Avoid Pest and Fungus Problems – Part I

When properties go on the market, one of the most common inspections is the pest and fungus inspection. Most buildings, even new ones, have some reportable problems. Here’s why: pest and fungus reports include two types of findings—problems and potential problems.

Section 1 includes evidence of pests and/or fungus including mold, dry rot, termites, carpenter bees, powder post beetles and more. Section 2 includes issues that could (and probably will) ultimately lead to damage. For example, earth-to-wood contact outside that termites haven’t discovered as a convenient entry point, but they most likely will. As you might imagine, it is less expensive to fix earth-to-wood with about 30-minutes worth of shoveling, than it is to replace termite-infested walls.

Even if you don’t plan to sell your house or commercial building, avoiding pest and fungus problems is essential to protect your investment, and generally inexpensive. Here are some suggestions on how to do so.

  1. Roof. Replace worn roof tiles or shingles, and make sure there’s a good seal around any roof penetrations (i.e., pipes or skylights or anything else that comes through the roof). If moss develops, remove it because it will lead to faster deterioration of the roofing material.
  2. Gutters and downspouts. Clear any debris blocking the flow of water and be sure gutters and downspouts are securely affixed to the house and each other. Replace rusted or cracked areas.
  3. Water flow. Make sure water doesn’t pool around (or under) the house; water should flow away from the home, even during heavy rains. Some people have sump pumps to keep things dry under their houses.
  4. Home exterior. Make sure attic vents and subfloor screens are unobstructed to allow for good airflow, and make sure they are properly affixed so varmints don’t make a home under your house. Check siding for signs of cracking or splitting, and consider another coat of paint if this is common. It can be significantly less expensive to paint the exterior of your home the year before it really needs it, as compared to letting it go an extra year or two when the paint has begun to peel or check (little lines appearing in the pain) and certainly before the siding has begun to deteriorate.
  5. Landscaping. Be sure irrigation systems aren’t leaking, as evidenced by an emerald green patch on an otherwise brown lawn or a skyrocketing water bill. Also make sure hose bibs don’t drip and soak the foundation. Keep trees and bushes trimmed away from the house (and don’t stack firewood so it touches the house).
  6. Doors and windows. Make sure doors and windows are weather-tight and have no broken seals. This will save money on your heating and air conditioning bills as well as keeping water out.
  7. Termite tubes. Termites really don’t like sunny, dry places. They tend to travel in dark, little tunnels of their own making. If you see small, raised mounds on the walls around the bottom of your house, call a pest exterminator immediately.

Next week I’ll share more tips on how to protect your home against pest and fungus problems. The main thing to remember is that any damp, dark place can invite unwanted pests and/or mold. Make sure your house has good air flow in both the attic and under the house, and no water leaks.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.