Oh Rats!

Oh Rats!

By Nathan Head

“” As an exterminator I have learned a thing or two about rats.  One, people hate them; two, they want them gone.   In writing this article I wanted to convey my personal experience as someone who has been dealing with these guys for a long time.  My first time running into a rat was when I was a kid.  I can remember walking down the stairs into my basement to deliver a load of dirty clothes to the hamper next to the washer.  As I walked along the floor and over the towels that were ready to be loaded into the washer I remember the sinking feeling I had when my bare foot stepped on something fuzzy and warm and made a screech.  “MOM! I stepped on something!” I screamed.  It was my mom who first introduced me to pest control when she explained to me that it was a rat.  To this day I still can remember almost everything about that encounter from the smell of the basement to the time of day it happened.  I am almost sure that you can relate if you have any experience close to mine. I have felt the stress, fear and hatred towards rats from the clients.   Now it’s my profession to deal with these unwanted house guests.

Here are some simple thoughts about rats that I would like to share with you.

  • With rats its nothing personal.
  • They are not trying to ruin your life or make you look bad, they are opportunists and will move in where they can.
  • With rats, one is enough.
  • Due to their high rate of breeding, dealing with an infestation early may save you lots $$$ in the long run.
  • With rats you don’t have to be rich or poor to have them.
  • It’s not a rich or poor related issue, it’s a location to rats issue.  If they are in your neighborhood then you may have to deal with them.
  • With rats it’s a food and shelter issue.

 

With the increased focus on urban farming our industry has seen a dramatic increase in the number of rats in and around homes that have the beloved urban chicken coop.  The chickens are not the problem.  It is the food they eat and scatter around that attracted the rats.  Bird feeders and squirrel feeders or not innocent either.

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Thank you for reading.

 

–Your friend in the Pest Control world “”

 

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“Unless you are able to see through floors, it’s hard to know what’s going on your crawlspace.  As one of my clients found out, the damp musty odor in her house was a problem that started months previous to her call to our company.  Rats had invaded her crawlspace to find a warm inviting home with a great nesting place.  Her call to me was in reaction to a decaying dead rat in the crawl space.  We were able to exterminate the rat population, restore the crawlspace back to a sanitary, healthy part of her home and maintain the aftercare through scheduled follow-ups to essentially keep her home on lock down. NO RATS = HAPPY HEALTHY HOMES and a happy healthy you.”

Feel free to check out our rodent control page, or our crawl space clean out page.

 

Crawl Space Vents

Crawl Space Vents

Crawl spaces are an important part of the structure of the house, as most homeowners know; it keeps the house off the ground, which discourages bug infestations, is less costly than a basement, and makes it easier to access the heating and air conditioning work of the house. Properly maintained crawl space vents are an important part of a home, and for good reason.

Importance of Crawl Space Vents

Crawl spaces are necessary structures of homes, but unfortunately attract lots of unnecessary problems, like mold and rot, due to the moisture it can carry. Because of this, it has long been recommended for homes with crawl spaces to invest in a good ventilation system. Proper ventilation prevents moisture from accumulating and keeps the crawl space relatively dry and temperate.

Since a home shares 40%-60% of its air with the crawl space, it’s very important to make sure the crawl space is as clean and dry as possible to maintain good air quality.

Broken Vents

A broken vent makes your crawl space more vulnerable to moisture, meaning your own may become more susceptible to mold and other fungi. Because your home shares so much of its air with your crawl space, it can potentially leave you vulnerable to inhaling these spores and getting you and your family sick. A broken vent also makes an entry point to your house for critter infestations, ranging from rats to insects.  Critters like the house mouse can extend its area to the rest of the house by finding cracks  in the walls and floors, and soon spread to the rest of the home!

How We Can Help

Bloom Crawl Space Services is a family owned company that can offers free crawl space estimates. Our trained professionals can come to your home, inspect your space, and recommend which service to utilize in order to protect your home from crawl space issues. We offer high quality repairs and guarantee our work . And in event some pests do end up in your space, we offer comprehensive pest control as well; we aim to take care of you on all fronts!

Bloom Editor Danielle Schneider

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Bloom Reporter Leah Iannacone

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French Drain Blog

French Drain

Portland OR, Vancouver WA

Flooding basements and yards are no fun for anyone! Homeowners who experience this occurrence should consider installing a French drain, which would be a simple fix to this headache


What is a
French drain?

A trench filled with gravel or rocks, that contains perforated pipes to redirect surface water and groundwater away from a given area, is a French Drain. This basic irrigation system has been a historically elegant way to solve over-saturation issues that homes face.

Why is it Called a French Drain?

