Avoid Pest and Fungus Problems – Part II

Last week, I reviewed several tips to avoid pest and fungus problems. This week, I’ll provide several more. As a reminder, when it’s time to sell your residential or commercial property, you’ll need a pest and fungus inspection.
The pest and fungus report outlines both problems and prospective problems, so while you may not have a pest problem now, the report will include conditions that could lead to one. If the lender becomes aware of the problems, the problems will have to be addressed before the close of escrow. Common problems include termites that need to be exterminated or rotted wood that needs to be replaced. Prospective problems should also be addressed, but they are more often a negotiation point for buyers and sellers. Prospective problems include things like a new leak under the bathroom sink that has not caused dry rot yet, but it will. As you can imagine, it is far cheaper to repair a leaky p-trap than to replace a whole bathroom vanity—in the ballpark of $50 versus $1500.
Even if you don’t plan to sell your house or commercial building, avoiding pest and fungus problems is essential to protect your investment. Here are some suggestions on how to do so.
1. Look for evidence of unwelcome guests. Termites create raised mounds, often found along cracks in the foundation. Woodpeckers leave holes in your siding or eaves. Carpenter ants and powder post beetles leave little piles of sawdust. Perfectly round ½-inch holes may mean you have carpenter bees. If you have any of these, seriously consider calling an exterminator.
2. Avoid dampness. If you have poor airflow in or around your house, you could be inviting mold to develop. If your bathrooms do not have a window to the exterior you can open, then they should have a fan. Be sure the exhaust vent is unblocked and exhausts to the outside not the attic, and that family members use the fan. In other rooms watch for condensation, especially behind furniture that rests against outside walls.
3. Inspect appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators with ice makers, washing machines, and water heaters should all be inspected regularly, especially if your water bill jumps unexpectedly. These appliances can leak in areas that make them hard to detect, so listen carefully, look for wet spots, and trust your nose if something smells like mildew. To avoid a watery mess, replace washing machine hoses every five years, whether they appear worn or not.
4. Bathrooms. Bathrooms have several potential problem spots. Faucets and pipes can leak. Toilets can leak and they are connected to the wastewater system through a wax ring that can deteriorate. If the wax ring loses its seal, the subfloor can get wet. Look for discoloration on the floor around the toilet and pay attention to mildewy smells. Water can also get into the subfloor if there’s not a good seal between the shower or tub and the linoleum or tile. While it would be great not to have to deal with issues like these, I promise ignoring them doesn’t make repairs less expensive.
If you happen to own an investment property and you serve as landlord and property manager, here’s an important bit of news: if you are fighting pests with insecticides, new neighbor notification laws just went into effect. If you use RAID or ant traps or even a soap-based detergent to prevent bugs from infesting your property, you now need to share this information with your tenants and neighbors within a prescribed amount of time. There are several required forms and choosing the right one for each situation requires a little homework. While there are no pesticide police, keep your residents happy and protected by providing the appropriate notices.
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.