James could hardly contain himself when he spotted the stucco Spanish Revival house, its terra cotta roof striking a high contrast against the stark white structure. The brick walkway undulated inviting though a small courtyard garden surrounded by arches. He checked the price not once, but three times before calling his wife, Paula, breathless.
They closed on their beauty in just 35 short days and moved in immediately. James was excited to get started painting and decorating. Paula was the more methodical one, preferring to size each room up before making any hasty decisions. They were very different in their approaches, but somehow it worked and it was decided they’d sleep on any major renovations.
As the couple were drifting off to dreams of demolition and paint swatches, they heard a loud scratching sound coming from inside the walls, followed by a patter-patter-patter on the hardwood floors. More scratching, more patters, the couple gave each other a knowing look — tomorrow they’d have to call a professional.
Most houses make some noises at night due to the way that heating and cooling causes wood to expand and contract. The older the house and more extreme the day and night temperature differences, the more likely you’re going to hear creaking or groaning coming from wooden elements. Sometimes you can fix this by resecuring wooden floor slats, for example. Sometimes it’s just a sound you have to get used to.
As long as your home inspector or structural engineer gave you the all-clear, there’s nothing to worry about from those noises. However, there are plenty of other noises and signs you should be aware of that mean it’s time to call a pest controller in. We made a list of the most common and easiest to suss out.
#1. Scratching in the walls. It sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but scratching, rustling or chewing sounds coming from inside the walls could indicate a rodent infestation. Usually these are accompanied by more material evidence in secret, dark places like kitchen cabinets, but not always. Pros will get to the heart of the colony and remove your mouse problem for good.
#2. High pitched noises at dusk. Having bats outside your house can be a massive boon since they eat mosquitos voraciously, but having them in your attic or fireplace can be a nightmare because many species are protected and can’t be harmed or even moved for several months out of the year. A pro will help you bat-proof your house so they don’t come in from the outside or get them out without harming them if they’re already in.
#3. Weird discoloration bleeding through the walls. Let’s just make a distinction here. If the walls are actually bleeding, get out of the house right away and find an exorcist. However, if the wall is just discolored and it seems to be coming in from the backside, a pest control expert can help. This is often a sign of one of many insect infestations, all of which are fairly harmless to you, but can really damage your house.
#4. Ants going marching one by one across the kitchen counter. Ants aren’t disease carriers and unless they’re fire ants, pose almost no danger to you. However, they will eat you out of house and home, which is a really good reason to get rid of those little mooches. Ants can be tricky to completely evict, it usually requires a multiple-front approach, but pest controllers have the right stuff.
#5. Neatly bored, perfectly round holes in unpainted decks and siding. You might have noticed some quarter-sized holes bored in unpainted wood around your house and thought “Hmm, I wonder what that’s all about.” Well, chances are really good that it’s all about carpenter bees. These guys are a mixed blessing, but you probably want to evict them if you can because they’ll continue to drill holes year after year and eventually that could become an issue. The good news is that the giant males that hover outside those holes lack a stinger, so you don’t have to worry about them when they try to dive bomb you.
#6. Any accumulation of sawdust-like material or droppings. If you see tunnels, droppings or frass, which is a sort of insect poo, you definitely want to call a pro in to do a much more thorough investigation. Boring bugs like termites and beetles can seriously mess up your house; those other crawly critters that leave their luggage behind are also pretty unwelcome guests and can be hard to get rid of on your own.
It’s easier to kill bugs and catch wayward mammals and reptiles when your house is still empty, so if you notice any signs of pests before you move in or before you’re unpacked, this is definitely the best time to get started. Getting into the tight spots that may later be filled with books or furniture is important when implementing a really effective pest management plan. It’s not that a pest control professional can’t get rid of your problem with a house full of stuff, it just becomes a much larger challenge since the pests have more places to hide.
James called the pest control expert his Realtor recommended through the HomeKeepr app and they quickly located his unwanted tenants. That night, James and Paula were lulled to sleep by the soft groans of their new ancient hardwood floors, not the clawing and chewing of mice in the wall. You can be like James and Paula, just use HomeKeepr to connect to all the best home pros in your area. If you’re still planning your move, take us with you by downloading our Move-In Checklist, designed to help you stay organized through those messy moments.