Healthy Living: Tips for Pest-Proofing Your Home

A pest infestation may cause health issues for homeowners, their pets and working farm animals. There are a number of pests, including the house mouse, that can cause damage and be a vector of disease in and near homes and farms. The contamination of food sources may lead to a number of problems and can result from a rodent or other common pest issue. Homeowners and property owners in rural America do have a variety of approaches they may want to consider in order to prevent a pest problem.

Health and Rodent Infestations

There are a range of health concerns that creep up when pests have decided to reside and multiply on a property. This depends much on the type of household pests common to the area. After identifying the pest, a homeowner or farmer can then decide on how to best remediate the issue. However, generally the cheapest way to address a potential pest problem is through prevention.

When it comes to rodents and the house mouse, one needs to be concerned about food contamination for humans and feed contamination for working animals. House mice can easily contaminate food with their feces and individuals may develop salmonellosis. In addition to this health concern, rodents need to chew and these active rodents will gnaw threw electrical wires and more on a property. Prevention for the house mouse includes sanitation and mouse proof construction. Homeowners want to practice good sanitation to reduce the likelihood that pests will want to live on a property. It is important to eliminate areas which can serve as shelter and eliminate potential opening that may offer an entrance. It is important to mouse-proof areas where food may be stored, used or processed. Glass jars and metal canisters are recommended for the storage of meat products and dried grain.

Homeowners should look to seal small openings. A caulking compound mixed with steel wool can serve as an effective plug. Pests are often attracted to moisture. This makes it necessary to seal opening and cracks in building foundations or around water pipes and vents. Materials used are often concrete or metal. Metal is an effective barrier against gnawing. Wood, rubber and plastic sheeting would not be helpful in warding off rodents.

HVAC Systems and Pests

Raccoons and other pests may get into a poorly-maintained HVAC system. A pest problem can result in air quality issues, such as undesirable odors and the spreading of pesticides when used to address an existing pest issue. Human health issues can include irritation to the mucous membranes and increase the risk of developing cancer (pesticides), trigger the flare-up of allergy symptoms, and exacerbate respiratory problems.

As with the exterior of structures when it came to house mice, it is necessary to address cracks and gaps in the duct system and around the home. It may be useful to professionally install vent and flue covers to prevent the entrance of small pests. Remains of pests can interfere with the proper function of an HVAC system and combustion products may go back into a home. Protective screens and vent covers can help avoid such an issue.

What Property Owners Can Do

Regular maintenance of the property and the removal of any debris can reduce the potential for vermin to gain access into a home or building. Clean around the condenser of the HVAC system, remove excrement and reduce undesirable vegetation. The use of a pet repellant on the outside of a unit may help deter animals from the area. The repellant is a natural alternative to chemical pest treatments.


Source: Guest author, Kris Lindahl, of RE/MAX Results. Article submitted to the Rural Health Initiative on
April 6, 2018.