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!

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.

crawl space cleaning

7 Tips on When and How to Budget for Crawl Space Cleaning

Is your home dirty and you don’t even know it?

Your kitchen is spotless, the bathroom is immaculate. Your floors? You could eat off them!

If that’s all been taken care of, what could you be missing?

It’s often said that the things we neglect the most are those we don’t see every day. Ask yourself: when is the last time you looked in your crawl space?

The area under your floors or roof could be the dirtiest place in your house. It’s dark and damp, which is a breeding ground for molds and bacteria. This is a danger to your home and family.

Cleaning up mold isn’t a DIY project. You need to hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Unfortunately, that’s going to cost you.

Issues with mold, odors, and water need a professional crawl space cleaning. Read on to learn when to do it and how to budget for it.

1. Your Insulation Is Insufficient

The insulation in your crawl space maybe worn down over time or was never adequately installed in the first place. Visually, you can determine any problems with your insulation by seeing if there are any cracks or defects in it.

Another way to check on this? Go over your electric bill! One clue is if there’s a spike in your heating and cooling utilities that doesn’t make sense.

Faulty insulation in your crawl space can be driving up your electrical bill. That’s because the heating system has to work harder to keep your home warm.

With sufficient insulation, your crawl space will be sealed tightly, just like your wallet.

2. The Ventilation System Is Faulty

The air you let out of your crawl space is just as important as the air you let in. Poor ventilation in the wintertime can result in frozen pipes. In the summer, the trapped humidity can make those pipes rusty.

Make sure to look for pools of moisture or possible blockages around all external vents. The last thing you want to invest in is new pipes!

3. Pest Infestations

Bats, rodents, and pests love to settle down in a dark, undisturbed area. That’s why crawl spaces are ideal homes for them. But, you don’t want uninvited guests in your home, do you?

Signs of rodents, bats, or insects can include noises in the walls, foul odors, and excrement piles. While none of those things are pleasant, the damage these pests can do to your insulation and walls is what you want to avoid the most.

Call a professional to evict these unwanted guests ASAP.

4. Mold Is Taking Over

Mold is the biggest threat that a dirty crawl space poses to your home. Some molds can lead to dangerous health issues in people and pets. To determine if you have any mold, look for visible patches and smell for musty odors.

If mold is spotted, it’s better to be safe than sorry and assume that it can cause you harm. You must get professionals to remove these hazards.

Though it may be a large financial cost, it pales in comparison to the value of you or your family’s health.

5. It’s Time for a Cleaning if It’s Been Awhile

Maybe you haven’t noticed any problems with rodents or an unusually high heating bill. But, just because a dirty crawl space hasn’t caused problems yet, doesn’t mean you have to wait until something happens.

If you’ve never gotten your crawl space cleaned or it’s been years, it’s time to schedule one!

It’s always easier to prevent a mold or rodent problem than to fix it later. Catching it early is also helpful. With homeowner problems like those, it’s likely that it’s been going on for a while before you noticed.

Keeping up with annual cleanings will allow you to find issues before they do real damage.

6. What Price Do You Need to Budget For?

For just a cleaning, professionals will charge you based on the size of your space. The condition it’s in will also be a factor.

A straightforward job won’t cost too much. But, if the pros find a lot of problems that need to be fixed, that’s when it starts adding up.

If it’s a rodent problem, that’s one of the easier issues to deal with. That will be on the low end price-wise.

When it comes to mold, that will charge you a little extra. It’s hard to deal with mold and it’s more dangerous. If that’s your problem, you’ll get another estimate for that cost depending on how much there is.

Water damage can be the most expensive issue to fix. That can run you in the thousands. Additionally, if there’s water damage, there’s probably mold and ruined insulation as well.

7. Spend Money Now to Save Later

Budget for a cleaning as you would any other home costs like the electric bill and seasonal landscaping. Commit to it as being a necessary annual expense that you plan ahead for.

It’s a lot easier to find the money for maintenance cleaning. You can be in control over when to do it. For example, if you know you’re getting a bonus at work in a month, you can wait until then to schedule.

When you let it go until there’s a big problem, that’s when you get in trouble.

Find extreme mold in December? It won’t matter that money is tight from buying holiday gifts. It has to get fixed right away.

Keep up with maintenance now, and your future self will thank you.

Don’t Put Off a Crawl Space Cleaning

Nobody wants to spend money on something they hardly ever even see. But, putting off a crawl space cleaning isn’t the answer. When it gets out of hand, you’ll just end up spending more money later.

Is it time for your crawl space to get some attention? Then contact us to get a free service cleaning estimate.

