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A homeowner in Manchester Township, NJ, was having a problem with rodents accessing the crawl space area of the home. Pest view crawl spaces as prime real estate. They are dark, usually damp and humid, private, and often, there are gaps around the home’s foundation for pests to find their way inside. Once inside the home, rodents and other pests can use wall voids to travel throughout the home, more often than not, making their way to the kitchen to forage for food.
The homeowner diligently attempted to seal up all of the potential entry points around the home’s perimeter, but mice were still getting in. He determined that the crawl space access door was not fully sealed, but he did not know how to address the problem, and contacted Cowleys. Our crawl space repair and improvement division had the perfect solution: A customized Everlast door cover with weatherstripping applied on the back of the door. With this installation, the homeowner had a crawl space door on his foundation that would stand up to the worst weather conditions and provide a rodent-proof seal.
These covers are custom installed to provide a perfect seal to any crawl space opening. They can be installed against wood framing or masonry, work exceptionally well, and look great, blending in perfectly with the home’s foundation. These doors are made of a hard durable plastic that stand up to the worst weather. Unlike wooden or metal doors they can’t rot, warp, crack, or rust. They are also maintenance-free and never need to be painted. Also, even though these covers form a tight seal over the crawl space access, they are super-easy to open should you or a repair person need to get in. All you need to do is twist a few easy-to-grip knobs, and the door comes right off.
This homeowner could not have been more pleased.
Recently, homeowners in Lawrence Township, NJ in Mercer County contacted Cowleys to upgrade their dirty, dusty crawl space. Crawl spaces are perhaps the most ignored areas of a home. They can also be fraught with problems that can affect the living spaces above. Dirty crawl space air circulates throughout the home, so even if you don’t see what’s going on down there, the crawl space in a very real way is visiting you on a daily basis. Crawl spaces are also notorious for high indoor humidity levels, for mold growth, and their damp, dark environment attracts insects. Many homeowners deal with pungent smells and poor indoor air quality because of problem crawl spaces.
This homeowner was bothered that there was a filthy area right below their first floor and decided it was time to do something about it. Cowleys has an experienced contractor crew that can improve crawl spaces in a variety of ways, up to and including the installation of a full CleanSpace encapsulation system. Crawl space encapsulation seals off the outdoor elements that can trigger all sorts of problems. Even if you don’t see puddles of water in your crawl space, ground soil is naturally saturated with water. By definition, any crawl space with a soil floor is damp and filled with moisture most of the time.
For this homeowner, we installed thick mold-resistant drainage matting to create a barrier between crawlspace and floor, a primary entry point of unwanted groundwater. We wrapped the walls with SilverGlo wall insulation, an Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS) product coated in a mold-resistant aluminum and put protective warping on the crawl space pillars as well. Finally, we put in a heavy-duty 20-mil CleanSpace vapor barrier. Our vapor barrier is much thicker and sturdier than a regular liner, and we mechanically fasten it to the walls. When, on occasion, you or a repair person need to access your crawl space, the barrier will not pull off or tear.
Once we completed the installation, these homeowners now benefitted from a home with a clean, improved crawl space. This home improvement will make their home more comfortable for the family, improve the indoor air quality, and reduce the risk of crawl space mold growth. For these homeowner, an added benefit was that their crawl space could now be used as a much-needed clean and dry storage area.
We went out on a service call for a homeowner in East Brunswick, NJ who was having an issue with poor ventilation in his attic. About 50% of energy costs can be traced to HVAC usage, meaning heating and cooling are one of the biggest expenses for many homeowners. Air leaks between the attic and the rest of the home or outside, insufficient insulation and poor ventilation are some of the factors that significantly influence your home's energy efficiency, comfort, and costs.
Once we arrived and conducted a thorough inspection, we determined that his attic was severely under-insulated. After bringing this to the homeowner's attention and discussing a few options, he decided to add blown-in cellulose insulation in his attic. Blown-in cellulose insulation is the perfect choice for reinforcing the barrier between your home's attic and other rooms. Insulation limits heat transfer, meaning it prevents heat from escaping during the winter and prevents humidity from entering the home during the summer. Improper installation of light fixtures in the attic can create void areas of missing insulation. Insulation voids allow heat transfer by convection and radiation. Research has shown that just a 4% void in fiberglass batt insulation can result in a 50% reduction in insulation effectiveness.
We added approximately 10 inches of cellulose to their existing insulation in the attic. Now the home has an extra layer of insulation to prevent heat loss.
Recently, we went on a service call for a homeowner in SeaGirt, NJ who had an issue with moisture in his crawl space. Moisture can seep into the crawl space through poor circulation or from the foundation walls and can lead to a number of problems, such as mold and mildew growth. As much as 40% of breathable air in your home comes up through the crawl space. Which means if mold exists in your crawl space, the unhealthy air circulating through your home can cause health problems for your family.
