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Dealing with Rodent Damaged Insulation in Seattle

Rats in the attic or crawl space are common problems Seattle homeowners know all too well. And as the cold Seattle winter sets in, these pesky critters are in search of a warm cozy place to nest. Don’t let rodents ruin your home. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about rodent damaged insulation and effective pest-control

Replace Vs. Refresh your Rodent Damaged Insulation

In the wild, rodents, be it mice or rats, will seek soft fibers for their nests. And unfortunately, insulation found within our crawl spaces, walls, and attics appear to be their favorite nesting material. As a result, rats and mice can damage the insulation in your home by either collecting insulation fibers for a nest elsewhere or directly making a nest within the insulation itself. 

Effective Rodent Control: Crawl Space and Attic Hygiene

In the wild, rodents, be it mice or rats, will seek soft fibers for their nests. And unfortunately, insulation found within our crawl spaces, walls, and attics appear to be their favorite nesting material. As a result, rats and mice can damage the insulation in your home by either collecting insulation fibers for a nest elsewhere or directly making a nest within the insulation itself. These can gradually lead to long-term problems which can affect both your home and health.

Effective rodent control in your Seattle home is essential when it comes to preventing the spread of disease. The feces and urine produced by rodents accumulate over time, leading to an increased risk of spreading zoonotic diseases. According to the CDC rat infestation guide, rats and mice in Washington spread diseases (viral and bacterial) directly and indirectly. Some of these zoonotic diseases include:

  • Leptospirosis: which spreads through urine and waterways.
  • Hantavirus: is a virus that spreads through rodent urine and feces.
  • Salmonella: A bacteria that spread via the fecal-oral route.
  • Rat-Bite Fever: A bacterial disease that spreads through bites and scratches caused by rats. It can also spread through the oral-fecal route (i.e., consuming food or water contaminated by rats).

Do You Need to Replace Insulation After a Rodent Infestation?

replacing rodent damaged insulation in crawl space, Washington

Rats have damaged the insulation in your beautiful Seattle home. What do you do? Replace, refresh, or remove? We completely understand that removing and replacing insulation from your crawl space and attic is time-consuming and extremely expensive. 

If the damage to the insulation is minimal, then our team at Park Eco Pest Control will choose to refresh the existing insulation material. Now, refreshing existing insulation simply entails that only sections (damaged) insulation are replaced. We only ever completely replace insulation from a crawl space or attic when the damage caused by rodents is extensive due to long-term uncontrolled rodent destruction, or if you’d like to increase the energy efficiency of your home.

How to Keep Rodents Out of Insulation in Seattle

Keeping rodents out of your crawl space, attic, and insulation will require some time and effort. And since these pesky critters pose a risk to human health, we recommend reaching out to a professional pest control service in Seattle for an initial first clean.

When it comes to cleaning and refreshing your damaged insulation, our team at Parker Eco Pest Control will:

  1. Locate and seal up any holes, burrows, vents, and gaps that allow rats and mice to enter your crawl space.
  2. Do some dirty work and safely remove all dead rats and mice from your crawl space or attic. We will even humanely remove any active nest sites present in your attic or crawl space. 
  3. Our Seattle pest-control team will most importantly remove and dispose of all rat feces and droppings present in the attic or crawl space.
  4. Sanitize and disinfect the entire area with an eco-friendly, enzyme-based product that actually eats the organic material left by feces and urine. It leaves behind water and CO2 as an odorless, harmless bi-product. 
  5. Replace the vapor barrier in your crawl space if it’s damaged. 
  6. Finally, depending on the degree of damage and contamination, we will either refresh or replace the insulation.

Attic and Crawl Space Cleaning by Parker Eco Pest Control

rodent control services in seattle

Winter is on its way, and so are the rats! Getting a good rodent control regime is crucial in preventing rats and mice from damaging your insulation. Parker Eco Pest Control provides excellent and professional pest control services all the way from Seattle through to Marysville. So, talk to us today about rodent pest control and crawl space cleaning in Seattle. 

Barn Owl Box: The Natural Rat Repellent in Seattle

Are you looking for natural rodent control methods? Well, let us introduce you to the power of the barn owl nest box. Keeping rats and mice out of your home and garden can be an incredibly tedious task. Often we find that rat control options such as rat bait aka rodenticides, only provide short-term control of rodents, not to mention that the toxic substances are incredibly cruel. But, what if we told you there’s a better way to keep the rodent population in your area at bay? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about barn owl boxes as natural rodent control. 

