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Ask the Carey Brothers

Question: We have a 2 1/2-story wood frame home in the country. This property is well kept, and there is no junk of any kind around the premises. It is clean inside and outside. However, we cannot get rid of the flies in the attic area. Over the years we have sprayed the attic with various bug killers and used sulfur bombs. The flies keep showing up by the hundreds. We clean out a bunch of dead flies and there are more. What can we do to get rid of the flies? Help! – AnthonyAnswer: When is a fly not a fly? When it’s a termite that looks like a fly! We can’t help but wonder if you are mistaking these alleged flies for a swarm of winged termites. According to pest control experts, swarming is an uncommon sight inside homes and is a sure sign of advanced infestation. This would also explain why the bug killers have not worked.In either case, it sounds like you have pest problems. We suggest that rather then being thwarted by these “flies,” you enlist the help of a pest exterminator or a structural pest control operator. These technicians should not only be able to identify your problem, but come up with a solution that will cure it permanently.Question: We have just discovered water (moisture) underneath our new house. I used a plant moisture meter instrument under the house as there was no evidence of puddles, but something we stored underneath the house had a musty smell. The moisture meter measured “wet.” On a scale of 10 it measures an 8. I put the metal rod into the ground only two inches which tells me that the water is just beneath the surface.My questions are: If there is proper ventilation, do we have anything to worry about as far as deterioration of the foundation, walls, etc? Is there anything that can be done to correct this permanently? Could this cause mold on the walls in our home? – HaroldAnswer: The obvious question is, what were you doing storing something in the crawl space under your home? And, if it was something other than a fine vintage wine then the fact that it has a musty smell doesn’t surprise us.While we suggest that you make every effort to keep the crawl space under your home dry, it would be unrealistic to assume that this area is too damp just because something that you have stored there smells musty. Furthermore, although clever, we believe that the plant moisture meter may not be the most reliable testing device in this situation, especially since you are dealing with such a vast area. Nonetheless, the fact that the moisture meter measures 8 is not alarming. Excessive dampness in the crawl space could result in mold or mildew on the walls in your home especially if there is poor air circulation throughout the house.Since construction of your home was subject to current building codes, there should be adequate ventilation in the crawl space to minimize the amount of moisture there. However, even with proper ventilation there are several other steps that you must follow in order to keep the space dry.First, make sure that all of the soil that surrounds the perimeter of your home is graded or sloped away from the foundation for at least three feet. This will prevent surface runoff from traveling under the home.Secondly, if your home doesn’t have rainwater gutters we suggest that you make this one of your prewinter home improvement projects and install them around the entire house. It’s also important that all rainwater downspouts be connected to a drainage system that will take the water out to the curb.And finally, be conscious of your watering habits around the perimeter of your home. Too much water or sprinklers that spray up against the house will keep your crawl space damp due to capillary action.


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