How are the rats getting in to my property?
Rats in London?
There are thought to be more than 40 million rodents living in Britain and pest control is estimated to cost the UK around £1.2 billion each year. The black death in 1348, which is believed to have killed almost one third of the population in Britain, is widely blamed on rats that carried fleas from Asia. Whilst the health risk to the public today is not as great as many centuries ago, the fact remains that rats still carry many serious diseases. These include Weil’s disease, salmonella, tuberculosis, cryptosporidiosis, E.Coli and foot and mouth disease.
Pest control firms have seen an increase year-on-year in calls for services due to the changing weather and switches from weekly to fortnight bin collections. With many councils introducing cost-cutting refuse rounds, there is an abundance of overflowing bins on household doorsteps to attract the pests.
So are we never more then 6 feet away from a rat?
This is a hard question to answer. Looking at the ratio of rats to humans in the UK, experts believe the figure is closer to 50m. However, this figure will be less in more populated areas such as our cities. Most rats will be dwelling in our sewer systems and with an estimated 1000 rats per square kilometre, the figure of 50m will be dramatically cut due to the rodents being under our feet.
How are the rats getting in?
Rats have a dozen different ways to enter your property. The most common we see on a daily basis is via a damaged waste sewer pipe, or by rats gnawing holes through newly installed flexible waste pipes. Other ways can be via damaged air bricks or vents, burrowing underneath the footings of the property next to the walls edge or climbing up the drain pipe on to the guttering only to then slip underneath the roof tiles into your loft space. There are as you can imagine, a whole host of other ways.
Damage Sewer Pipe
Sewer pipes have been in the ground for decades, if not a century in some areas and over time with the extreme temperatures causes them the expand and contract these can then crack. If you have drainage pipes running underneath your home or work place then it’s these cracks that will allow rats to enter below your property. If an old toilet was removed and the redundant line not taken away or capped off properly then this also will give rats an easy access.
Gnawed Flexible waste pipe
This is such a common occurrence these days. Tradesmen are using flexible waste pipes for ease to save time without realising the consequences. Rats will chew through one of these in minutes, as shown, which will then allow many more rats to enter. If flexible pipes have been installed in a large block or hotel then the damage could cost in the thousands of pounds to repair, not to mention possibly having to re-home guests or tenants.
Rat burrows under your property.
If you have gravel or loose earth next to your property, or a grassy garden within close proximity to an external wall of your building, then rats can create burrows that can lead under and out from below the property. Combating this can be difficult because if you do block up the holes with a suitable material or hard core, the rats will just divert their tunnelling system in a different direction underground and create a new exit or entry.
Up the rain water guttering
As the old saying goes, ”as quick as a rat up a drain pipe”. Rats do move very swiftly up drain pipes and if in danger from predators will also take refuge here. If the guttering is not flush with the floor and has a 3 or 4 inch clearance gap from its bottom to the surface below then the rats will likely climb and investigate. The guttering will almost likely lead to openings underneath roof tiles on your property which rats will take shelter and possibly start a nest once inside. Caps or brushed elements can be fitted to prevent this from happening.
Damaged air vents
The majority of houses in London have air vents or air bricks on the external walls or under door steps. The reason for this is to allow your property to breath and prevent condensation and damp being formed which in turn will create mould. These vents will likely be made out of plastic or steel which over time will begin to crack or rust due to the weather conditions. Rats, if in the close vicinity of your home will be able to sense the heat and smells dissipating through these vents and will attempt to gain entry by gnawing (biting). They will know fairly quickly if the plastic or steel is weak enough to break and bend. Rats will either give up or keep attempting if they think the vent is weak enough to allow them entry.
Damage to an external wall
Like anything exposed to the elements, over time these things will start to become weak and possibly fall apart. Your wooden facias/soffits and cement is no different. The wooden areas may become softer and begin to warp allowing a rodent a far easier task gnawing on a damp soft piece of wood than hard. The cement pointing may also start to crumble over time with the extreme temperatures, contracting in the winter months and expanding in the summer months allowing damage. It’s these openings created over time that allow rodents an easy entry point into the cavities of your home.
Another common entry point is where services, such as the waste water pipes, gas and electrical cables enter and exit the building. One of the most popular entry points for rodents in commercial buildings is the Air Conditioning services. This is due to the vast amount of cables along with their bulkiness which makes sealing up difficult for tradesmen. The external units are usually also sitting close to the ground allowing it a simple task for rodents to hop on.
Out the toilet
On occasion, rats will make there way up and out of the toilet itself. We get asked a lot, how did the rat get in and out the toilet? It’s quite obvious if you think about it. The pipes at the back of your toilet lead directly to the sewer. Most rats live and breed in the sewer system therefore they can easily get to the back of your toilet. Most rats will not like submerging there heads in water, so when a rat is sat at the back of the toilet it will likely turn around and go back the way it came for fear of not knowing what lies beyond the water trap. That said, it’s believed if a rat does it once, there is a good chance it will carry on exiting out of toilets in search of food because it now knows it’s safe to do so by squeezing through the toilets water trap. A special one way valve can be fitted in the line to prevent this. Follow this National Geographic video link here to see how easily it can happen.
Check Check Check
Above are just ‘some’ of the most common ways rodents can enter a premises. We would strongly suggest carrying out a thorough survey before moving into any property. We would also recommend you ask the previous owners or tenants of any pest control issues that may have occurred in the past. The last thing you need when moving into a new home or commercial premises is being plagued by rodents that can cause you untold stress, as well as hit you where it hurts the most, your pocket!