Although there are a wide variety of different reasons why pests are attracted to certain households, one of the most common is plumbing leaks and other related issues. This is due to the fact that water and the accessibility of it makes a building or home more appealing to pests and vermin. Even if you are fastidious about emptying and draining the sink after washing the dishes or emptying the bathtub after you’ve washed, rodents and insects can still find other parts of your property where they can find water.
Rodents, bugs and other home invaders can enter your home and find water at any point throughout your plumbing system, whether your garden hose, sewage line or your bathroom and kitchen faucets.
It is often the case that people don’t actually realize their home has a plumbing problem until they actually see signs of pests. There are some very common problems with plumbing though that can actually make it easier for pests such as rodents and insects to infest a property.
Leaks in your plumbing system can happen anywhere, but often they occur in places that you can easily check just by looking. By carrying out routine inspections of these areas you will be able to detect any leaks early and reduce the risk of pests infested your home. If you just see one bug drinking at the little droplets of water you left after your bath or shower, it may not be a sign of an infestation. However, if you regularly catch several bugs in the same place this is more than likely a sign that you have a big pest problem on your hands. While visible leaks are easier to spot, it is not just visible leaks that attract pests.
Some leaks happen in areas of the property that are harder to gain access to, like under your floorboards, behind the walls and even underground. Most commonly though, they do happen in the easier to access places. Worn washers can cause leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets. Rusting water control valves, fixtures or drains are all signs that there is leaking water somewhere.
When inspecting the hardware on sinks and the sinks themselves, check any cabinets you have and below and behind them if you can. Be sure to also check the sink trap or garbage disposal for any signs of moisture. You should contact a plumber if you do spot any as soon as possible, as they will be able to get to the bottom of where the leak is coming from.
Another common area you should regularly check for signs of moisture is underneath your fridge and freezer. If there is space beneath it, side a pan under to collect any water that may be there because of condensation and be sure to empty the pan regularly. For fridges with ice-makers, you need to check the line that runs to the freezer too as these are usually made from plastic and are susceptible to breaks and tears. Even just a minor tear in this line could produce the right volume of water to attract and satisfy a whole colony of pesky pests.
While inspecting your fridge for signs of leaks, you should take the opportunity to look at all other appliances that are connected up to your plumbing systems, such as your dishwasher and washing machine. It is also worth checking plumbing pipe seals where they come in at the walls. There should be some sort of sealant, like insulation, rubber gaskets or metallic plates. This prevents pests from accessing your property. Any gaps in these sealants are an easy way for all kinds of pests to get into your home.
As leaks are possible both inside your household and outside it too, it is vital that you inspect the outside as well. Make sure the spigots on the exterior of the property are free of leaks and inspect any hoses or sprinklers you have for leaks. While inspecting the outside of your house, check your air conditioner for any signs of leaks. If the drainage lines to the air conditioner are blocked there will be a pool of water around your air con unit. Get in contact with an air conditioner repair business if there is any stagnant water close by and do what you can to disperse the water. You need to also ensure that the condensation pans are empty.
We have covered in a lot of detail the type of leaks and moisture issues you should regularly check for to prevent the risk of pest infestation in your home. But, what bugs and other pests are most attracted to water. The answer is that most are in some way attracted to it, therefore, where there are unwanted leaks – eventually, there will be pests. This includes the likes of:
Now that we have covered the kinds of pests that could be attracted to any leaks you may have in your home, visible or hard to spot, you are probably wondering how you check for signs that you may already have a pest invasion in your home. There are a number of different, but common signs of infestations.
Pests like rats, mice, and cockroaches are known to be more active in darker areas of buildings and at night. However, you may still catch a glimpse of them in the light of day. If you do though, it may be a sign that your pest problem is serious. So keep your eyes peeled.
