While performing home inspections in NJ Home inspectors often find rodent activity. Typically, a home inspector in NJ will find droppings or nesting, materials. These can be located in the basement, garage, attic, in back of appliances, or inside cabinets. Although reporting on the presence of rodents in a home is beyond NJ home inspection standards it is advisable that a home inspector tell their client if the home has rodents. Rodents can be much more than a nuisance in homes. They can affect the health of the occupants as well as crate significant safety hazards in homes.
As New Jersey home inspectors we are inspecting for three or more hours in a given home. We inspect all accessible areas and as a result we often come across evidence of mice activity. This activity is typically seen in the form of droppings which can be found in basements, kitchens, behind appliances, garages and in attics. We have a duty I believe to tell our clients about any evidence of rodents in the home. We owe it to our clients to exceed the standards of practice in this area.
Mice can enter a home several ways. Rodents can enter a home through an opening the size of a dime. They can also chew open holes and enter. Mice can compact their organs to squeeze through these small holes. Mice have a collapsible rib cage and thus have a greater capacity to flex then other mammals. Once the rodents head is through the balance of the body can squeeze through as well.
One such area of possible rodent entry into home are the weep hales in brick veneer. These gaps are designed to allow for water to drain behind the brick.
These gaps are very important for the structure but are large enough to allow for mice to enter the home. These are crucial in keeping moisture from the back of the brick, but they are an avenue to allow mice to enter. These openings are necessary and should not be sealed over. One solution is to install a weep hole screen. This will allow water to drain and also prevent mice from entering.
Whenever two different building materials meet on the exterior of the home can provide an area where rodents can enter. One such vulnerable area is where the exterior siding meets the soffits of the home. It is important to make sure that the home has tight soffits free of gaps and openings. These gaps can become worse over time as the home's buildings material expand and contract with the changes of the seasons.
Once of the biggest culprits in allowing rodents into a home are siding and roof penetrations. When holes are cut through walls and the roofing, they need to be properly sealed, so they are free of gaps and open areas. The NJ home inspector should point out these problematic areas and educate their client to seal these areas. What may look like a small gap or opening can create a significant pathway for rodent entry into the home.
One issue that NJ home inspectors should look out for are tree branches touching the roof. Branches touching the roof allow for a ladder way for rodents to get to the roof top and make their way into the home.
Mice that make their way onto the roof will find many access points at roof vents and pipe penetrations. Homeowners must make sure that their roof vents sit tight to the roof surface so rodents and other pests cannot gain entry under them. Sometimes these vents have a very thin insect screen that rodents can easily chew through to gain entry into the home.
Rodents are not just a nuisance hey can cause property damage. Rodents chew on almost everything and everything. they do not discriminate when it comes to chewing on things in a home. When rodents chew on electrical wires, serious hazards can result. Chewed electrical wires can arc and short and create house fires as well as electrical shock hazards. Rodents often nest in insulation. As they nest, they cause damage and displace the insulation as well as contaminate the insultation with urine and droppings. Repairing the damage caused by rodents in a home can be time consuming and well as expensive.
Rodents not only can cause damage they can cause problems with sanitation and can create health risks for the home's occupants. Mice carry diseases and can contaminate living spaces with urine and droppings. As mice move around, they leave behind urine and droppings, and they also shed their fur. All of these unsanitary elements can cause allergic reactions including respiratory problems. Some rodents carry diseases such as hantavirus which can be transmitted to an occupant by coming into contact with their waste. Also, having rodents in a home contribute to other issues such as attracting parasites such as flees, mites and ticks.
Another big issue with rodents is their ability to contaminate food. Rodents once in a home will locate a food source and chew through any type of food storage containers. They can easily and quickly chew through cardboard, plastic and even panty walls to gain access to a food source. Once inside they contaminate food by urine and droppings making all food that comes into contact with rodents unsafe for use.
Rodents breed at a very fast rate. They have short gestation periods and large litters. if left untreated a small population of rodents will quickly grow into a major infestation. The reproductive rate of rodents makes them very challenging to get under control if action is not taken right away. With each new birthing problems and damage in the home gets worse, including damage, contamination, and health risks in the home.
Having rodent s in a home can also cause psychological effects on occupants. The existence of rodents can cause fear and discomfort associated with sharing living areas with these pests. The constant worry about potential damage, disease exposures, and the not predictable rodent behaviors can lower the quality of life of the home's occupants.
Rodents in a home are not just a simple nuisance. Rodents present several serious health and safety issues as well as disrupting comfort and safety of the home's occupants. It is up to New Jersey home inspectors to identify rodent activity and call out possible entry points in order to help educate clients about this very prolific problem in NJ homes.