Don’t let this name fool you though! Henry Flagg French, the creator of the French Drain. A lawyer and Assistant US Treasury Secretary from Concord, Massachusetts, French introduced this concept in his 1859 publication Farm Drainage.  Originally designed with sections of roofing tile with 1/8 inch of separation to admit water.

To accommodate this system, specialized tiles were made. The gravel size was varied from course at the center of the pile, and fine surrounding it; this was proven to be the best way to prevent clogging, until geotextiles (permeable fabrics with the ability to separate, filter, protect, and drain) were introduced in the 1950s.

 

How Can a French Drain Help?

The French drain provides an easy channel for water to flow through, eventually reaching a point a safe distance from the house. Water is diverted to low-lying area of the property like a drainage ditch, or the street.

Top Reasons to Get a French Drain

There are different types of solutions for different water irrigation needs:

  1. Surface water: issues resulting in a soggy lawn or washed out driveway. Shallow French drains, or curtain drain, that extends horizontally across your property would intercept water and channel out of the soggy spot.
  2. Issues with water getting in the basement, causing flooding. A deep French drain, or footing drain, that runs around the perimeter of the house at the footing level would intercept water before it can enter the basement/crawl space. Another solution is interior French drains. This intercepts water as it enters basement/crawl space by cutting a channel around the perimeter of the house and installing perforated piping; which would flow into a collection tank then sent out via sump pump.

At Bloom we are your drainage solution specialists. Let’s set up a free crawl space estimate for you home and see what Bloom can do for you.

Schedule Your Free Estimate

Bloom Editor Danielle Schneider

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Bloom Reporter Leah Iannacone

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Raccoon Infestation

Raccoon Infestation

Portland OR, Vancouver WA

When it comes to unwelcome house guests, raccoons can be quite the nuisance. A raccoon infestation means having clusters of intelligent creatures living in parts of your house, such as your attic, garage, and crawl space. Having a raccoon infestation in the crawl space of a house means sharing 40-60% of the air of your home with these animals, putting your family at risk to the airborne roundworm eggs found in their feces. Raccoons are carriers of rabies, and their feces are bio-hazards, requiring special clean up to insure pathogens don’t spread.

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Life Cycle and Biology of the Raccoon

Raccoons are stocky animals, ranging from about 2 to 3 feet long, and weighing between 10 to 30 pounds. Their bodies are covered with grizzled salt and pepper grey fur, and their tails have grey and black rings; their most prominent feature is the black “mask” over their eyes; they look like cartoon bandits! Raccoons are found all throughout the United States, except for high elevations and arid areas; they prefer habitats of hardwood forest areas near water.

Raccoons typically breed around February and March, with a gestation period of about 63 days. Most litters are born in April or May, and the average size is 3 to 5 offspring. A family of raccoons usually remains with its mother for the first years before becoming fully independent.

Signs of a Raccoon Infestation

Don’t be fooled by their cartoon-ish appearance; raccoons are very destructive animals, capable of tearing off shingles and fascia boards in order to gain access into an attic or crawl space. Because raccoons make dens out of places like hollowed trees, an uncapped chimney can be seen as a suitable dwelling for them as well. The most telling sign of a raccoon infestation is their paw prints around suspicious damage.

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Dangers of a Raccoon Infestation

Raccoons have sharp teeth and claws, capable of chewing holes in walls, through wires, tearing apart air ducts, and pipe insulation. A raccoon infestation of a crawl space also poses health risks to the inhabitants of a home. Their feces can carry roundworm eggs, which can be contracted through inhalation and ingestion. It also carries giardia lambila, a common protozoan for pets that causes diarrhea, that can also be contracted through ingestion and water contaminated by feces. Raccoons are also known carriers of rabies; male raccoons have no problem attacking those who encroach on their territories, making their bites potentially lethal.

Think your crawl space is infested with raccoons? The best course of action would be to call your local animal control to remove them. Once your home has been rid of them, the experts of Bloom can come to assess your damages. Some solutions we offer are:

Entry Exclusion

Vapor barrier replacement

Insulation replacement

Bloom Editor Danielle Schneider

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Bloom Reporter Leah Iannacone

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Squirrel Infestation

Squirrel Infestation in Portland

Portland OR, Vancouver WA

Ah, the common backyard squirrel; just seeing the word immediately creates a mental image of these big eyed, bushy tailed little critters. While most people don’t mind seeing them passing through, you definitely wouldn’t want them as permanent neighbors. Squirrel infestations extend from the house to the property. Squirrels are rodents, who have similar behaviors and looks as rats and mice, so a squirrel infestation can end up being costly as well as a nuisance.