You should also be on the lookout for any dead bodies of pests that might have died after being attracted to a leakage. Check the crawlspace/basement and windowsills for bodies, particularly if you have recently found a leak or it had it repaired. If you find a number of bodies of the same species, this could be an indication that a colony of that pest or bug are living in or on your property.
Mice, rats and other vermin like them will build nests from the materials they find. Therefore, look for any shredded paper or fabric around areas where pests are likely to hide out, such as behind appliances and inside cupboards and cabinets.
Mice and rats have teeth that are constantly growing, which means they are always looking to chew on things. It doesn’t matter if it is sheet-rock, wood, wiring, plastic, insulation or even pipes – rodents will try and gnaw into it all. This means that they will not hesitate to chew on any furniture you have. If you spot any unexplained bite marks on table or chair legs, there is a strong possibility you have a rodent problem. Also be sure to check skirting boards, floorboards and furniture bases too.
Carpet beetles and garment moths are drawn particularly to things made from natural fabrics, like leather book bindings, upholstery, carpets, curtains, and rugs. However, fabric pests tend to damage woolen carpets the most. Woolen textiles that you dry clean regularly could still be damaged by these kinds of pests, if your home is under attack. The damage usually looks like irregularly shaped holes, in a similar way to leaves that have been eaten by caterpillars.
Furthermore, any new holes in the floors or walls of your home may suggest you have a rodent problem. This is even more likely if you have spotted burrows in sections of your lawn where the grass is longer or around your garbage store.
Rodents tend to use the same pathways to and from their nests, but don’t restrict your search to floors because both mice and rats are excellent climbers. Look for any giveaway signs of urine, droppings, grease marks and footprints.
If you spot any of the above signs of leaks and signs of pests, it is important to deal with them by hiring professionals that can deal with the problems. Failing to do this, could cost you even more money in the long run as well as increasing the amount you will have to spend on repairs.
What is Hard Water?
You’ve likely heard the term tossed around in your lifetime, but how many of us have the slightest clue what “hard water” really is or what kind of effect it has on us or are homes? We’re envisioning only a small number of hands currently raised in the audience, which means that this is a great chance to address this nuisance of society (When we say society, we don’t just mean modern society. Even the Romans dealt with hard water; they performed regular maintenance on Roman aqueducts to remove the accumulating deposits that hindered water flow).
Hard water is a naturally occurring geological process characterized by the presence of the materials calcium and magnesium in our water. Hard water begins as rainwater, becomes groundwater, then filters through limestone, soil, lakes, and rivers. Along the way, the water picks up like calcium, magnesium, iron, and other elements.
The majority of American households experience some level of hard water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is estimated that more than 89% of the water used by consumers in the US can be classified at some level of “hard” water.*
Effects on Humans
There have been a plethora of studies performed over the years on the effects of hard water. As one would expect, there are differing opinions on those effects. The consensus is as follows: There are no serious harmful effects of consuming or interacting with hard water. But the word “serious” is interesting in that sentence. When it comes to hard water, multiple people will define “serious” quite differently.
Skin – The minerals in hard water have a chemical reaction with soap, which makes it more difficult for soap and shampoo to dissolve. The result is soap scum, a nightmare not just for showers, but also skin. That scummy residue blocks pores, choking off the skin’s natural moisture and oils. Irritation follows, and with it, itchy, dry, and flaky skin. And, if individuals already have pre-existing skin problems like psoriasis or eczema, research suggests that they’ll be further irritated by hard water.
Hair – In its quest to aggravate you as much as possible, hard water even wants a piece of your lovely hair. Our hair follicles consist of a system of scales that run down the length of each strand. In healthy hair, the scales are smooth and cohesive. With hard water, the minerals interact with shampoo and lift the scales, leading to:
Rougher, tangled hair
Hair that is more difficult to wash
Eczema of the scalp in some cases
Hard Water’s Effects on Equipment and Plumbing
Hardwater is an equal opportunity nuisance, and its effects go beyond wrecking your hair and making your skin feel like sandpaper. Anything in your home that deals with water can turn into a scummy, scaly victim.
