Healthy Homes 4: Disease Vectors and Pests Course

This thread is dedicated exclusively for those students currently enrolled in InterNACHI’s free, online Healthy Homes 4: Disease Vectors and Pests Course.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to: understand housing-related health concerns; integrated pest management (IPM) techniques; rodent-associated diseases affecting humans; management strategies exist for controlling pests.

Students are free to pose questions and comments here and join in the conversation with other students. The thread will be monitored by the course instructor.

Contact: Chief Academic Officer, Ben Gromicko ben@internachi.org

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Termite treatment can be an invasive and expensive process for a homeowner. It can often involve drilling and pumping the appropriate termite treatment at set intervals into the soil near the foundation to prevent termite infestation. This requires a licensed professional.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Air sampling for mold inspections can be an excellent tool for locating mold problems within a residence. The need for visual inspection and other data collection methods can also be very important in confirming that there is a mold issue.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Fire ants bodies are divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen, with three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae.

Many species of ants bite, however, the fire ant can sting and cause irritation by spraying formic acid on the skin.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I chose the course on Fall Arrest systems for review. Fall arrest protection is required for any work done above 6 feet. This is a Federal mandate governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Violations of the Fall Arrest guidelines set forth by OSHA can be up to $70,000.00 per violation.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Clearly shown in the image is an improperly sloped gutter. In addition to being an area the will collected debris and retain moisture, these areas will likely hold water puddles. This standing water may contribute to mosquito breeding. All areas around the home capable of ponding water for an extended period of time should be corrected to achieve proper slop and drainage.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The image selected is of termite treatment for slab foundation. Prevention is one of the best way to protect against termite infestation. In addition to prevention techniques used during construction the homeowner also has a duty. Wood should not be in contact with the ground and mulches and other types of products should be used sparingly. At all times, 6-8 inches of clearance should be maintained between the soil and exterior building materials.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Stacking firewood next to the home creates an ideal nesting location for vermin. This wood is being stored on pallets which gives rodents easy access to the underside of the firewood providing protection from the elements and close proximity to the home. This wood should be moved further from the home and raised up onto a rack 18" to 24" from the ground to minimize easy access and eliminate the close, dark environment.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article on rodent inspection provides valuable information on finding signs of infestation by rats and/or mice, what to do to discourage their presence and the care needed when eradicating rodents and how to handle captured rodents or their excrement. Not only do they cause damage, but they also spread disease. Take care or contact a certified pest exterminator for ridding the property of their presence.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Clogged gutters were noted during the inspection of the roof. Stagnant water are breeding areas for mosquitos. It is recommended to have the gutters cleaned for proper drainage and alleviate the potential mosquito problem that is common in the climate and region of this home.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Pellet stoves are much more efficient that wood burning stoves as they produce less ash and burn cleaner. They burn compressed pellets made mostly of organic materials such as corn and wood. They produce less heat so venting and installation requirements are also different from wood stoves.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Excessive moisture conditions in the crawlspace of this house made in the 1950’s due to older plumbing leaking will create a favorable condition for Wood Destroying Organisms, such as Subterranean Termites and wood destroying fungi. We also found wood scraps, some of them under the vapor barrier in the crawlspace which can also be a conducive condition to Wood Destroying Organism development.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I read an article about Moisture Meters for Inspectors. Moisture meters for inspectors come in two types. The traditional pin type has been in use for years and two pins are inserted in the material and electrical resistance is measured and expressed in terms of moisture percentage. Scan type moisture meters emit electromagnetic waves that react differently with moist and dry materials. Scan type moisture meters are useful for hard surfaces such as ceramic tile but metal such as pipes in the walls can give false moisture readings. I have a pin type moisture meter in my inspection bag but rarely use it.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The photo shows the entrance to a crawlspace that appeared damp.
Further investigation revealed that approximately 50% of the crawlspace contained moisture. The excess moisture was caused by a broken planter bubbler spraying water under the home through a foundation vent. This problem needs to addressed immediately in order to avoid unwanted pests such as termites.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article “Termite Control in the
Home” points out that termites cause serious damage to the structure of a home. But all is not lost when dealing with termites. Fortunately there are many ways to handle the infestation. Pest control professionals should be called in to assess the degree of infestation and recommend the best way to treat the problem.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Wood Destroying Organism damage is common to our area. In the image you can see damage to structural members that is consistent with damage caused by termites. Termites tend to eat wood along the grain which is one way to tell the insect causing the damage, other types of wood destroying organisms cause damage by traveling across the grain. The existence of frass can be one sign of an active infestation. In these instances, a WDO inspection may be ideal.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Termite infestation can cause significant structural damage if gone undetected for a lengthy amount of time. Certain precautions can be taken by homeowners to prevent such an event. Many of these suggestions are self explanatory but are important reminders. Never store firewood next to the home as this will generally provide a path for infestation. Also exterior siding should not be in contact with grade as this is another easy access point for termites. Keeping the basement and any crawlspaces dry and clean will also prevent termite activity. Regular monitoring of the perimeter grading, exposed foundation, the sill plate and structural members is recommended to identify any areas of concern in a timely manner.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

One of the most effective ways of managing pest or vector concerns is water and moisture management in and around the home. Fixing plumbing leaks and the drainage issues are key to preventing habitual areas close to the home’s structure. Removing rubbish and maintaining a positive grading away from the home’s exterior, is the best start in managing moisture and vector issues.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Just as much as it an aesthetic concern, having a pest and vector issue is primarily a health concern to occupants of an infested building or home. QUickly identifying what type if insect or vermin that happened to cohabitate the home, parasites and other diseases that are tranported by these creatures can spell desaster to a building’s structure and it’s inhabitants.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

During an inspection of the attic, rodent feces was discovered on the attic access cover. Closer examination revealed that it was left by rats. Rats had nested in the attic insulation. There was a strong odor of urine and visible trails in the attic.