squeeze through holes the size of a dime. Keep this in mind as you work to prevent underground and above ground access. Mesh wire should be laid along the bottom and sides of raised garden boxes – preventing burrowing access.

Use plants that keep rats away in borders and perimeters

There are some plants that naturally assist with rodent proofing your garden from rats and other rodents, so try these plants that keep rats away, using them around your yard, garden as borders, etc. These include:

  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Bay (sprinkle bay leaves around the garden beds)
  • Catnip
  • Onion
  • Daffodil
  • Wood Hyacinth (squill)
  • Elderberry
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Camphor plant

Sachets made from mint, lavender and other fragrant flowers or leaves have long been used to keep stored garments fresh; they also help to repel rodents so you can turn the yield from these outdoor plants that keep rats away into natural deterrents.

Control lawn pests – particularly grubs

A grubby lawn, plus a nearby garden is a win-win for rodents. By using eco-safe grub control methods for your lawn, rodent proofing your garden combined with some serious garden control and rodent repellents, will make your yard and home less attractive to those pests.

How to eliminate resident rats from the garden

First, identify which rodents are the problem so you can target specific types for elimination:

  • Look for them. Rats and mice are most active at dusk and dawn. Look for them scurrying along powerlines, fences and tree lines.
  • Plants disappear from below. Gophers and moles may be your problem, but rats and mice are tunnelers, too. They love to gnaw and tug on plants from their root base, bringing the whole feast back home to the family.
  • Look for holes and burrows. Because rodents are tunnelers, you’ll typically see evidence of their superhighway via holes or mounds of fresh earth.
  • Do you see any tracks – which will appear in trail formats on well-worn rodent pathways.
  • Mounds of soil indicate the entrance of a gopher, mole or rat hole. Rats make smaller mounts, gophers make larger mounds. Heart-shaped mounds are the sign of moles, rounder mounds are more typical of gophers.
  • Keep an eye out for droppings. If you have mice or rats in your garden, you’ll see evidence of black- or dark-brown droppings on top of the soil.
  • Smear marks will appear on fence lines, the top of wood piles, stone or metal caused by body oil and debris that remains from well-worth paths.
  • Chewed or damaged fencing material is evidence that they’re gnawing their way in.

Any of these signs indicate rats in the garden – and probably your home – warranting attention from you or a professional to start rodent proofing your garden.

Traps are the best means of eliminating rats and rodents

The best way to eliminate rats and other rodents from your garden is trapping. You can flood burrows with water – flushing rodents from the ground – but they’ll return. If you opt for this method, flood the burrows a few times a week for several weeks, forcing the intelligent rodents to find a newer, safer place to live.

Poisons are risky

Frustrated homeowners can forsake their ethics and opt for poison when they aren’t able to get a handle on things but this is a risky choice. Rodents and mice that are poisoned may be eaten or played with by your own dog or cat. Unwitting children may mistake a slower-moving poisoned rat for a tame “pet” or plaything.

Once sick and/or dead – poisoned are eaten by other animals that are then poisoned. These untargeted victims are often the same predators you want to hang around because they keep rodent populations in check.

Consider using baited and/or live traps for rodent proofing your garden

If you are against using a traditional snap trap, consider live trap options – some of which are designed to capture multiple rodents at a time. Just remember to let them go at least a mile away – multiple miles away is best –from your home since rodents are likely to find their way back otherwise.

Are you concerned you have rats in the garden or fear rodent proofing your garden hasn’t worked? Contact us here at Attic Solutions and we’ll rodent proof your attic and crawl spaces, helping you to eliminate rats and mice once and for all.

radiant barrier

Radiant Barrier: Is it Right for Your Home?

You live in a warm climate and your cooling costs are outrageous.

Did you know that the sun is the primary source of heat in your attic space?

Did you know that a radiant barrier can keep your attic cooler and reduce your cost to cool the whole house?

Not sure what a radiant barrier is? No problem. Keep reading to learn if a radiant barrier is the right choice for your home.

What is Radiant Barrier Insulation?

A radiant barrier is a type of insulation specifically designed for attics in warm to hot climates. The barrier is made from a highly reflective material.

Types of Radiant Barriers

Radiant barriers come in a few different options. It is always a reflective material, usually aluminum foil, adhered to a backing material for support. This stiffer material may be cardboard, plastic, OSB, or sometimes kraft paper.

You can find reinforced radiant barriers for increased durability. Fiber-reinforced backing is easier to handle during installation.  

Radiant barriers may be installed as part of your attic’s insulation system. 

Perforated vs Non-Perforated Barriers

You can find both perforated and non-perforated radiant barriers.