Here’s Why You Need a Barn Owl Nest Box 

Barn owls are exceptional predators that often go unappreciated. These deadly hunters possess powerful vision and hearing, which allow them to track and kill prey quickly. But, perhaps the greatest feature of this predator is its appetite for rodents. Yes, that’s right! Barn owls love rats and mice, and in fact, in a single nesting season, a pair of barn owls can consume up to 30,000 rats.

Installing your Barn Owl Nest at Home

Installing a barn owl box for rodent control in Seattle home

For this natural rodent control method to work, you’ll need to make the nest box appealing to the barn owls. This might be a particularly tedious task if you live in a busy Seattle suburb. So, here are our top tips to consider when installing a barn owl nest in your backyard.

  1. A Good-Sized Nest Box: Barn owls require adequate space to nest and grow their young. We recommend creating a nest box that is anywhere from 10 to 15 cubic feet. Entry holes into the nest box should be a minimum of 6 inches. 
  2. Keep it Attractive: Adding straw and untreated natural fibers in the box will encourage barn owls to begin nesting.
  3. The Right Placement: Barn owls prefer to hunt rodents in big grassy open fields. As such, we recommend installing your barn owl nesting box with the opening facing a wide open space. An ideal position protects the entry hole from the wind while offering a great view of prey.
  4. High Above: In the wild, barn owls nest high up on buildings, trees, or mountain cliffs. So, make sure to place your nest box at least 10 feet above the ground. 

Don’t want to build a barn owl box yourself? Don’t worry we sell the perfect pre-made barn owl boxes that are sure to attract some owls to your property. Make sure you reach out to us to learn more!

Do Fake Owls Keep Rats Away?

Yes! Installing fake owls around your property can act as a great rat repellent. It’s a great little trick that works similarly as a scarecrow on a field, although they do become less effective over time as rats outsmart the decoy. That being said, it’s not the best natural rodent control method as it does not reduce the rodent population on your property like a real owl would. 

3 Reasons for Humane Pest Control

Installing a barn owl nest box isn’t the only way to control your rodent problem. If you’re interested in learning more about natural rodent control methods in Seattle, check out our top tips

  1. Rodenticides kill animals slowly. Did you know that rat bait kills rodents slowly? These poisons result in coagulopathies, which means that the animal will die slowly from uncontrollable bleeding. 
  2. Rodenticides can harm your pets and owls: Rat bait toxicity is a common problem seen in companion animal medicine. It often occurs due to a dog or cat eating either the rat bait directly or eating way too many mice that have consumed rat bait. Wild animals like our American barn owl can also die from rat bait toxicity when they consume large amounts of poisoned rats or mice. So, keep your pets and wildlife safe by avoiding rodenticides. 
  3. Barn owls provide better long-term control: Barn owls that nest in your nest box will continue to nest on your property each season. It’s a great way to reduce the overall rodent population on your property and acts as a long-term rodent repellent. 

Parker Eco Pest Control: Natural Rodent Control in Seattle 

Controlling those pesky rodents is tricky! But, you don’t have to do it alone. At Parker Eco Pest Control, we proudly support customers who choose natural rodent control methods. We can help you create and install the perfect American barn owl nest box, so you don’t have to worry about getting the niggly details right. Correctly installing a nest box to suit the barn owls’ natural behavior is critical to ensure adequate rodent control. So, reach out to us today to learn more about finding and installing barn owl boxes for pest control in Seattle. 

Look who’s on This Old House!

Do you own a fixer-upper? Are you a die-hard DIYer? If so, you probably know and love This Old House almost as much as Wesley Parker, owner of Parker Eco Pest Control. She recalls waking up on Saturday mornings as a kid to watch This Old House with her Dad. Now as a homeowner herself, she and her husband Chris do a lot their owner DIY projects on their 1905 American Foursquare house.

So you can imagine how excited the Parkers were to see Parker Eco Pest Control recently featured in a This Old House article on the Best Pest Control Companies in Seattle.

This Old House has evolved quite a bit since the 1990s. Their website has how-to guides for everything A-Z including attics to yards and loads in between. They have information on common things like how to replace a bathroom faucet or how to level a floor to, the more obscure, like How to Drill into Brick.

If you can imagine your next project, the This Old House website is a great resource will probably have the information (videos or articles) to help you get it done! There are even whole sections dedicated to subjects like Home Office, Patios and Organization and Storage; things that many people are focused on and were very popular during the COVID pandemic.

