Tag Archive: Home improvement

Top Tips For Keeping Termites Away

Generally considered “eco-friendly” pests, termites are quite helpful when it comes to the environment. However, when they turn to attack homes, they can become an absolute nightmare to contend with.

Termites are small voracious creatures that have a solid appetite for wood. Known to finish off houses and wooden beams overnight, these winged insects can cause destruction and untold damage to structures if left alone.

There are a variety of termite species out there and each kind has a different taste when it comes to building nests or food. The three most common ones include:

  • Coptotermes

These are the most destructive species. Termites eat anything containing cellulose which is the sugar linked molecules of timber. Cellulose also appears in material such as animal skin. It is also present in paper, gyprock, cardboard and of course their favourite food which is the framework of a home. House timber frames are often made using fallen or processed trees. In nature, it is the termite’s job to recycle these fallen trees.

  • Nasutitermes

Although this species of termites only consume particular types of timber and hardwood, they nevertheless still wreak a lot of havoc. They build their nest underground but also build arboreal nests in, under or on tree stumps.

  • Schedorhinotermes

This species are almost as destructive as Coptotermes. Creating their nest on or in tree stumps and underground, they produce distinct damage which is usually patchy with random portions taken off the timber.

Tips to Prevent a Termite Infestation

Prevention is certainly better than looking for a cure so when dealing with termites, it’s best to prepare ahead of time than suffer the consequences.

Here are a few things to remember when prepping a home to prevent termite problems.

1. Termites love wood so eliminating possible food sources can help. Another thing to note is that they cannot survive without moisture so removing leaks and plumbing problems can greatly curtail the risk of a termite infestation.

2. Always ensure that there’s proper ventilation all over and under the home or building. Termites love to gather in humid or damp areas so making sure of this means there are less chances of calling for pest control companies to take care of the problem. Make sure to get a termite inspection annually by a qualified pest control technician. One that uses radar to look inside walls and determine if termites are present.
3. Regular termite inspections should always be conducted. This should be done by a professional company who knows what kind of signs to look for. New wall penetrating radar makes termite detection much easier.

4. Any type of stored timber should be raised on piers or bricks. Scrap timber items should be immediately removed from the property. Dead trees or plants will easily attract termites so it pays to clear them out. Never stack items against home walls. Termites love shadowy areas to construct their mud tubes in. They can also penetrate the mortar joints of brickwork within four days below ground level.

5. Termites live underground and they love it when wooden beams come in contact with the soil or ground. For home pest control, always make sure to leave at least 24 inches of space between wooden structures and the soil if possible. Homes with less clearances should have a chemical barrier installed in the soil thus barring termites from entering that area. Regular termite inspections should be carried out by a qualified technician

6. Think of termites as underground cows. They wander through the soil levels looking for cellulose (food), in the form of fallen timber or a house frame. Termites are blind so it would be very unusual to see them on the surface. Everything eats them. Birds, ants, lizards, they have many enemies. There can be up to a million termites in every termite nest which can be up to 100 metres away from the food source (the home). The nest can be under a house concrete slab, in a home wall or inside a thick tree trunk.

Understanding how termites live and feed can go a long way when it comes to taking the right steps to avoid termite infestations. If a home has a concrete slab and the brickwork has been covered by soil, pavers, concrete paths & gardens, then it is wide open to a termite infestation. A reliable termite barrier should be installed immediately.

 

Protecting Your Home Investment

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Your home is likely the largest single monetary investment you will ever make. Taking care of it will keep you and your loved ones healthy and happy, and regular maintenance will preserve the value of your investment. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.

Cleanliness

 

Keep your home clean! Regular and frequent cleaning of a home will maintain its condition better than hiring a cleaning crew once a year—and if you wait that long, you’ll need the HAZMAT team.

There is simply no substitute for once-a-week (or more often) cleaning such as vacuuming, wiping down the bathrooms, mopping the kitchen floor, dusting, disposing of unusable food in the refrigerator and carrying out the trash. Daily maintenance of a home means wiping up messes as soon as they occur, picking up clutter, and cleaning up dishes. All family members, including children, should learn to clean up after themselves. Many homeowners have everyone remove their shoes when coming in from outdoors. Speaking from experience, I know that this practice will literally save the homeowner from having to replace the floorings every few years. A pile of shoes near the door is much easier to live with than constantly worn and soiled carpets, and scratched or broken tiles.

Less-frequent cleaning includes wiping out cupboards and drawers, polishing windows, scouring the oven, moving the fridge and cleaning behind/under it, and shampooing the carpet. While cleaning, you can spot signs of wear and tear, enabling you to fix any problems promptly, before they become bigger issues. Moreover, keeping your home clean and in good repair will make the house less susceptible to bugs, rodents, water damage, mold and mildew. Resolve problems in your home as soon as you are aware of them, whether it be a leaky pipe or a broken window.

Yard Upkeep

 

Keeping your lawn mowed, the trees trimmed and the flower beds weeded will not only beautify your home, but will also make you a good neighbor. Use a garden hose to flush out leaves that have accumulated in rain gutters, and provide proper drainage for rainwater to seep into the ground.

Sweep the porch, sidewalks and driveway, and remove the trash along the curb and gutter. For obvious reasons, put away toys, bicycles and other stuff every night. Get rid of old vehicles sitting in the driveway! Either fix them and use or sell them, or else take them to the recycling place and get some money out of them. Tidying up the yard—both front and back—will make your home more attractive and safe, and it will make the neighborhood look better, as well. If you ever want to sell your home, a buyer’s first impression—curb appeal—will be a powerful drawing card and may get you top dollar for your home.

Maintenance

 

Maintenance will cost something; however, doing no maintenance will be much more expensive. Performing maintenance yourself will cut costs and help you develop the skills for long-term services on your own home. Painting the interior of your home, for example, requires the purchase of paint rollers trays, tarps and other equipment; however, you will save thousands of dollars on hiring the job out. Major hardware stores can answer any questions about home maintenance projects, and they offer classes for customers who want to install tile and other such jobs. Once you have the skill, you can apply it to other areas in the home.

When you are serious about buying a home, have a reliable building inspector come and examine the house. He should check the foundation and other structural issues, the plumbing, heating/cooling and electrical systems, roof, etc. He will probably charge you around $300, but he can warn you about potential problems, or else assure you that the home is sound. His fee is a small price to pay for your awareness of the home’s condition.

Do not hesitate to hire a professional once a year to check the furnace to make sure it is working properly and doesn’t pose any dangers to the home’s occupants. An old or malfunctioning furnace can be life threatening, and it’s worth the investment to have an expert find and take care of potential problems. Make sure you invest in contents insurance to make sure your valuables are protected from any unforeseen disaster.

The best thing about having a clean and well-maintained home, inside and outside, is that it also makes you feel good about yourself; you’re proud to live there. You are comfortable in having visitors come, and people are glad to have you as a neighbor. Moreover, you will save a lot of money by learning home maintenance skills and doing the maintenance yourself.

About the Author: David Glenn is an expert in DIY home improvement techniques and interior design consulting. With his vast experience in the field, he hopes his writing can help people learn and save money through DIY projects.

 

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