A non-perforated barrier does not allow water vapor to pass through it. It is a solid piece of reflective material.

Depending on your HVAC system and house ventilation, this may not be good. It can cause dampness in the attic. If moisture from the house cannot find another way out, it can condense in the attic space and damage your home.

A perforated barrier has tiny holes that allow for better airflow. This reduces the risk of condensation forming. 

How Does a Radiant Barrier Work?

Radiant barriers physically reflect the sun’s heat, called radiant heat. By doing this, they don’t allow the attic infrastructure to absorb the heat.  This is the reflectivity of the barrier. 

It keeps the joists and ductwork from getting hotter. Think of it as moving your home from the direct sun into the shade.

They also keep the air in the attic space from heating up. This is the emissivity of the barrier. Essentially, the hot air from the outside is not able to emit heat to the cooler air on the inside.

What are the Benefits of Radiant Barriers?

In a nutshell, radiant barriers reduce heat gain from the sun and reduce cooling costs.

By reducing the amount of heat your home absorbs, you can significantly cut down on cooling costs. If you aren’t running your HVAC system at its max, you will likely also save money in the long-run. You will reduce maintenance and repair costs for the system.

The hotter it gets, the better your radiant barrier will work. This means that in the worst part of the hot months, you will reduce your cooling costs the most. 

A radiant barrier allows your attic space to be converted into a living space. You can keep the attic a comfortable temperature all year long. 

You can finally convert that unused space into your dream home office or guest room!

Radiant barriers may also help you qualify for Energy Star certifications for your home. This helps with resale value. 

How is Radiant Barrier Installed?

A professional should install the radiant barrier.  

It is generally installed during construction of a new home. However, if you are re-roofing your home, or you have an unfinished attic with open rafters, you can retrofit the attic with radiant barrier.

The foil is draped between roof rafters. This can be accomplished before the roof goes on, or by stapling the material to the bottom of the rafters after-the-fact. 

It’s important to allow the material to droop between the rafters. There should be about 1″ of air space between the radiant barrier and the bottom of the roof. 

Things to Watch Out For During Installation

A radiant barrier’s effectiveness depends on proper installation. Using a certified installer is your best bet because there are some precautions to be taken during installation. 

Aluminum foil conducts electricity. The installer needs to make sure that the foil does not contact bare wiring or other sources of electricity. 

The barrier should not be installed on top of the attic floor insulation. Foil on the floor will accumulate dust. It may also trap moisture in the thermal insulation. Both reduce the effectiveness of the radiant barrier and can cause other expensive damage to your home. 

The radiant barrier requires the right spacing to function properly. If the foil is pulled tight between rafters, or is sandwiched between pieces of insulation, the foil will become a conductor of heat. 

The air space is what makes the foil work as a radiant barrier. No air space means that the barrier will actually be working against your insulation system. It will reduce your thermal insulation’s effectiveness. 

Is a Radiant Barrier Worth the Cost?

The value of a radiant barrier in your home depends on your climate and current insulation system. You benefit the most when:

Your Attic is Poorly Insulated

If your attic is already very well insulated, you won’t notice the difference of the radiant barrier.

The older your home, or the worse the condition of your current insulation, the more difference you will see. It may be more cost effective to upgrade your insulation with radiant barrier than remove and replace all of your insulation. 

Your Roof Gets Direct Sunlight

A radiant barrier reduces the heat gained from the sun. If your home is in the shade consistently, the radiant barrier won’t be as effective. 

A south-facing roof will see the most benefit from the installation of a radiant barrier. 

Outbuildings with metal roofs would also see a huge difference in radiant heat absorption. If you have a garage, barn, shed, or other outdoor workspaces, you can cut the summer swelter by adding a radiant barrier. 

There is Ductwork in Your Attic

Most older homes have ductwork that runs through the attic. A poorly insulated attic means that the hot ducts warm the air as it passes through the attic into your living spaces.

This makes your air conditioning system less effective. 

Adding a radiant barrier to your attic will reduce the heat absorbed by the ductwork. It reduces the load on your HVAC and A/C systems. 

Installing a radiant barrier is cheaper and easier than insulating the entire ductwork system. 

Get Ready to Cut Your Cooling Costs

Living in a warm climate should not mean you have to break the bank to keep your home cool. 

A radiant barrier may be the perfect solution to keeping your home and wallet more comfortable in the heat. 

Think that a radiant barrier is the right move for your home? Contact us today for a free estimate. 

attic space into living space

Converting Attic Space Into Living Space: How It’s Done

The average national cost for attic renovations is $49,438

Considering how much space you will gain with a finished attic, this cost could be very worthwhile.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about converting an attic space into living space.

