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Seal Of Approval: Sealing Off Your Home To Unwanted Guests:

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Settling in a home often means choosing one in the right location. After all you know what they say, “location, location, location”. But besides the scenery and convenience, you’ll want to choose a home that’s safe and not very welcoming to intruders. But home intrusions, by rascally rodents can be almost unavoidable, especially as temperatures plummet, and they too are looking for a nice warm space to hang out in during the winter.

In fact, according to experts, some of those “strange” noises you may hear during the day (if you’re at home) or in the middle of the night, may be an unexpected visit by some unexpected (and often uninvited and unwanted guests). They note that a mouse can make its way through a quarter-inch slit in the wall, and a rat can fit through a hole the size of a quarter. Furthermore they add, that many little critters invite themselves in via gaps in the wall around cable, conduit or pipes, as well as cracks in the foundation, mortar that need re-pointing, holes in siding, etc.

Once they’ve found a way in, they easily make themselves comfortable along freeways between floors, up and down pipes, under sinks, inside walls, between cupboards, through drawers, and behind appliances. Plus, once they feel safe and secure, they let their guard down and get their groove on, which often means expanding their (rodent) family (under YOUR roof).

But, especially if you’re working, how will your know if your have boarders in your homes. Well, for one thing, if you’ve got a cat and it constantly stress at the basement ceiling, that’s a good warning sign to heed or if you notice some droppings in cupboards or in the pantry, or if the bar of soap seems to have taken on a new shape (rounded instead of squared off) over night (no, it’s not the humidity).

Keep in mind that you’re better off keeping these critters out than trying to get rid of them once they are in. While traditionally steel wool has acted as the “ideal” barrier for rodents, they frequently muscle their way through it, so experts suggest using expanding foam sealant instead.

There are two types of foam sealant. The first consist of polyurethane products and the second of latex-based products. Both are adequate for filling in gaps and holes that are too big to pack with caulking. Polyurethane foam however, cures to a rigid but porous texture and can be manipulated (with a bread knife) into a suitable shape. Latex, on the other hand, cures to a spongy, non-pliable texture, but can be molded while still setting. Both types adhere to almost anything including wood, aluminum, masonry, galvanized steel, plastic, rubber, drywall, glass, etc.

Experts recommend using expanding foam at the end of the fall, beginning of winter to rodent-proof your home. Make sure to fill in crack and holes under sinks, in and around foundation, chimneys and siding. And, they note, that besides keeping rodents out, expandable foam can help keep the look of your home “in” (tip-top shape), plus, it has other advantages including:

· Foam acts as a form-fitting barrier to the elements, and has no nutritional value so it doesn't attract insects or rodents.

· Foam doesn't support the growth of mould or fungus in damp conditions.

· It doesn't smell badly as you're using it, or after it's cured.

· Many brands of foam are free of volatile organic compounds that pollute the environment.

· Foam efficiently seals air leaks that compromise the energy-efficiency of your home.

· Foam sets up quickly, fills large voids, deadens sound, is airtight and water resistant and conforms to any shape as it expands.

· Foam can (and should) be painted after it's fully cured to protect it from UV light, which causes discoloration and deterioration.

For those who are working with expanding foam for the first time, experts suggest using the low-expansion variety. If however, you pick up the high-expansion type, make sure to use it gently and sparingly. High expansion types tend to expand 200-300 percent over a few hours, hence experts suggest using only 35 to 50% of what you think in necessary for the job. Applying it heavy handedly will result in unsightly globs of unwanted and uncured foam spilling out of crevices, rolling down your walls and oozing all over the place. Although it cleans up with acetone, it doesn’t do so easily and experts note you’ll only have more work cut out for you. And they add, that the package generally notes that once the substance is cured, the only way to remove it is by sanding. By the way, it’s also quick to adhere to skin, so you may want to contemplate wearing gloves.

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