6 Tips to Keep Drain Pipes Pest Free

Are pests damaging your plumbing system?

If you’ve ever had to deal with pests in your Outer Banks home or vacation rental, then you know how much of a nuisance they can be. Not only are they invading your space, but they can also be destructive while they work to make your house their home.

One thing many people don’t consider is the damage they could do to your plumbing system.  Pests often work their way into your plumbing pipes looking for a drink or a warm place to sleep (not to mention access to food).

How do these rodents enter your plumbing?

Your home doesn’t have to be under construction to give these furry little guys an easy way in.  For some, mice for example, only need a space the diameter of a quarter to make their way inside.  Rats need a bit more space – like a half dollar.

Stack Pipe

Most invaders come in from the ground but can also come in from above ground; through a hole next to a pipe or your roof’s stack pipe vent.  A stack pipe is a vertical pipe attached to the drain line and runs through the roof of your home. It channels exhaust gases to the vent and helps maintain proper atmospheric pressure in the waste system.

Prolific climbers, like chipmunks or tree frogs, can climb to your roof from a tree branch or from the gutters and enter through the vent.  From there, they can get into your drainpipes leading into your home.

If you’ve ever had a frog suddenly appear in your bathroom, chances are it traveled a long way up through the pipe that leads to your toilet bowl. These little guys are able to survive on land and water but need water to survive over the long term.

Keeping your drainpipes free of pests

In order to keep pests from treating your home like a Motel 6 you’ll need to thoroughly investigate possible entry points in and around your home; inside and out.  Here are a few preventative steps to keep these intruders out.

  1. Examine entry points from the exterior of your home. Using a hand mirror, walk around the foundation of your home and look for any holes the size of a nickel or more.  Particularly in the outside corners where two walls meet.
  2. Next, check the interior of your home where your plumbing pipes meet the wall or cabinets, or areas that could lead to an outside wall.
  3. Contact a professional to examine your stack pipe. A cap or screen may be needed if there are any spaces that are large enough for a pest to enter.  It’s very important to ensure that there are still openings to release the gas and fumes.  Do not block the vent!
  4. Seal cracks or openings inside and outside your home. Spray foam is not recommended because mice don’t mind chewing through the foam.  Caulk, a copper scouring pad (difficult and unappealing for them to chew), or steel wool will work to fill these holes.
  5. Repair leaks you may have in faucets, drainpipes or toilets. Insects, salamanders, and other tiny friends may find their way in through cracks or take up shop to lay their eggs.
  6. Keep your drainpipes clean to discourage any squatters. Tips can be found here.

What about bacteria?

Aside from pests, bacteria can also impact the performance of your plumbing pipes.  Iron, sulfur and food can generate bacteria that can easily grow in that environment, causing a build up of slime that can clog your pipes.  Keeping your water heater at a temperature of about 140 degrees can make the environment less hospitable for bacteria.

Protecting your home from these issues takes a little extra effort, but once you’ve covered all the bases, you’ll enjoy fewer interruptions and better performance from your plumbing system.