House hunting can be stressful as it is without the worry that there may be a pest infestation present. Is the roof leaky? Are there any electrical problems? How is the insulation? These are all common questions that can run through a potential buyer or renter’s mind.
Whether or not there might be a pest problem in a home you are interested in may be the last thing on your mind; or maybe you just don’t know what to look for. The truth is, pests are very good at hiding, but there are many signs you can look for that could signify a larger problem or infestation.
Here is a list of 15 red flags to look for when renting or buying a home:
- Active pests: This might be quite obvious, but it is very important not to forget. Do some research, and learn to identify different pests in order to understand what type of infestation might be present. Pests are very good at hiding, so be sure to look in places like the kitchen and bathroom, or outdoors under leaves and rocks.
- Dead bugs indoors: Check window ledges and basements for dead bugs. If there are many bugs of the same species, they probably live on the property.
- Pest droppings: This is classic evidence that a pest infestation may be present. As gross as it may sound, it can benefit you to research what different pest droppings look like, so you can identify what type of pest you may be dealing with. Be sure to also search for roach egg cases and signs of bed bugs.
- Evidence of nesting: Rats and mice will make nests out of whatever they have available to them. Using a flashlight, search all the nooks and crannies, including behind appliances in the kitchen and inside cabinets, for red flags such as shredded paper that might be used for nesting.
- Pest control products: Check under sinks and in the garage for large quantities of pesticides. If you find numerous partially-used bottles, there is a chance that the previous homeowner or renter was attempting to deal with a pest infestation.
- Odd smells and sounds: There are certain recognizable smells that pests give off. Experts claim that bed bugs have a sweet, musty odor. Mice tend to give off a musty, urine smell, and rats smell like ammonia. Roaches have been said to have an “oily” odor comparable to “fecal soy sauce”. I don’t even want to know what that smells like! The smell of garbage is also a bad sign, because it can attract more pests It is equally important to keep an ear out for the pattering of rodents’ feet. Rats and mice love to hide under floorboards or behind walls. You might often hear scratching on the walls, gnawing, squeaking, or scurrying. Larger bugs might also be heard if you listen closely.
- Holes and gnaw marks: Small holes in the walls and floors, or holes in or around the property are a giveaway of a possible infestation. Burrows in garbage areas and weedy areas near the property are also a bad sign. Rats love to gnaw on things, and finding little gnaw marks can be a sign of an infestation. Be on the lookout for chewed-up electrical wires, and other things that rats might have destroyed.
- Grease marks and tracks: Rats and mice tend to travel the same paths every day, and can leave evidence and tracks along the way. Rats run along the walls, and can leave dark grease marks. Fecal droppings, urine trails, and footprints through dust paths may also be seen as a sign of a possible infestation.
- Signs of termites: This is an important thing to be aware of, because termites are extremely destructive pests that dine on wood, causing structural damage to a building. These pests can eat your wooden furniture as well, and create unsafe conditions for you to live in. Check the wood in the potential home or rental unit for signs of termite damage. This includes visible holes or sagging floors, and wood that sounds hollow when tapped. Shed wings of termites, or fecal pellets that are tan and resemble sawdust may be signs of an infestation.
- Complaints from former tenants/owners or neighbors: If possible, contact the former owners or tenants to ask about the history of any pest problems. You can also try asking the neighbors if they have ever experienced problems that might affect your property.
- Nearby breeding grounds: Note if the building is adjacent to an unkept alley with garbage piling up. Also, look for electrical wires hanging in unenclosed areas, as rats and mice love to gnaw on them. Rodents also love to dwell around water and gas pipes. If the property is near a pond, lake, or other stagnant water, this might present a mosquito problem in the warmer months.
- Damaged plants: Look for insect trails or gnawing on the edges of grass blades and any garden plants. Check the edges of the leaves of any perennials present.
- Damaged patches: Patterns of lawn damage, such as uneven grass length or large circular brown areas, may be a sign of a pest infestation.
- Mole holes: Moles eat insects and grubs, which tend to dwell in grass. When moles are in the grass eating insects, they tear up your lawn in the process.
Look for raised ridges traveling across the lawn, accompanied by piles of dirt that look like a mini volcano.
- Ant hills: Check along fence lines and in pavement cracks for piles of coarse grained dirt with a small hole on top. You can often see ants traveling in and out of the hill.
If you are experiencing an infestation you cannot control, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.