Insulating an Attic? Read this First

Fall and winter are the times when your home will need to work overtime. This means that it’s about time to check on your attic insulation and make sure it’s up to par.

After all, a poor insulation leads to energy loss, which then leads to higher bills.

The insulation in your attic will degrade over time. If you’ve been noticing your energy consumption going up, it may be time to replace the insulation.

But first, there are important pointers you need to know before insulating an attic. Read on to make sure your attic is ready for insulation and how you can prepare it.

Clear Out Your Attic First

An attic serves an important purpose in the insulation and ventilation of the whole house, but for homeowners, it has another purpose in storage terms. It’s spacious, making it perfect as a room for storing old items.

If you’re planning to add an insulation for attic rooms, though, you must clean your attic first. Not only will it make working in the attic easier but it will also allow you to add an insulation to the floor.

You may have to add some insulating material to the floor. This is one of the cheapest ways of insulating the attic, so you also have to consider doing this.

To do this, you’ll have to remove the plywood to do a proper job. With this in mind, look for another spot in your house that can store your items in the meantime.

Assess the Condition of Your Attic

Next on your to-do list is to evaluate your attic to spot if there are any problems you need to address first. For example, the size of your rafters may not be up to the current building codes, or there are some compromised structures within your attic.

You may need the help of an architect or a builder to make sure. They’ll be able to see if there are things that need fixing and provide a solution for you.

This step is crucial; you don’t want your roof to fall on you when winter comes. The insulation will prevent the roof from warming, which then makes the snow above melt at a slower rate. For this reason, the snow load increases faster, putting your roof at risk of collapsing.

This will cost you money, but it’s still cheaper than when your roof collapses. It’s much less dangerous and inconvenient, too.

Check Your Current Attic Insulation

While evaluating the condition of your attic, you’ll also come across your current insulation. Check if it’s wet or damp; these are signs that you’re dealing with moisture issues, such as a roof leak.

This is also the time to throw away any bad insulation material – those that are moldy, stained, or compressed. If you see a loose grainy insulation with shiny flecks, this could be vermiculite, which might contain asbestos. You don’t want to remove this yourself as it poses a risk to your family and neighbors; it’s best to call a professional instead.

Seal Before Insulating an Attic

When you add insulation, you don’t want the heated or cooled air escape outside, do you? This renders the insulation useless, which is why you should make sure to seal all holes, gaps, and cracks.

Check around the attic windows, ducts, wires, exhaust fans, and chimneys. Use a spray foam, but for gaps 1/4″ or less, use caulk.

Still, remember that your attic needs some sort of ventilation. You may talk to a professional to assess your ventilation system.

Determine Your Target Insulation Level

The R-value specifies the insulation level, which measures the insulation’s thermal performance. The R-value differs per material and thickness, which is also something you should check when evaluating your current insulation.

The recommended R-value for your home depends on where you live and the climate. On hot climates, the minimum is R-30, whereas it’s R-38 for temperate climates and R-49 for cold climates. To know the recommended value for your state, check the U.S. Department of Energy website.

Choose the Right Insulation Type

After doing these steps, your attic should be ready for insulation. The only thing left to do is to choose what material you’re going to use. You’ll have to take into account the attic insulation cost and the R-values here.

Let’s discuss the 2 most common types used in insulating attics.

Batts and Rolls

Batts and rolls are great materials for a DIY insulation of the attic, and it’s somewhat inexpensive as well. As for installation, you fit these into studs, beams, and joists.

You have different material options for this type of insulation with varying R-value per inch:

  • Fiberglass: 2.9 – 4.3
  • Mineral Wool: 3.0 – 3.3
  • Cellulose: 3.7 – 3.8
  • Cotton: 3.7 – 3.8

Each material offers different advantages; for instance, fiberglass is cheaper, but cellulose won’t irritate the lungs or skin. Mineral wool is fire-resistant, and cotton is good for blocking sounds.

Loose-Fill and Blown-In

If you have spaces with irregular shapes, loose or blown-in insulation materials may be better for this job. They’re also great for filling around obstructions. The installation methods for this type is blowing it using a special equipment or pouring it in.

As with the batts and rolls, you have different material options as well:

  • Fiberglass: 2.2 – 2.7
  • Mineral Wool: 3.0 – 3.3
  • Cellulose: 3.2 – 3.8

The fiberglass option is cheaper here as well, and it’s lighter than the other 2. Loose mineral wool is also still fire-resistant, but as you would expect, it costs more.

The most common out of the 3 is cellulose, but you have to make sure to not expose it to moisture. It’s susceptible to growing mold and rotting.

