Every year, damage from pests costs Americans tons of money, not to mention the significant health hazards posed by these unwanted guests. The key to protecting your home is finding out what pests you need to worry about and taking proactive steps to keep them under control.
Tips For How to Keep the Critters Under Control
- Trim Back Trees – Prevent pests from using tree branches as a bridge to your home by cutting back any limbs that overhang or touch your roof.
- Eliminate Entry Points – Repair damaged screens, seal up exterior holes and fill hiding places, such as baseboards and cabinet edges.
- Maintain the Kitchen – Keep your kitchen and eating spaces clean and free of leftover food or crumbs. It's also a good idea to store food in sealed containers and secure garbage in locked bins away from the house.
- Gutters and Downspouts – Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris to eliminate a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Inspect Attics and Basements – Check attics, basements, garages and crawl spaces for signs of pests, including droppings, nesting materials and damage.
- Fix Leaks – Don't put off fixing minor leaks; destructive pests, like termites and carpenter ants, are attracted to rotting wood.
- Remove Nesting Sites – Regularly inspect your home and yard for signs of pests and promptly address any nesting sites you find.
There are also many additional things you can do, both inside and outside of your home, to prepare for cooler weather in the greater Atlanta area. While we normally do not have the weather extremes found in the north, we do have constant temperature fluctuations, and often experience chilly temperatures and ice. Here are some tips to keep warm.
As the temperature goes down, those lucky enough to have fireplaces need to ensure that the devices are cleaned and fully functioning to prevent problems down the line. If you haven't cleaned yours in a while, call a professional chimney sweep. There are also some new cleaning logs,, but keep in mind these are only to be used to burn off small amounts of creosote. Chances are that your fireplace has not been used for the majority of the year, so it’s a very good idea to check any and all open heating appliances using coal, oil, gas, or wood. You will want to make sure they’re clean and fully operational in order to prevent dangerous and unexpected fires or carbon monoxide from entering your home.
Speaking of carbon monoxide, homes need to be adequately equipped with carbon monoxide detectors as there are many home heating devices that may increase the risks of the toxin from doing harm. Homeowners are additionally advised not to burn coal in fireplaces or use kitchen stoves as heat sources as they can both produce the deadly gas.
The Space Heater
Annually space heaters should be inspected and treated for dust build-up and frayed wires. The devices should never be left on when no one is around to watch them. When in use, they need to be placed at least three feet away from furniture, bedding and drapes. They should be plugged directly into a grounded outlet and they should not be left on overnight.
Mow Your Leaves, Don't Rake Them
Mowing your leaves (rather than raking them) will provide an added benefit to your lawn. Mow over Dry leaves (without a bag, and ideally with a mulching blade) to create dime-sized pieces that will remain on the ground amidst the grass. Leave them there to decompose and continue to nourish your lawn over the winter months. Your lawn will thank you come springtime!
Snow can make a landscape look like a winter wonderland, however, not all tree branches can support the extra weight from the seasonal downfall. Tree trimming and removing branches that are precariously perched or dead should help downplay this risk.
Pruning can make trees and bushes healthier. With the leaves removed, you and better see what needs to be removed. Cut branches that are crisscrossing, and cut the ones that are rubbing on others.
Clean Your Gutters
Water needs a way out. As leaves drop in the fall, they will fill your gutters. Water that can’t escape will overflow and drop near your foundation, or perhaps rot your wood. Clean your gutters a few times this fall and winter, or call an insured professional to do the work for you. Be wary of the guys that knock on your door, they may not be insured, and may do more damage than good.
Put hoses away if it's late in the season, and make sure you turn off the supply to the spigot. This may help the pipes from freezing. As an alternative, place an insulated protective cover over your spigot. These can be purchased from your local hardware store.
Fall is a great time to be outside, and get some exercise. You can do both by raking leaves, cleaning out you flower beds and make sure your downspouts are clean and free of debris.