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Home Inspectors and Infestations

A home inspector’s job is to evaluate the structural integrity of a home or property. Among other portions of the inspection that include checking the roofing, the foundation, electrical and water leaks, the inspection must also evaluate whether or not there are problems due to insects, birds, squirrels, etc. Believe it or not, insect and animal infestations can compromise the safety of a home.

There are various insects that can cause problems in a home. The most common include termites, black ants, birds and squirrels. Here’s how they can cause problems:

Carpenter ants: These ants set up colonies in soft wood that is moist or decaying. From there other colonies often form. The ants burrow through wood to build their nests and it’s the burrowing that is the cause for concern. Essentially these ants are hollowing out wood leaving holes bored through. If the wood in question is a support beam or anything more than decorative, there can be major consequences.

Termites: Termites eat wood. Termites, like carpenter ants, like damp soil. They nest in the soil under homes. If wood is in contact with the soil, they start to eat their way up, as wood is the main food source for termites. Termites can eat holes through the wood and compromise the safety of the home. Termites may eat through other substances to get to the wood that can include insulation. Keep wood away from homes, including mulch. Building the foundation up from the ground before using wood can also help prevent termite infestation.

Squirrels: Squirrels are cute critters, but let them nest in your home and you could find electrical cords eaten through. Squirrels have also been known to chew through wood, tiles and insulation. Electrical cords dangling can lead to fires. Squirrels may also chew on gas lines. Making sure there are no entry points in a home for squirrels or other rodents to enter is the best form of prevention. Squirrels often enter through holes in roofs and set up residence in the attic.

Birds: Similar to squirrels, they can peck through wiring, or pull it out thinking it might make for a good nest, which compromises the home, not to mention the health hazards of having animal feces in a home or animals that have a likelihood of carrying disease.

A home inspector’s job is to identify if there is a problem that may cause structural damage to the home. The inspector’s job is NOT to remove the problem. If a home inspector finds an infestation, they should refer the homeowner or homebuyer to a professional exterminator or animal relocation specialist.

Most inspectors jobs do not include identifying rodent or bird infestations unless it relates to the safety of the home, such as in the case where wiring has been eaten through, or tiles there are tiles missing or entryways in the home through the roof or other areas that may cause problems for the home.

Infestations reduce the value of a home and will become a bargaining point in any real estate sale. If you suspect an infestation, have it treated as soon as you discover it. Prevention is always the best medicine. By taking care of the problem before you sell you’ll increase the value of your home.