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Why are Pests getting into my Basement?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, November 15, 2019

In this episode, A1 Crack's Adam Tracy explains how critters are getting in basements and what can be done about it.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. We’re here with the Crackman himself, Rich Comeras. Rich has 30 years of experience in the construction industry and over 20 years experience as the President and founder of A1 Foundation and Crack Repair Inc. His podcasts provides expert basement water proofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration within the basement, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic for today’s podcast: Why are Pests getting into my Basement?

Narrator: Today we’re joined again by Adam Tracy. Now Adam, nobody wants to think of their house, or their home, or their basement as a habitat for critters. How are they finding their way into the house?

Adam: Well, this time of year we get a lot of phone calls from homeowners where they see a lot of pests coming in and out of their foundation and into their basement areas. Part of the reason why this happens is because as the days get shorter and the temperature start varying a little bit more. It’s a signal to all those little critters that “Hey it’s time to hunker down, winter’s coming here.” And they try to find a place that’s a nice temperature controlled environment, and when you’re below grade it’s a little bit easier to maintain a temperature whether you’re a snake, a rodent, or a bug. So, they try to find anything that they can to get in there. Now when we’re looking in these foundations, there’s obviously 3 types of foundations that we’re looking at: we have our stone foundations, and then our block, and our poured concrete foundations. Now the stone foundations, we get the most calls for rodent infiltration. Now we’re not a pest control company, but a lot of pest control companies will set up traps and will be happy to eradicate whatever comes in. But part of it is the prevention of this, and when they’re trying to come into the foundation, the obvious place is any holes or gaps in your foundation wall where the stone foundation is held together by the mortar. Now any of the breakdown in the mortar can allow a highway of rodents and snakes to come in there. Just yesterday we had an issue with snakes coming into a woman’s basement. And we were able to get out there and resolve that issue by basically going in and taking out the old mortar that’s starting to deteriorate and crumble, and then re-packing it with a new mortar to prevent anything from coming from the outside into the inside. So, it’s really about a preventative maintenance portion of it, while also hoping the integrity of your walls stay fresh for years to come.

Narrator: So, these stone foundations are basically just foundations made out of fieldstones, right? These big large stones, and then you put mortar in between them to hold them all together, and over time these things break down and that’s how they’re getting in. They’re getting in through the little holes, and cracks and stuff, right?

Adam: Exactly, yeah. These stone foundations can be hundreds of years old, even. And the mortar that was mixed in there was hand mixed by a mason many, many years ago, long removed from the workforce at this point. And as the stones move through the wintertime with freezing and thawing cycles, it breaks down the mortar joints in between there. For instance, a mouse only needs about the size of a quarter (and even smaller in some cases) to get into a foundation. So those little tiny gaps that don’t really seem like a big issue, once they’re able to get in there they can basically tunnel out a highway into your foundation, or stay in the nice cool feel, 50-60 degrees in the wintertime and it doesn’t really have a whole lot of snow, ice and rain to worry about so they kind of naturally find a space down there to call home for the winter.

Narrator: So, what do you do on the other types of foundations? You talked about the stone foundation, that was obvious just replacing the mortar but what about, like the concrete block foundations and the regular, just concrete foundations?

Adam: Sure, now these foundations are a little bit more of a solid surface type foundation, so it’s not like you have all these stones piled on top of each other, held together by the mortar. So, with the block foundation and the poured concrete foundation, we have to look at, basically flaws in the foundation. Whether there’s cracks anywhere, or a very susceptible area is between where the top of the foundation meets the underside of the house which is called the sill plate. So, when you have gaps in that area, you really have to pay attention to those spots because that’s again, a spot where small animals can find a way through. Now in terms of concrete foundations and block foundations, another thing that we have to worry about is a little bit of the smaller scale pest is we’re looking at termites and all those types of insects. When we have cracks in the foundation, that is a highway access for a pest to come from the outside to the inside. And if you have a wood boring insect like a termite, they only need about a 16th of an inch or even less in some cases to find their way from the inside to the outside. So they basically send out a little scout team to go find some wood to munch on, if they find a path from the outside to the inside, they signal to all their friends that, hey this is a highway access to some good food for the wintertime and then to be able to take shelter for a long period of time. So obviously repairing any foundation cracks prevents any sort of termite mitigation issues that you have to deal with.

Narrator: Yikes, and we all know what termites can do to our house, so obviously that’s something you want to get taken care of if you have any of those cracks, or holes, or anything like that. And if you’re a person that fancies yourself to be an environment for critters and things like that, I guess you can just ignore. But for the rest of us who want our homes to be free of mice and critters, and termites, and things like that, getting those holes fixed will be a good idea.

Narrator: Well, thanks again Adam for explaining how critters are getting into basements and what we can do about it. If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation repair and waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.


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