Insulate Your Attic Now

These are pretty much all you need to know before insulating an attic. The next step is to learn how to insulate attic spaces, which is useful information if you plan to do it yourself.

You can also visit us and discover some of our other blogs and guides for additional help. If you need expert help, don’t hesitate to contact us now. We’ll provide you with the best attic solutions.

bats in the attic

Bats in Your Attic? How to Get Rid of Them (And Other Pests)

Do you suspect that you have bats living in your home’s attic? Or do you think you might have birds, squirrels, mice, or other pests causing problems in the space?

If so, you shouldn’t ignore bats in the attic or anything else for that matter for a single second. That could cause even more issues for you and wreak havoc on your entire home before long.

Instead, you should take steps to get rid of whatever is living up in your attic and prevent the pests from coming back. You should also assess any damage that was done and get it fixed right away.

Here are the specific steps you should take to rid your home of bats, birds, squirrels, mice, and more.

Figure Out Exactly What You Have in Your Attic

Before you can rid your home of whatever pests have found their way up into your attic space, you’ll need to identify the specific types of pests that are plaguing your home.

In some cases, you might be able to do this simply by keeping an eye and ear out for signs. For example, you might see squirrels scurry into your attic through a hole in your roof or birds making their way in and out through a broken vent.

In other instances, you might need to hire someone to climb up in your attic to take a look at what’s going on. It can be dangerous to try and evaluate a pest problem on your own.

Use your best judgment to find out what kind of pests you’re dealing with. It’ll allow you to move on to the next steps.

Determine How the Pests Are Accessing the Attic Space

Once you know what kind of pests are in your attic, determine how they’re getting there.

As we just mentioned, they could be getting into your attic through a hole in your roof or a broken vent. But they could also be entering your home from a much lower point and climbing in between your walls to access your attic.

If you aren’t able to find the pests’ entry point, it’s going to be tough to get rid of them once and for all. Search high and low until you find where the pests are coming from.

Hire Professionals to Remove the Pests Safely

While you’re in the process of trying to see where pests are coming into your home, you should get in touch with a company capable of providing you with top-notch rodent solutions.

Ideally, the company should have years of experience in the pest control space. It’ll allow them to come into your home and remove pests in no time.

Removing pests from a home can be a quick job if you have just two or three birds in your attic. But it could also be a more advanced project if there is a large rodent infestation in your attic.

A pest control company can break the situation down and let you know exactly how bad it is. They can then get to work and continue working until all the pests are out of your attic.

Seal Your Attic

After all the bats or other pests are out of your attic, you’ll want to be sure to have your attic space completely sealed.

That means patching up any holes that could allow pests to get right back in and cause problems. It also means closing off the original entry point securely and ensuring the pests can’t get back in through it.

This is arguably the most important step you’ll take. If you don’t seal your attic the right way, you could have another pest problem on your hands in just a few days.

Clean Up Any Droppings and Repair Any Damage

In addition to sealing your attic, you’re also going to need to clean your attic completely. Pick up any droppings left behind by the pests and repair any damage that they managed to do to your roof, insulation, plumbing pipes, electrical wires, and more.

Even if you only have bats and other pests in your attic for a couple days, they can really do a lot of damage to it. Cleaning it up is important since droppings, urine, and more can pose a serious health threat.

A reliable rodent proofing company should be able to sanitize your attic. They should also be able to disinfect and deodorize it before leaving your home. Take a look at it to see that it’s completely clean before paying the professionals for their services.

Consider Replacing Your Attic Insulation

The insulation in your attic plays a very important role in it. It prevents warm air from escaping from your home and keeps your energy bills lower than they would be otherwise.

Pests can do damage to insulation by building nests in it and displacing it from where it should be. They can also leave droppings all over the insulation and make it filthy.

If you find that your attic insulation isn’t in good condition at all following a pest infestation, think about replacing the insulation. Pests like mice, squirrels, possums, and more are known to rip apart insulation and stop it from doing its job.

Just make sure you choose a reputable company to do your insulation replacement. You want a business that will use top-of-the-line insulation to bring your attic back to life.

Get Rid of Bats in the Attic as Quickly as You Can

Bats in the attic can make a mess and ruin your insulation. They can also create a huge health hazard if they leave too many droppings behind.

At the first sign of bats, mice, squirrels, birds, or any other living thing, reach out to a rodent control company for help. They’ll be able to come out to your home, inspect your attic, and come up with a solution for getting rid of them.

Contact us today to get a free estimate for rodent solutions, insulation replacement, and all of the other services we offer. We can get things back to normal in your attic as soon as possible.