Once we arrived we began our inspection in the crawl space and discovered that the wooden door leading into the crawl space was rotted, damaged, and not closing properly. This was allowing not just moisture into the crawl space, but pests as well. Crawl spaces can also become a dwelling for pests if not properly maintained. Once pests enter your crawl space, they can follow heated air ducts, water pipes, and electrical wiring into your home and cause additional health issues.
Continuing our inspection we noticed that homeowner had a dirt floor crawl space and there was an excessive amount of garbage and debris scattered throughout the crawl space. Dirt floor crawl spaces attract and absorb moisture. When the dirt dries, it causes humidity levels to rise in your home. After a thorough inspection, we determined that this was the cause of the moisture build-up in the crawl space.
The best treatment to remove the moisture from the crawl space is to install a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier is a super-durable, 20-mil 7-ply plastic sheet material made up of high and low-density polyethylene with polyester-cord reinforcement. The vapor barrier resists the passage of air and by stopping air movement from the ground, it can also turn your crawl space into a semi-conditioned space – one that is close to the temperature of the living spaces above. When that occurs, your floors feel warmer in winter and your energy bills go down.
First, we removed all the sharp rocks and debris, which may puncture the insulating plastic, from the crawl space and then graded the ground to create a leveled surface. Next, we anchored the vapor barrier to the walls and placed it on the floor. We also installed an Everlast™ door to replace the damaged wooden door. An Everlast™ door is made from ½-in.-thick PVC plastic that will never warp, crack, shrink, require maintenance or painting and will prevent any unwanted pests and moisture from entering the crawl space.
With the new vapor barrier and everlasting door in place, the moisture levels in the crawl space are greatly reduced which will prevent mold and foul odors from growing and forming.
Recently, I was dispatched to a home in Holmdel, NJ that was having a problem with some “large wasps” that had taken up residence, of all places, behind the slats of a hot tub. Upon, arrival, I immediately determined that these homeowners were dealing with a European hornet infestation. These are one of the larger stinging insects that we regularly encounter. They can grow to about one inch long, making them one intimidating stinging insect! Because these insects have some yellow in their markings, they can be easily confused with yellow jackets. However, they are much larger, thicker insects than the slender yellow jacket. Also, unlike yellow jackets, European hornets usually has some orange in their coloration. Like all social wasps and hornets, European hornets are aggressive and territorial if they perceive that they are being threatened. As far as stinging insects go, both yellow jackets and European hornets are similar in that they both have nasty temperaments and won’t hesitate to use their stingers.
Unlike baldfaced hornets, paper wasps, and other stinging insects, European hornets rarely build suspended nests attached to tree limbs, roof eaves, and other locations in plain view. Instead, just like they did here, these insects usually build their nests inside a hole or cavity. The location of their nests can make them difficult to reach and treat. Sometimes, these hornets will enter homes for shelter, finding entry point through eaves and vents where they then form nests, commonly in wall voids and in attics.
Here, I promptly located where these hornets were nesting inside the hot tub. First, I treated the nest with a dust that quickly knocks down the population. After waiting until I observed no more active insect activity, I successfully removed the nest. As shown in the photo, the nest was broken into numerous pieces because I had to pull the nest out piecemeal from inside the hot tub. Since the nest was cracked open, you can clearly see the hundreds of combs inside the nest that housed the hornet larvae. I collected all of the nest pieces, bagged them, and took everything with me so there was no remaining nest debris. Now, these homeowners can resume the use of their hot tub without feeling threatened by these large stinging insects.
I was recently sent to a residence in Ocean Township, NJ to deal with a mouse infestation. This particular homeowner was getting frustrated because of a continuing, on-going mouse problem. As temperatures drop, mice will start overwintering in our homes to escape the harsh weather conditions, and here, it seemed that more and more mice would find their way inside the home.
Upon arrival, I performed a full inspection of the home’s interior and exterior perimeter to find any actual or potential entry points. Mice don’t need much of an opening to find their way inside — any gap about the width of a dime is enough for them to gain entry. It is critically important that these entry points are located and sealed. Otherwise, you can set up all the bait stations you want in the home and you’ll never get rid of the infestation. I sealed all of the possible entry points and installed rodent control stations in strategic areas where there were signs of mouse activity — under the stove, behind the fridge, and plumbing areas under the sink and laundry room. Gaps around piping coming into the home are a common trouble spot for rodent entry. Finally, I explained to the homeowner that as part of my treatment plan, I’d be returning in two weeks for a follow-up visit to make sure there were no more issues. The homeowner was relieved that the mouse problem was finally under control.