Common Types of Squirrels

Despite all squirrels looking the same as the next, there are divided into three groups: large tree squirrels, pine squirrels, and flying squirrels. The larger tree squirrel group is further divided in four groups: fox, eastern gray, western gray and tassel-eared squirrels. The most common squirrels in the Pacific Northwest are eastern and western grey, red and pine, and northern and southern flying squirrels; these breeds populate densely forested areas. Gray and fox squirrels are capable of breeding at about 1 year of age, and will breed by early January, and again in June. During these times is when you’ll see the males noisily chasing females like teenagers!

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Nesting Habits of Squirrels

Squirrels nest in little dens, like tree cavities and leaf nests (structures made of sticks and dry leaves). Their home range ranges from 1 to 100 acres, depending on food availability. That’s a lot of steps! During the fall, squirrels may travel up to 50 miles for a better habitat, all without the luxury of a U-Haul. Their diet consists of nuts and seeds, but they’re not above eating insects in order to survive.

Mating Habits of Squirrels

A squirrel’s gestation is about 3 to 6 weeks, and they will have about 3 young per litter. These babies are capable of venturing out of their after they wean at 10 to 12 weeks. While the majority of squirrels die within the first year of their lives, the rest can live to around 5-10 years old in the wild, and up to 20 in captivity.

How to tell if I Have a Squirrel Infestation

Because they look so cute it’s easy to forget that they’re in the same animal group as rats, but squirrels are very capable of similar damage. They like taking up residency in attics and crawlspaces, and are capable of chewing up electrical wires and walls. As an added bonus, squirrels can also destroy your garden and eat any vegetation.  The best way to identify squirrel infestations is by hearing them in the walls or attic. If you hear sounds of scurrying during the day, coupled with chewed up entry holes, then it’s likely to be a squirrel infestation. While rats do have similar tell-tale signs, they’re nocturnal creatures, so you’ll hear rats during nightfall and night time.

It’s no wonder that Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale were after moose AND squirrel. They were making sure that Rocky didn’t come to their home to infest!Squirrels are fluffy tailed menaces, capable of breeding quickly and chewing up a home. It’s best to be mindful of whether they’ve made an entrance in your home to make sure that they don’t infest it.
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Opossum Infestation

Opossum Infestation

Portland OR, Vancouver WA

Crawl spaces are ideal environments for an opossum infestation to occur. It’s a cool, damp atmosphere, and coupled with the lack of sunlight, it’s a preferential place for opossums to nest. An opossum taking residency in a home can lead to possible bacteria accumulation, attacks on pets, and spread of disease. An opossum infestation is something to take action against when detected, and can be prevented through routine crawl space clean outs.

Life Cycle & Biology of an Opossum

Opossums are whitish or grayish, and about the size of a house cat. Their faces are long and pointed, with rounded and hairless ears, a rat-like tail, and wide spread fingers. Opossums gravitate to garbage cans and pet food dishes. When threatened, an opossum may bare its teeth, growl, bite, and exude an odorous greenish fluid from their anal glands.

Their mating season is typically from January to July, and raise 2 or 3 litters in a year, with an average of 7 born at a time. Litters are born 13 days after mating, and the offspring will remain with their mother until about 13 to 15 weeks. The young will then go on to roam until they find a suitable living space, and live alone. Opossums are most active at night and have an adverse reaction to daylight, which renders them stupid and inhibited.

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Signs of Infestations

Opossums are nocturnal creatures. They would love remain in the confines of the damp, dark environment of your crawl space; An inspection is a great way to identify an opossum infestation.  Some subtle signs are the sounds of bumping or scurrying under floors, and a musty odor in the home or crawl space.

Dangers of Infestations

Opossum infestations are potentially dangerous to a home’s inhabitants. They gravitate to garbage, gardens, bird feeders, and pet food. Opossums are capable of shredding duct work, chewing on wiring, which creates a fire hazard, and tearing insulation that can be found in the pipes of a crawl space. They can also chew water lines, making your home susceptible to flooding.

Opossums also carry diseases transmittable to humans, such as tuberculosis and toxoplasmosis. As studies have shown that crawl spaces share 40-60% of its air with a home, having an airborne contagion would be putting the whole family at risk. Opossums are also host to fleas and ticks, and are capable of fighting with dogs and cats. That, coupled with their capacity for inflicting serious injury with their teeth, makes them dangerous to the pets as well.

What We Can Do For You

Opossums are capable of biting in self-defense. Having the professional experts of Bloom check your crawl space would be ideal. It would take out the risk of personal injury while getting an honest assessment of any damages that have occurred. Some solutions we offer are:

  • Entry Exclusion, which is the process of closing off all entry points of a crawl space. Cutting off anyway an opossum could find in is a great preventative step.
  • Vapor Barrier Replacement, which would remove any feces, chewing, nesting, and storing of food that would destroy a vapor barrier.
  • Insulation Replacement, which would replace any insulation an opossum might have used for nesting or have become contaminated with their feces, chewing, and stored food.