Ensure Your Attic Meets Building Codes

Before you begin to think about attic storage ideas and what your finished attic will look like, you need to deal with building codes.

Check with your with your local municipality about the building code in your area.

A building inspector can come to inspect your attic to see if it meets the codes. He or she will give you a list of the necessary codes that need to be met. 

Your attic room might not currently meet the code requirements, yet. If so you must factor in the necessary changes during your renovations.

There are three main aspects to attics building codes.

Ceiling

In order to turn your attic space into living space, the ceilings must be 7 feet from the floor.  

If your attic isn’t 7 feet, you could lower the floor or raise the attic height. You’ll need a skilled contractor for either project.

Egress

If you plan to turn your attic space into a bedroom, you’ll have to have at least two exits. One can be the staircase to the lower floor. Another exit could be a window.

Ideally, you’ll have an in-wall escape ladder tucked behind a cabinet door, just in case you need to use this exit. 

Joist

The attic floor joists need to meet certain codes to be able to support the weight of your renovated living space.

Extra weight comes in the form of plumbing, drywall, and lighting. 

Once you’ve dealt with building codes, you can turn your attention to light in your attic.

Think About Natural Light

One of the tricky things about converting attic space into living space is natural light. 

Typically, attics don’t have many windows. Adding dormers can be pricey and will eat up wall space.

A better option is to install skylights.

These allow both fresh air and a flood of natural light into the space. Plus, installation is simpler this way.

Skylights look stunning on slanted ceilings! You can even get solar-powered shades that you can control with a remote to keep the temperature perfect in the attic.

Opt for Spray Foam Insulation

If you are creating an attic bedroom, you’ll have to think about insulation.

The attic is often the hottest room in during the hot months. It can get icy cold in the winter. The quality of insulation in the attic affects how comfortable the finished attic is. 

Traditional insulation is fiberglass batt insulation. You might recognize it as the pink fluffy stuff that you’ve seen sticking out of walls in basements.

But, to make an attic room that is comfortable in every season, you want the best insulation you can. That way you won’t spend tons of money and energy heating and cooling the finished attic.

Though it’s more expensive, foam insulation forms a tight air barrier in every tiny crevice. Plus, rodents and insects can’t chomp through the stuff which is a bonus.

And since it takes up less space, you will have more room overhead this way.

Do You Need a New HVAC Zone?

If you are planning to convert your attic into an attic bedroom, you might want to make sure the temperature is right in the space.

You can have an HVAC professional create a new zone for your finished attic. Then it would get its own thermostat so that the attic rooms are heated and cooled properly. 

You really want to do this step now before you’ve finished the space. It will be much more work and money down the line.  

Think About Soundproofing

What room of the house will be directly under the finished attic space? If it’s a bedroom, you will want to seriously consider soundproofing the attic flooring.

Even walking around on the attic flooring can sound extremely loud in the room below.

Thicker floor joists and dense-pack insulation that is blown in over the bays will help a lot. A good carpet with a thick underpad will also help minimize the noise.

Get Creative with Storage in the Finished Attic 

Likely, you’ve been using your unfinished attic as a storage space. But once that space is an attic bedroom, you’ll have to reconsider where to put things.

Your attic probably has some awkward angles and nooks that run along pine chases or chimneys. Use these spots to your advantage as storage solutions.

There are tons of awesome attic renovation ideas to inspire you online.

For example, low walls are a great spot for DIY open shelves.

You can also put in some recessed cubbies or a recessed chest of drawers. 

Adding a Bathroom 

Adding a bathroom to your finished attic is a genius idea if you can swing it.

You can expect a 60% return on your investment if you sell the house down the road.

If you have pipes in the attic already, putting in a bathroom up there won’t be too difficult. If the plumbing isn’t already in place you may want to go with up-flush plumbing.

This type of plumbing lets you put a shower, toilets, and sinks in places without a nearby drain. 

Final Thoughts on Turning Your Attic Space Into Living Space

Renovating an unused attic into a finished attic is a smart way to add more living space to your home.

You can use the finished attic as a bedroom, lounge area, den or playroom. Then, if you ever decide to list your property, your house will be able to sell for so much extra because of the additional living space.

At Attic Solutions, we can sanitize, remove and replace your old insulation. Request a free estimate today.  

crawl space insulation

Clean and Dry: Why You Should Consider Installing a Moisture Barrier in Your Crawl Space

Ever ventured into the dark recess under your home and found wet spots or creatures? If so, you know crawl space insulation is important.

Never had that experience? Let’s make sure you never meet a rodent or water leak when examining pipes, or storing boxes in the crawl space.