As you know, the minerals in hard water interact chemically with soap, the result of which is “scale” or calcium deposits. Scale is the chalky, off-white substance that remains after the water in your shower has evaporated. You’ll notice the appearance of rampant scale and soap scum more often than you should, meaning that you’ll find yourself in your bathroom or kitchen frequently throwing elbow grease at the problem.
Scale makes messy nightmares of bathtubs, showers, tiles, and fixtures. In the kitchen, hard water deposits produce a spotty and dingy look that appears on drinking glasses, pots, pans, dishes, and silverware. And soap isn’t always necessary to see the effects of hard water. Combine a runny toilet or a dripping faucet with hard water and you’re in for some unsightly rust stains.
The water-related technology in your home also pays the price. Hard water wears out and reduces the efficiency of dishwashers, icemakers, washing machines, and water heaters. And through the gradual buildup of mineral sediments, less water flows through these machines. Professionals estimate that these machines wear out 30% faster, prompting replacement before necessary.
But what about the piping running water into those machines? Your homes pipes are one of the hardest hit aspects of hard water. Scale builds up inside the pipes over time, eventually choking off the flow of water, which opens the door to a host of serious and expensive plumbing issues.
Laundry – Washing clothes in hard water is less than optimal. It’s difficult for soap and clothing to properly interact due to the added minerals in the water. Hard water decreases detergent’s lathering ability and makes it less likely that detergent will properly wash away. As a result, residue accumulates on clothing the same way soap scum accumulates on skin and shower surfaces. Freshness, softness, fragrance are all sacrificed in addition to appearance: washing over time results in a gray/yellowish tint that robs clothes of brightness. And it’s even worse for towels.
How Can You Fix Hard Water?
The first step is to address how “hard” the water is, which you can discover by purchasing one of the DIY kits on the market. If you discover that the problem is substantial, look into the various filtration systems available to consumers.
For drinking and cooking purposes, consider installing an ion exchange filter, either a pitcher or faucet model (experts recommend that you look for a model that allows you to switch between filtered and nonfiltered water. Ion filtered water doesn’t work as well for plant watering, for example, because of the high sodium content).
When it comes to laundry, you can purchase non-precipitating water condition, which arrests the minerals in hard water, prevents the minerals from interacting with soap and clothing, and allows detergent to function properly.
For your entire home, there are several methodologies from which to choose. The technology behind how these options work can get a little sticky, so we’ll give you a brief overview which you can use as a springboard into conducting your own research.
The main options are salt-based water softeners, salt-free softeners, and filters.
Also referred to as ion-exchange softener
Uses salt/sodium to change the chemistry of the calcium/magnesium in the water, thus removing changing the elements
Leverages a filtration tank system that cleans water before releasing into your home
Less ideal for drinking/cooking water and watering plants
Salt-based models are better at providing the real, slick feeling of natural water.
Salt-free Water Softener
With no salt present, calcium and magnesium are not removed or washed out.
Instead, the water is conditioned so that these elements lose their ability to bind to things like soaps and surfaces
The unwanted elements are still present, so water is not actually “softened”
Leverages an actual filter that allows water molecules through but blocks others, including calcium and magnesium
Softens water, removes any funny tastes/smells
Wastes significant amount of water in the process, making it very inefficient for some homeowners
These methods can also be used on a smaller scale on specific faucets and incoming pipes. Finally, as you research the best method for you, consider cost, maintenance, and installation.
Hard water creates serious problems for millions of Americans. Luckily, there are ways to curtail its effects, reducing it from a major problem to a minor inconvenience. If you’re experiencing some of the harmful effects of hard water and it’s ruining items in your home like your pipes, faucets, and water heater, call the Arco team. Whether replacing damaged parts or giving you the best advice to help you work through your problem, we’ve got your back.