Bloom Editor Danielle Schneider

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Bloom Reporter Leah Iannacone

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Encapsulation vs Vapor Barrier

Encapsulation vs Vapor Barrier

Portland OR, Vancouver WA

When it comes to your crawl space there always seems to be a lot of questions but no straight forward answers. On this page we will be talking about the differences between encapsulation and vapor barrier from a neutral perspective, so you can make the decision.

What is Encapsulation?Crawlspace Encapsulation vs. Crawlspace Vapor Barrier - Portland OR Vancouver WA

Encapsulation is the process of completely sealing your entire crawl space in a white plastic. With encapsulation you are also required to install a sump pump, and dehumidifier. The purpose of encapsulation is to reduce the moisture in your crawl space, reducing your risk of mold. It also makes for cleaner air in your crawl space, which you share air with. After your crawl space in encapsulated, it makes for great storage area as well since it’s completely clean.

Facts about Encapsulation

When you encapsulate your crawl space, 100% of the ground is covered in a white plastic.
All the seams, junctions and crawl space vents in your crawl space are totally sealed.
Encapsulation usually comes with insulated foundation walls and band joist.
With encapsulation you are required to have one of the three air conditioning methods: (i) dehumidifier (this is what is normally used) (ii) small amount of air supply from HVAC system, or (iii) small exhaust fan

Benefits of Encapsulation

Having an encapsulated crawl space comes with many benefits, the greatest one (in our opinion) being, better air quality. Studies show that you share 40%-60% of the air you breathe, with your crawl space. So you want a clean crawl space. With encapsulating your crawl space you save money on your energy bill! The Advanced Energy studies have found nearly 20% reduction in energy use in homes with a conditioned crawl space. Having an encapsulated crawl space will reduce the humidity in your crawl space as well, decreasing your potential for mold problems exponentially.

What is a Vapor Barrier?

A vapor barrier installation is the process of laying down 6mm black plastic throughout your entire crawl space floor. The vents to your crawl space are not sealed, therefore you are not required to have a dehumidifier installed. A vapor barrier installation does not require a sump pump to be installed either. Sometimes your home may need a sump pump as well, but that’s dependent on your crawl space.

Facts about Vapor Barrier

With a Vapor Barrier installment, we use 6mm black plastic, also known as visqueen. The reason for that specific type is because that is what building code requires.
Vapor barrier installations average a quarter of the price of a full encapsulation
Does not require sump pump or any air conditioning methods.

Benefits of Vapor Barrier

The benefits of installing a vapor barrier are the exact same as encapsulation, minus the storage. With a vapor barrier install you can still store things in your crawl space, it’s just not as ‘pretty’ as encapsulation. Vapor Barrier benefits you and your home with better air quality, saving you money on your energy bill (the same 20% that the Advanced Energy studies found), and reduction in humidity decreasing your potential for mold problems exponentially.

Which should you choose?

In the end, it’s your home and it’s up to you. We made this page so you as a customer can be more educated on the subject and go into this process having more knowledge to help in your decision making. Take a look at our video of owner, Nathan Head, in the crawl space talking about the differences, or reference the infographic we have. Both are valid options for your crawl space that offer the same protection, encapsulation is just 3 times the price of a vapor barrier installation.

Crawl Space Fans

Crawl Space Fans

Every house is different, including its crawl space, so it’s essential to understand the different options available in order to make the best decision for your home. Keeping your crawl space dry and well-maintained is an important factor, and one viable option is to invest in a crawl space fan.

What is a Crawl Space Fan?

Crawl space fans are a box fan that sucks the air out of the crawl space and blows it outside. This is a great solution for homes that are in areas prone to consistently damp environments. A crawl space fan system creates proper ventilation, which reduces the moisture in the air.

What do Crawl Space Fans do?

Since your home shares up to 60% of its air with your crawl space, it’s important to keep it as dry as possible. Too much moisture can cause condensation, which can lead to mold, mildew, and wood rot; all of which can cause costly damage to your home. Crawl Space fans can also vent radon and keep any naturally occurring odor at bay.

Why Have a Professional Installation?

Having a crawl space fan properly installed the first time insures that it has a proper and consistent energy source, since it does need to get plugged in. It also makes sure that the crawl space fan’s space does not become an entry point for critters and bugs to find a way into your home.

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Bloom Editor Danielle Schneider

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Bloom Reporter Leah Iannacone

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