By far our favorite feature on their website is the Project House and Idea House tabs. There are way too many distinctive and unique houses to pick a single favorite. Each “Idea House” is modeled after a specific style that give ideas on bringing the look to life in your own home.

Should I remove insulation from my crawl space?

Deciding whether or not to re-insulate your crawl space after a rodent problem depends on a few factors. Dirt crawl spaces are incredibly common in Seattle and it’s estimated that 40% of new construction in the area still relies on this type of foundation (per the NAHB, 2013).  Crawl spaces make accessing your plumbing and wiring for repairs simple and they’re ideal for Seattle’s hilly terrain. These benefits aside, they are extremely vulnerable to rodent problems.

When to leave a crawl space un-insulated

  • If rodents are tunneling into the crawl space (as opposed to chewing in).
  • If your crawl space lacks a permanent rodent barrier such as a rat slab, trench and screen, or rodent-proofed joists to protect insulation (keep reading for more info).

Don’t spend money on new insulation only to have another infestation next winter!

When to re-insulate a crawl space

  • If rodents are chewing into the crawl space and you’ve done a good job sealing off the entry points you could gamble with re-insulating. They may begin tunneling sometime in the future so this is still a calculated risk.
  • If you invest in permanent rodent barrier like a rat slab, trench and screen, or rodent-proofed joists to protect insulation you’ll have peace of mind that your insulation and your living space is safe for the long haul.

What is a permanent rodent barrier?

Exactly what it sounds like! There are three main long term solutions for protecting a dirt crawlspace from rodents:

Rodent-proofing insulation with wire mesh

Traditional fiberglass insulation is by far the most common type we find in crawl spaces. It is also a perfect place for rodents to nest. Protect your new or existing insulation from nesting by installing galvanized steel mesh to the underside of your joists. You’ll get end-to-end protection for your insulation and your living space if a rodent tunnels back into the crawl space.

Rodent proof insulation diagram

Trench and screen

To install a trench and screen the soil around your foundation is dug away and galvanized steel mesh is buried against the house to prevent animals from burrowing into the crawl space.

trench and screen digram to block rats

Rat slab

A rat slab is a non-structural layer of concrete that completely seals the dirt floor of your crawl space off from tunneling.

Rat slab diagram
Diagram courtesy of energy.gov

Are rodents chewing or tunneling into the crawl space?

We find that rodents are most likely to access a crawl space by chewing a hole or pushing their way in through a vent. Builder-grade crawl space vents use flimsy mesh that doesn’t stand up to a determined rat. Rodents are also incredible chewers since their teeth grow constantly. They will find a small gap around a gas line and gnaw the opening until they can squeeze through. Sealing off openings and setting poison-free traps are your go-to solution.

Tunneling into the crawl space is also very common. Norway rats are aggressive diggers and they will burrow under the side of the house and pop up in the crawlspace. You’ll need a permanent rodent barrier to stop them from entering once and for all.

Need some help with a rodent issue at your house? Give us a call or book an inspection online!

Mice or rodents in the attic? Your roof needs drip edge flashing

One of the most common ways for rodents to enter an attic is through a gap between the shingles and the gutter. Gaps like this are extremely common in Washington State due to a quark in the residential building code. This gap, sometimes called a carpenter’s gap or construction gap, can be sealed off using a piece of metal flashing called a drip edge. This piece of metal is also known as gutter flashing or rake edge flashing.

How to check for drip edge flashing

If you’re stumped on how mice, rats, birds, or squirrels are getting into your attic, we highly recommend looking at the exterior of the roof line. If you have a hipped roof (shaped like a pyramid) you should check the entire perimeter. If you have a gabled roof you likely only need to check the two sides with gutters.

Slide your hand to the back of the gutter where it’s secured against the house. If you can fit your hand under the shingles it’s big enough for a rat to squeeze through. Remember, rats only need a gap the size of a quarter and mice only need a gap the size of a dime. Rodents usually leave signs on the areas they frequent the most. Look for chewing, greasy smears called rub marks, and of course droppings.

Drip edge wasn’t in Washington code until 2015

Washington State residential code only began requiring drip edge in 2015, meaning If your home was built in 2014 or earlier, there is a good chance you have a large gap running continuously around the perimeter of your roof. You can read the code yourself online.

Should you install drip edge flashing to seal the attic from rodents?

Yes, you should definitely install a drip edge (AKA gutter flashing) to seal out mice, rats, squirrels and birds. At a cost of $10 to $20 per foot installed, it’s fairly inexpensive and will save you money down the line compared to the cost of damage from an infestation.  

