When it is cold outside rodents and pests seek out warm shelter, and unfortunately they often find it in homes. Pest and rodent invasions are common during the winter months. If you can be alerted early to the problem you can take steps to address the infestation before it becomes too severe. There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that pests will not find shelter in your home. Whether you are battling an ongoing pest or rodent infestation this winter or want to be proactive and avoid it, you can use the following checklist for a pest-free home this winter: x Check and replace pest monitors. Since many pests like insects and mice are small, they can enter your home without you knowing. You might not even realize they are there until there is an infestation. It is important to have pest monitors around your house so that you can catch them quickly, before they are able to multiply. Some pest monitoring systems, like standard glue boards, become less effective in cold weather. If you are using standard glue boards you may want to consider ones made especially for cold weather like the Catchmaster 48WRG Cold Temperature Glue Board Traps. These boards are non-toxic and unlike standard glue boards they are effective in temperatures as low as 0 degrees F; because they can withstand very cold temperatures, they work well in attics, garages, unheated basements, and winterized vacation homes. x Check garage doors. Garages can be an easy entry point for pests, especially rodents. Although unheated garages are cool, they are still warmer than many places outdoors, so they are inviting to pests seeking warmth. First, make sure that you close your garage doors as soon as you take your car in or out of the garage. Just a few minutes is all it takes for a pest to come into your garage and find a place to hide. Second, check your garage doors to make sure there are not large gaps between the door and the floor. If there are large gaps consider having a professional installer look at them or even have new doors put in. Having garage doors that are in good working order will both keep pests out and keep the warmth in your garage. x Install door sweeps. It is easy for a rodent to enter through an open garage door, but did you know that a mouse can squeeze under some doors? You don’t need to leave your door wide open to invite in unwanted guests. A mouse can get through a hole about the size of a pencil so even a small gap between your exterior door and the floor can allow a mouse to enter.One of the best ways to stop a mouse from squeezing under a door is to install door sweeps. Door sweeps can be found at hardware and home improvement stores. Many door sweeps are easily installed by homeowners. x Store seasonal items properly. Just because you don’t want to use your holiday decorations in February doesn’t mean that a rodent wouldn’t want to use them for warmth and shelter. Storing holiday decorations in sealed plastic containers makes your attic or garage storage space more organized as well as making it less hospitable for pests. Rodents and insects are always looking for places to hide, and rodents are also always on the search for material to make nests. If you store your items in sealed plastic containers (like those made by Rubber Maid) pests will not be able to get to your decorations. By doing so, you reduce nesting materials as well as nesting sites. x Check your pipes. It may seem that checking your pipes is a home improvement tip, but it is a pest control tip as well. Water expands as it freezes causing pressure in your pipes that can lead to a break or crack. The pipes that are in most danger of freezing are supply pipes in unheated interior areas like attics, garages, crawl spaces, and basements. Pipes that run against exterior walls that are poorly insulated are also in danger of freezing. Both hot water and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. Tubular-sleeve insulation is usually considered the most DIY friendly and comes in a variety of sizes at home improvement stores. To install, simply cut the sleeve to length and wrap it around the pipe. In addition to insulating pipes, when it is very cold outside, you should let the cold water drip from the faucet attached to pipes that run against exterior walls. Running water through the pipes helps to prevent them from freezing. If your pipes do burst you are likely to have a moisture problem. Moisture problems encourage many different pests like termites, cockroaches, rodents and mold. x Install Approved Dryer Vent Covers. Your dryer vent can be a beacon of heat for rodents in the winter, guiding them directly into your dryer! Check to see that your vent cover is clean, designed to exclude pests out and is functioning properly. If necessary, install a new approved vent cover to keep rodents out. By following the above Checklist for a Pest-Free Winter Home you can lessen your chance of an infestation during the cold months of the year. As always, we recommend you monitor your home with glue boars and trays to alert you should a pest find a way indoors.