The crawl space is the area underneath the floor of your home. There isn’t much height, usually enough room to crawl. Most people consider it extra storage space, but it’s more than that.

The area is part of your house structure. It allows air to circulate through the home. It provides access to pipes, electrical systems, and ductwork for maintenance or repair.

A clean, insulated crawl space is essential for an efficient home. Let’s take a look at the benefits of proper crawl space insulation.

Improve Your Home’s Structural Integrity

It’s important to insulate the crawl space to keep the home structure sound. If moisture builds up inside the crawl space it could spread into the walls.

A lot of water could warp your floors. Mold and mildew grow in damp areas. Groundwater can damage a crawl space.

Vapor barriers and insulation maintain the structural integrity of your home. It protects it from air pollutants, rodents, and termites.

When a structure is sound you can use the area under it for storage. That’s another benefit.

Gain More Storage Space in Your Home

Why rent space at a local warehouse when you can keep possessions close at hand for free? If your crawl space is gross, wet or home to rodents you can’t use it as free storage space.

Invest in a professional crawl space clean up to remove debris and old insulation. If the area is clean and easy to access you can store seasonal items, tools, toys, and more. 

Crawl space storage eliminates clutter inside your home. You also save the cost and travel time spent on an off-site mini-warehouse unit. Clean and update your crawl space for convenient storage at home.

Crawl Space Insulation Removes Moisture

You don’t want to store anything in a dark, wet space. The main focus of an update to a crawl space is the elimination of water.

Water gathers under your home due to natural groundwater, rainwater, and condensation. All water threatens the home.

As mentioned earlier, a wet foundation is at risk. Moisture also causes rust on your duct work. Clean up and insulation takes care of most water issues.

There are two types of crawl spaces: ventilated and unventilated. Each situation requires a certain kind of insulation. Ventilated spaces help to eliminated moisture.

Unventilated spaces shouldn’t insulate the subfloor between floor joists. In both cases, a vapor barrier over the dirt floor adds protection from groundwater.

The main thing is to identify the source of the moisture problem. If it’s due to poor ventilation, add the plastic vapor barrier on the floor. When water leaks through the foundation get professional help to repair it.

After repairing the foundation cracks, take preventative measures. A French drain around the home’s perimeter can move water away from the foundation.

Crawl spaces are in the exact place water runoff is common: underneath the home. Dirt floors add to the problem. Moisture and mold favor the wet dirt.

Moisture buildup can attract termites. They love eating damp wood. Termites cause damage at an alarming rate.

That’s another reason a vapor barrier is vital to ending moisture build up in the basement.

Reduce Rodent Invasions

Do you know who likes dark humid places? Raccoons, squirrels, snakes, chipmunks, rabbits, and possums. Critters like living under your home.

Old boxes and piles of junk appeal to rodents. A crawl space is a place to have babies, store food, and shelter.

That cute chipmunk isn’t so cute when he gnaws through your electrical wires or ductwork. Do you want squirrels in your walls?

When rodents live in your crawl space they leave their scent. The smell attracts other creatures. If you don’t want generations of rats living under your home, insulate your crawl space.

Insulation removes the things rodents like. Don’t forget to block entrance areas. Cover ventilation openings with wire that keeps animals out, but lets air flow.

Proper insulation recognizes risks and eliminates situations that attract rodents and other pests.

Improve Energy Efficiency

In older homes, the crawl spaces aren’t heated unless a homeowner updated it. Most have a dirt or gravel floor. These conditions can make it harder to heat your house in an efficient manner.

If your crawl space doesn’t stop cold air from getting into your home, your heating system works harder.

Insulation keeps the cold air in the crawl space. You’ll need insulation under the floor. Insulate any ductwork or pipes that enter the house from the crawl space.  This prevents cold air leaks, plus the pipes won’t freeze in cold weather.

Think of crawl space insulation as an extension of your whole house insulation. If you ignore it, you’ll lose heat and cool air through the floor. Your HVAC system must then work harder to keep your home comfortable.

The right insulation reduces the amount of heat lost through the floor. It helps you control the temperature in your home. It also reduces your energy costs.

Call the Experts for Professional Insulation

Crawl space insulation protects your home from mold, mildew, termites, and rodents. It’s a smart way to make your home energy-efficient and comfortable. 

Call the experts at Attic Solutions. Let the pros remove and dispose of old insulation. We’ll clean your crawl space and protect it with proper insulation.

After installation, it’s important to maintain the area under your home. We offer a checkup service and routine maintenance.

Visit  Attic Solutions for a free estimate. Let us know if you have other concerns. We’re happy to answer any and all questions.