I was sent to Middletown, NJ with my colleague Alfonso to help a homeowner who had contacted Cowleys after finding mouse droppings in several areas of their home. With any rodent infestation, our priority is finding any actual or potential entry points. Finding mice entry points is a challenge since they can squeeze through the smallest of cracks and crevices. A mouse needs only about a quarter-inch gap to find their way inside your home. If a mouse is able to poke its snout through a hole, the rest of its body will follow. To successfully resolve a mouse infestation, it is critical that these entry points are located and sealed. Failure to do so means that you’ll likely have ongoing problems with these overwintering pests, even if the ones already in your home are eliminated.
As outdoor temperatures drop, mice, other wildlife, and certain insects will look for harborage in your home to escape the harsh outdoor elements. if there is a weak link for them to gain access inside your home, they’ll find it. Mice commonly look for entry points around the home’s foundation. They’ll enter into the crawl space or basement and then find their way to the living areas of the home when they forage for food and water. One of the most common, and often overlooked, entry points for mice are pipe chases, those spaces where pipes, such as from air conditioning units and the home’s plumbing system, as well as electrical supply lines, are run into the home. Pipe chases often become entry points for overwintering mice and bugs when the original sealant around the pipes starts to become worn and disintegrates, creating a perfect “tunnel” for pests to enter the home. We found several possible entry points around some pipes, and sealed them with chew-proof copper mesh. To reduce the mouse population in and around the home, we set up rodent control bait boxes in the home’s interior as well as the exterior perimeter. Finally, as part of our protocol, we scheduled a two-week follow-up to re-inspect and replenish the bait boxes as necessary. We are confident that with the exclusion and the bait boxes. We’re confident that it won’t take long for the infestation to be resolved, and this homeowner will no longer find droppings and other upsetting signs of mouse activity in his home.
A homeowner in Long Branch, NJ, recently purchased a home and while walking around the exterior perimeter, found something missing that was quite important — a cover over the crawl space entry. He knew that it would only be a matter of time for mice and other pests to access the crawl space and the opening was a major problem for letting in hot humid air. He knew that Cowleys did a wide variety of crawl space repair and improvement work and contacted us to see if there was anything that we could do.
Cowleys had the perfect product: An Everlast cover that our contractor crew could easily custom fit to completely seal his crawl space access.
These covers are custom provide a perfect seal for most any crawl space opening.
They can be installed against wood framing or masonry, work exceptionally well, and look great. These doors, made of a hard durable plastic, stand up to New Jersey’s worst weather and keep out mice and other pests. These crawl space covers are far superior in performance to wooden or metal doors since they can’t rot, warp, crack, or rust. As a bonus, they never need to be painted. Also, even though these covers form a tight seal over the crawl space access, they are easy to open with four easy-to-grip knobs. Just twist them off, and you’re in!
This Long Branch homeowner could not have been more pleased.
Homeowners in Rumson, NJ, had a bat infestation in their attic. Bats are often attracted to homes for maternity and nesting roosts. The species of bats found in New Jersey have adapted well to using the walls and attic spaces of homes. They make great places to hibernate or raise their young. A wildlife technician had already completed the bat exclusion and sealed their access points into the attic. But more work needed to be done. As often happens, whenever wildlife, especially bats, raccoons, or squirrels, take up residence in attics, they are rude houseguests, and that’s putting it mildly.
Wildlife can cause a significant amount of damage in a short period of time from their activities. They can cause all sorts of problems such as chewing through wiring, which is a serious fire hazard. A major problem of any wildlife infestation is their urine and often prodigious quantities of droppings. A colony of bats can produce a significant amount of dripping, smelly guano (poop). One of the most common casualties of a wildlife infestation is ruined contaminated attic insulation. Also, from a health standpoint, bat droppings can contain the histoplasmosis fungus and other pathogens. Bat guano, like all wildlife droppings, should be treated as a toxic health hazard. Never enter an enclosed area with wildlife droppings without proper protective equipment.
A Cowleys home improvement crew was brought in to handle this clean-up. We removed the soiled insulation, sanitized and deodorized the space, and installed 10” of our blown-in cellulose insulation. After it is installed and settles, this dense fire-retardant thermal blanket does an amazing job holding in heat in the winter and conditioned air in the summer. It is an energy-efficient money-saver for homeowners. Also, unlike fiberglass rolls, the coverage of blown insulation is complete and comprehensive. We can fill in all of those hard-to-fit spaces that roll often miss. This insulation also helps with sound and noise dampening. Finally, it even has an effective pest control component. A specialized form of borate is added to the paper fibers. If an insect comes into contact with borate particles will ingest it as part of its grooming, and soon thereafter it’s “game over.” It’s important to mention that borates are only lethal to insects. It’s completely safe and non-toxic for humans and, for that matter, any other mammal.
After we were done with our cleanup, you would have never guessed that this attic was once used as a dirty bat cave. Now, this sanitized and deodorized guano-free attic, with its fresh insulation, looked great, smelled great, and was safe, clean, and sanitary.