As a buyer, you’ll want to scope out a home in great detail before you agree to put in an offer. In addition to making sure the layout and finishes tickle your fancy, you will also want to be sure that the actual structure and all of its components are sturdy and in good working order.
But one more thing you’ll want to add to the list of things to check out when house hunting is a potential pest infestation. Aside from actually catching them in the act, how can you tell if there are pests lingering in a home?
The following are some telltale signs that a home is likely infested with pests.
1. Pest Droppings
One of the most obvious signs that there are pests lingering in a home are droppings. It certainly sounds nasty, and it is, but pest droppings are a telling sign that pests have settled in a home and made it their own.
You can tell what types of pests are in the home from these droppings. Some pest droppings are pretty obvious, such as those left behind by rats and mice. But smaller pest droppings might not be so obvious, so it’s important to learn what different pest droppings look like so you can tell who’s lurking.
It should be noted that these droppings must be handled with great care. Many droppings can potentially be carrying harmful bacteria, which is why they should only be removed with the appropriate gear. Once the droppings have been removed, the area needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
Pests typically like to settle in houses simply because they’re warm and safe from the elements. Once they’ve found a place to stay, they will typically set up shop and even create nests for them to huddle in. If you find nests in a home, the odds are pretty high that there is some sort of pest family living there.
Nests not only mean that pests are present, it also means that they’re likely to multiply. Nests are typically found in quieter, darker spaces, so be sure to look in places such as behind appliances or holes in the wall or floor.
Certain types of pests like to gnaw at floors, walls, and furniture, so if you notice any mysterious holes in and around the home, there is probably a pest colony dwelling there. Rats, in particular, love to chew, so gnaw marks are a clear indication of a pest problem. They may also chew on electrical wiring, so be sure to scope these items out as well.
4. Track Marks
While pests typically like to hang out in areas of light traffic, they’ll typically come out to play when the coast is clear. That said, they’ll often leave track marks behind on their travels, leaving you plenty of evidence of a problem. And don’t just look on the floors for track marks, as they may also be left behind on walls.
5. Damaged Plants
Certain types of pests – particularly rats, mice, and raccoons – love to chew on plant leaves and grass blades. As such, they’ll leave behind a trail of damaged greenery. Mice may even chew the grass down to the soil, leaving behind a trail of missing grass.
6. Strange Noises
Mice, rats, cockroaches, and other pests are definitely quiet, which makes them tough to find. But they’re not completely hushed. They still make subtle noises when they’re in motion, especially at night when they tend to be more active. You just might be able to hear quiet little footsteps on floors, ceilings, and even behind walls. You might even be able to hear gnawing or scratching noises, so keep your ears open.
7. Odd Smells
Certain smells will be indicative of the presence of pests, and different types of pests will leave behind different smells. You may notice a pungent sweet odor that is indicative of ammonia, which means there are urine trails around the house. Any off-putting smells in a home should certainly be looked into.
8. Termite Damage
Termites leave behind very obvious signs that they are present in a home. In addition to the damage to flooring and furniture, they may leave more subtle signs of existence, such as sagging floors and hollow-sounding wood from all their chewing. Termites are highly destructive and can seriously compromise the structural integrity of a home, so you’ll definitely want to rule out their presence before buying a home.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve noticed even just one red flag, you will definitely want to have it checked out. If the seller has not already disclosed a known pest issue, you may want to insist on having a professional in pest control visit the home to verify whether or not a problem exists.
If there is a problem, you may want to insist that the seller rectify it before you take possession of the home. Of course, you could always walk away from the deal if the issue is too much for you to deal with, as long as you’ve inserted the appropriate contingency. Only when you know all the pertinent details about a property can you make an informed purchasing decision.