October 20 – 26 is Rodent Awareness Week. How often do you think about rodent management as a critical component of your overall construction plan?
Construction is booming across the U.S., with both cities and rural areas seeing investments in new properties and renovations. Even with construction slowing as winter approaches, it is important to make sure that rodent management doesn’t get overlooked. To make it easier to tackle, take a regimented approach to rodent management by breaking it down into three distinct phases.
This three-phase approach ensures that your rodent management plan evolves as your project does. Whether the project is new construction or a renovation or expansion of an existing structure, this phased approach can be applied to deliver the maximum level of rodent protection for your site, your workers, and your customers.
WHY RODENT MANAGEMENT IS CRITICAL FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
A rodent management plan during construction exists to protect the structure as it is being built, but also to help contain rodent activity within a site so that it doesn’t create issues for the surrounding area, businesses, or homes.
Mice and rats can cause a number of issues during construction, from damaging structures and wiring to spreading dangerous pathogens that compromise the safety of workers. In addition, rodents can quickly migrate to neighboring properties and communities, creating serious health concerns and nightmare public relations situations.
Construction personnel should remember that rodents can take advantage of the smallest gaps and cracks to access a structure. Mice can squeeze through openings as small as a ¼-inch and rats don’t need much more space. The work that construction professionals do each day can significantly impact whether or not a space remains rodent-free.
Developing a documented plan – and taking action on that plan – can help avoid unanticipated rodent issues further down the line, saving time and money in dealing with problems.
PHASE I – PRE-GROUNDBREAKING OR PROJECT START: ANTICIPATING RODENT ISSUES
No two construction sites are alike and each comes with its own unique rodent pressures. Conducting a pre-construction pest management evaluation is the best way to properly assess the environment, the potential rodent concerns, and put the best protections in place.
- Call in a pest management professional with local expertise to perform the site evaluation. They will understand the rodent pressures in the area and be able to alert you to activity that might be created by construction.
- Discuss any plans for soil removal.
- Ask questions about how construction may impact neighboring properties and what fenceline protections can reduce or eliminate those risks.
- Talk about your plans for trash management so that your pest management professional can assist you with the best dumpster placement to reduce the likelihood of exacerbating rodent issues.
- Evaluate vegetation issues and what may need to be removed to eliminate rodent harborage.
- Install discussed rodent protection measures along the fenceline, at a minimum, prior to groundbreaking.
PHASE 2 – CONSTRUCTION / RENOVATION: ACTIVE RODENT MANAGEMENT
During construction, rodent management moves into the active phase. There should be two goals in mind: containing any rodent activity caused by construction disruption of the environment and eliminating conditions that can attract other rodents to the property.
- Ensure that fenceline protections are serviced on a pre-established basis with your pest management provider.
- Work with your pest management provider to introduce rodent control measures into the structure and framework.
- For renovations, make sure that any areas that open to an existing structure have the appropriate rodent control measures in place to prohibit rodents from gaining access.
- Properly seal any openings around pipes, cables, and access to sewer lines, main plumbing, and electrical lines. Rodents often travel these routes.
- Replace any damaged rodent bait stations or traps immediately. Heavy machinery, trucks, and forklifts, can run over or damage equipment. Check the integrity of all stations and traps part of your daily routine.
- Manage trash. Ensure that all dumpsters have lids. For dumpsters that must remain open, ask personnel not to use them for food remnants. Have trash removed at a regular frequency; discuss appropriate frequency with your pest management professional.
- Do not leave debris piled up around the site. Rodents will use debris piles as harborage.
- Remind personnel not to leave trash behind. Do daily sweeps to ensure trash is cleaned up. Rodents and other pests can be attracted to food remnants, wrappers, and beverages. These items can inadvertently get sealed into walls and other spaces and cause pest issues after the structure is occupied.
PHASE 3 – POST-CONSTRUCTION: ATTENDING TO RODENT MANAGEMENT DETAILS
As construction or renovation wraps up, review this post-construction checklist to ensure that all the details have been addressed and that the finished project is secure against rodent entry.
- Are all plumbing and electrical lines sealed?
- Are doors hung properly, with jambs sealing flush?
- Have door sweeps been installed to prevent rodents from accessing the structure by simply wriggling in through gaps under doors?
- Has the roofline been inspected for gaps that could allow rodent entry, particularly any areas at corners where construction materials are joined?
- If chimneys are present, have chimney caps been installed?
- Are any exterior vents, both high and low, covered to prevent rodent entry?
- Have any areas where pipes or cables enter the building been sealed with rodent-proof materials such as 1/8-inch wire mesh, flashing, hardware cloth, or silicone caulk?
- Has vegetation been cleared from the foundation of the building?
- Has vegetation and trees been trimmed back away from the roofline? Rats are especially good climbers and will use overhanging tree branches and vegetation to access the building.
Bringing it all together
Rodent management can often be an afterthought during construction until a problem arises. By sitting down with a pest management professional before your project starts, you can work together to develop a comprehensive plan that reduces the likelihood of rodents on your construction site and limits impacts on the neighboring community.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Robert Lockwood is a Technical Service Manager for Rentokil Terminix and an Associate Certified Entomologist. A 16-year veteran of the pest management industry, Robert is a member of the Connecticut Environmental Council and Connecticut Apartment Association. He holds a degree in construction from New Haven Technical College.
About Rentokil Terminix
Rentokil Terminix is the leading provider of residential and commercial services in North America. The company provides health, hygiene, and environment services, and pest management services, including protection against termites, mosquitoes, rodents and other pests.Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company is part of Rentokil Initial plc (NYSE: RTO), one of the largest business services companies in the world. To learn more, visit EnhancedPestControl.com, or linkedin.com/company/rentokilterminix.