In addition to blocking pests, drip edge flashing protects your house from wind and water dripping behind the shingles, hence the name “drip edge.” It’s a wise investment for any roof.

Yes—We’re still open!

Parker Eco Pest Control is open during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll update this website if anything changes. We’re keeping regular hours Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm. You can make an appointment by calling 800-326-1698 or booking online. We expect to stay open for the foreseeable future.

We cannot overstate how much we appreciate your business. Our small team supports 8 households and keeping everyone employed is vital.

Increasing protective equipment

We will approach your home or business wearing a face mask and gloves.

Wesley Parker is ready for appointments!

Practicing social distance

Our technicians will not shake your hand. We understand that you may wish to follow us around your property, particularly during an inspection, but we ask that you please stay 6 feet away from us at all times.

Collecting no-touch payments

As part of social distancing we are no longer asking you to write your signature on our iPhones. We’re collecting credit card info by asking you to read the card number to us so we can hand-key the information into the processing system. We will write your signature on your behalf and issue a receipt via email.

Focusing on exterior service

Even during regular operations we don’t always treat the interior of the home for insect or rodent activity. We will continue this practice and treat rodent and insect problems from the exterior as often as possible.

As an eco-friendly pest control company we pride ourselves on thorough inspections. As part of social distancing we might ask you to report on pest activity inside your house so we don’t have to go inside. For example, we might ask you to check under your kitchen sink for ants instead of looking first-hand. If we do enter your home please stay 6 ft away from us.

Need to hire a pro? Meet Fresh Chalk

Parker Eco Pest Control recently discovered Fresh Chalk, a cool new platform for finding professional services in the Seattle area. If you need a handyman, dentist, or a barber, this is the place to go.

Fresh Chalk operates differently than other review platforms since they focus on recommendations from people in your social network. Their model tries to replicate word of mouth recommendations in the digital age.  

We found out about Fresh Chalk when a client recommended us on the platform. Since our business thrives on reviews, we were immediately intrigued. After doing some digging, we learned that they are local, women-led, and committed to transparency. That puts them miles ahead in our book!

Oh yeah…and people love us there

Parker Eco Pest Control reviews on Fresh Chalk

So we encourage you to check out the platform, make some honest recommendations, and see what Fresh Chalk holds for you. And hey…why not give Parker Eco Pest Control a thumbs up while you’re there?

Our 15 minutes of fame on HiHo Kids TV

Ever wondered what kids think about pest control? HiHo Kids set out to answer that question on a segment of “Kids Meet A…”. They gather people from all walks of life to answer the random, silly and downright bizarre questions that can only come from kids. Owner Chris Parker spent a few hours in the studio talking about bed bugs, squishing spiders, and protecting bees.

Behind the scenes

As it turns out, filming is hard work! The shoot took about 4 hours and resulted in just 4 minutes of footage. We have to give the HiHo Kids production team serious credit for weaving it all together.

Chris and the kids played with an apiary suit

In just two weeks the episode has been seen over 100,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. We owe HiHo Kids a HUGE thank you for involving us in this fun opportunity!

Ant control cost calculator: Apartments, condos, HOAs

Figuring out how much ant control costs for an apartment, condo, or homeowner’s association shouldn’t be hard. While it’s impossible to provide a firm bid without seeing the property, we’ve decided to share our basic quote formula with the world.

How to use the ant control cost calculator

Ongoing service or one-time treatment?

Some ants are polygenic, meaning they have multiple nests. It can be extremely difficult to solve an ant issue in a single visit to a multi-family building. We offer that option because it’s possible…but to be honest we usually require at least 2 visits. The first visit is the most expensive and takes the longest. Follow up visits are faster, easier, and less expensive. If your building gets ants every year it is probably less expensive and less of a pain to set up regular visits throughout the year. Deferring treatment can actually be more expensive than regular maintenance because we will charge more to get the issue back under control.

Treat all units, or only some?

Most pest control companies charge “by the door” or unit and assume that all units of a property should be treated. We believe that over applying pesticides is wasteful and potentially harmful. We’ll inspect all the units and advise which should be treated. You will be charged per unit, per visit. For example, we might treat 10 units on the first visit and only 5 on the next visit, saving you money.

Why use “ground floor” square footage?

We apply a perimeter spray around the exterior of the building’s ground floor
— basically anywhere that touches ground and ants can enter. It takes less time and fewer materials to apply a perimeter spray around a tall skinny building than a short and squat building.

