Small pests can become big problems

The smallest insects can eat away your home to a point that the structure can become unstable and dangerous to inhabit. Rodents and critters not only bring disease, but in their quest for nesting material, they can gnaw through wiring, causing short circuits and possibly fires.

Edward J. Paprocki, Principal Engineer with Hartford Steam Boiler, shows what to look for and how to protect your home.

Telltale signs your home is being invaded

Piles of sawdustPheidole, Ant, BlackAntCarpenter ants and carpenter bees will often create small sawdust piles near the entrances to their nests. If the entrance is outside, the pile can be blown away before you notice it. If the entrance is on the inside of your home, it will be a noticeable mess of sawdust.

Mud tunnels
termite hive on house , window and wallWhile termites tend to make a very fine dust from the wood they eat, when there is no wood where they want to go, or if it is too hard for them to eat their way through, they will create mud tunnels to where softer wood can be found. Mud tunnels can be seen as straight lines going up the side of your building.

Entry holes
Often squirrels and raccoons will enter your home through holes they have made in the wood or the protective screens over vents.

Gnawed wiring
warranty problem concept with torn wire
For years, telephone workers have seen cable cases chewed through by rodents, mostly squirrels, allowing water to seep into cables and create short circuits and corrosion. While voltage levels are low, the damage can lead to poor service. Should you discover something odd with your wiring, have an electrician or communications technician check it out. 

If rodents get into walls and ceilings, where electrical power wires are installed, and gnaw off protective insulation, short circuits and temporary loss of power can occur. The worst thing that can happen is a fire starting in the walls or ceiling without being detected until it’s too late.

Be alert to signs you have rodents such as messes and noises.

House mouse MHW.jpg
Rodents are not tidy creatures. They leave obvious messes, such as:

  • Balls of paper or fibres in corners of rooms, attics and in the air space of a drop ceiling
  • Cardboard boxes with missing corners chewed out
  • Empty shells from nuts such as acorns scattered about
  • Droppings

Unusual noises
Listen carefully for scratching, gnawing and the pitter-patter of little feet. Rodents can be very active during daylight hours.

Take care when first using outdoor equipmentCovered BBQ in snowEquipment that has not been used for a while, such as lawn mowers, garden tractors, barbeques, pool equipment and air conditioners may have been occupied by animals that have made their nests there.

Be careful when you open equipment covers or doors. There could be a group of mice or squirrels living under your lawn mower, or an active nest of bees in your pool equipment or air conditioner.

Call an exterminator
If you think there may be invaders in your home, call a professional exterminator to inspect your building and property. These professionals have been trained to look for the common and not so common signs of these home invaders.



© The Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company of Canada. All rights reserved. This article is for informational purposes only. All recommendations are general guidelines and are not intended to be exhaustive or complete, nor are they designed to replace information or instructions from the manufacturer of your equipment. Contact your equipment service representative or manufacturer with specific questions. Under no circumstances shall BI&I or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information or images contained in or linked to in this article.

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