Perimeter size matters for condos and apartments

Other factors that impact ant control cost

This calculator is a great starting point but it is not fool proof. Other factors that impact cost are:

  • Your location. Some areas like Ballard are ant hotbeds. That entire neighborhood is basically one giant ant nest and you will almost certainly need ongoing service.
  • The size and location of the ant nests. Ant nests outside the building are much easier to treat than nests inside the walls or foundation.
  • Cleanliness of the residents. As an apartment manager or HOA it can be frustrating when one unit or resident is the source of the issue. If they aren’t willing or able to put food in air-tight canisters and keep the apartment clean, you will have ongoing issues.

Are condos, apartments and HOAs priced the same?

Generally yes. We don’t distinguish between who owns the property or how it is managed when setting prices. One exception might be a property manager who has multiple buildings and is seeking bulk pricing on multiple properties.

Checking your log home for rodents

Log homes are beautiful and unique structures that come with unusual maintenance challenges. Four generations of the Parker family have enjoyed a log home on the Washington peninsula and we’ve learned that proper maintenance is key. Log homes are often more susceptible to rodents, crawling insects, and wood destroying organisms, especially when they are used as vacation homes instead of a primary residence. Today we’re doing a deep dive on the scariest threat to your log home and your family’s health – rodents.

Looking for rodent activity

With the risk of transmitting Hantavirus, rodents are the most dangerous log home pest you might face. They can enter the home at any time, but the highest risk for activity is when the home has been sitting vacant over the winter. Mice and rats are driven inside by the cold weather and can gather in large numbers if humans aren’t around to kick them out. If you are opening the home for the season follow these steps to inspect for rodents:

  • Follow your nose. If you open the home and smell urine, you’ve definitely got a rodent issue. If it seems pee-free then continue down this list and conduct a deeper search.
  • Look for droppings in the kitchen and closets. Mice love tight spaces with food and bedding. Check the corners of drawers, the bottom shelf of the cabinets, and anywhere else that is dark and secluded.
  • Check for nests. As with droppings, closets are a favorite spot for rodents to gather fluffy material and make nests.  Some less obvious nesting locations are inside of furniture such as the underside of a couch, inside of mattresses and pillows, and tucked away in heating ducts.
  • Identify rub marks. Mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Sometimes its tough for humans to find these tiny holes. Lucky for us, mice are creatures of habit, meaning they use the same “roads” often. The little highway across your kitchen window sill can get stained with rub marks as the mice shuffle along the wall and around corners. These dark, greasy smudges are a classic sign of an infestation.

Mouse poop and Hantavirus

If you find evidence of rodent activity you should assume that the droppings contain Hantavirus and follow safety precautions. Hantavirus is carried by deer mice and is fatal to 36% of people who catch it. Sadly there is no way to know what type of mice were in your home. Even if you find a house mouse carcass you can’t guarantee there were not also deer mice present.

The key to cleaning up safely is NOT breathing in particles. Spray everything down with a water/bleach mixture since damp particles won’t circulate as freely as dry ones. Wear a mask and gloves. Bag all the rags and throw them out. Do not vacuum or sweep since it stirs up dry particles.

Sealing holes and trapping

How to get rid of Mice Naturally
Download our free ebook “How to get rid of mice naturally”

The last step is preventing mice from entering your home moving forward. We recommend our free eBook, The Complete Guide: How to Get Rid of Mice NaturallyIt’s packed with tips for sealing holes, everything you need to know about traps, and lots of photos for the DIYer in all of us.

One aspect of mouse control that is specific to log homes and not covered in the eBook is chinking. Gaps in chinking are an extremely common method of entry for mice. Be sure to visually inspect your chinking from the interior and exterior, preferably on a ladder. Given the rounded shape of a log it can be difficult to see gaps from the ground.

Wondering how mice fit through the chinking? Check out this experiment:

Preventing rodents

The two best things you can do to prevent rats and mice are 1) Keeping up with all recommended maintenance and 2)Living on the property year round.

Log home maintenance can be a DIY affair for the brave at heart but some jobs require an expert. The Parkers use Madrona Log Homes for log home maintenance because they’re dependable, local, and use eco-friendly materials. Who knew walnut blasting was so cool to watch?  Tell the owner Travis that we sent you!

The second recommendation is often impractical for home owners. But if someone is living in the home it’s very easy to spot problems and head them off early. You’re unlikely to develop a large deer mouse infestation if there is constant human oversight.

Feel free to call or email us if you have additional questions about keeping your log home pest-free.

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