While the stereotype of bats is that they live in caves with colonies numbering from thousands to over a million flying animals, they are quite happy to take up residence in unused residential attic spaces as well. While this fact may be distasteful, it gets worse as bats are typically accompanied by insects known as bat bugs. Here are some of the basics of these parasites:
1) Referred to as ectoparasites, bat bugs live on the skin and in the fur of bats in a colony, feeding on their blood.
2) There are twelve species of bat bugs in North America.
3) Bats bugs, to the naked eye, look almost identical to bed bugs, are the same size, and are commonly mistaken for them. The primary physical difference is that bat bugs have longer and more hair on their bodies. The species that is most commonly mistaken for bed bugs is the eastern bat bug (Cimex adjunctus).
4) Bat bugs will normally stay in the proximity of the colony in a residential attic, but if the colony shrinks in size or migrates out, they will enter the house in an attempt to feed on its residents as well as pets.
Controlling and preventing infestations:
1) The best method of controlling bat bugs is to prevent bats from entering the attic or other spaces that may offer an attractive place to roost. Bats can squeeze through spaces that are as little as one-half of an inch, so the first thing to do is to call for a professional roofing inspection to find potential entry points and then seal them.
2) If bats are already present, take note of their exit and entry points. Bats will normally leave the attic at around dusk and return at dawn and may use different openings for departing and returning.
3) Getting bats out of the attic will probably require the services of a professional bat removal company. Once the bats are removed, the roosting area and its surroundings should be sprayed down with insecticide to control bat bugs.
4) After the bats have been removed and the roosting area has been sprayed, the attic should be cleaned out to remove droppings and remains.
5) Any spaces that were used by the colony for ingress and egress should then be sealed by a professional roofing company to prevent their return.
Probably the biggest reason for the increase in bat and bat bug infestations is suburban sprawl, which brings people closer to where bats live. To prevent both types of infestations, have a professional roofer assess your home for potential entry points and have them sealed as quickly as possible.
Generally speaking, the winter season is the slowest time of the year for roofing projects, primarily due to weather related issues including low temperatures, snow, and/or rain. Despite these challenges new roofs are installed in winter under a variety of circumstances including instances where an old roof is in such poor condition that it can no longer provide protection and home sales that are contingent on a roof replacement to close escrow.
Even if you’re not planning to replace your roof within the next couple of months there are several reasons to start the planning process now, including:
1) The process of determining the best roof takes time – One of the biggest advantages of starting the research process early is that you can take your time to develop an understanding of the various materials to select from as well as any additional work that should be included. For example, if the house is surrounded by trees that lose their foliage, you might want to consider a drainage system that includes gutter guards that keep debris that lands on the roof from clogging gutters and downspouts.
2) Most roof installations benefit from warmer weather – Developing full adhesion and the maximum seal for roofing materials requires outdoor temperatures of around 50 degrees and for the roof structure to reach approximately 70 degrees. This doesn’t necessarily require a thermometer reading of 70 degrees as a roof surface that receives direct sunlight can absorb enough warmth to reach this level with air temperatures of 50 degrees or more.
3) The roofing professionals you consult with will likely have more time to discuss questions and roofing options – With winter being a relatively slow time for installations, roofing professionals have a lot more time for consultations versus the high volume seasons of spring, summer, and fall. This can result in more time to discuss deeper details of your project as well as the sharing of experience and knowledge to provide an “insiders” view of your project.
4) Scheduling – Being the first person on the spring schedule will allow you choose exactly when you want your new roof installed, as certain times such as vacation periods tend to fill up fast. This may not seem like a big deal until you are faced with the decision rescheduling a trip or getting your new roof installed.
Even if you’re not going to put on a new roof this winter, get started with the process now. You’ll have plenty of time to discover the best roofing system for your home and have the first shot of getting on the spring schedule before it starts filling up.
There are all kinds of signs that are indicative of actual and potential roof leaks, some of which become evident long after water has started entering the structure and others that can provide warnings before breaches in the roofing system occur. Generally speaking, the later stage signs will exist on the interior of the structure and include relatively subtle warnings such as water stains and musty/mildewy odors, as well as the ones that can’t be ignored such as water dripping or pouring through the ceiling.
Rather than waiting for signs of a roof leak to become apparent on the inside of the structure, the best way to protect your property is to take a proactive stance that starts with regular inspections of the exterior aspects of the roof. Here are some of the warning signs that may call for proactive measures to prevent future leaks:
- Pooled water – Whether the incline of the roof is steep or flat, pooled water most often indicates that drainage is being blocked, either by leaves or other objects lodged in the gutters and downspouts or the formation of ice along the eaves of the structure. Pooled water that sits long enough can start processes of deterioration in a number of ways including backing up under shingles to break down adhesives, rotting roofing materials, and adding to the weight that the structure must bear. While you may be able to dislodge an obstruction in a gutter, defer to a roofing professional if pooled water is the result of an ice dam.
- Bubbling under the roof cover – The bubbles under a roof cover may be indicative of water that has found entry through a leak in the surface or air that that has been trapped after escaping the interior of the structure through the roof deck. In either case, these types of separations are indicative of an issue that should be handled quickly due to the diminished capacity of the roof cover system to protect the structure.
- Damaged flashing – Flashing is used to prevent leaks in a variety of areas on the roof including its installation around protrusions through the deck such as vents and climate control systems as well as on the perimeter of the roof where it meets the cover. Damaged flashing can result in leaks but can make a roof cover vulnerable to lifting off of the deck in extreme weather and/or high wind events. Flashing should be inspected on a regular basis and after extreme weather events to facilitate fast repairs.
While flat and low-incline roofs can be inspected without bringing in the professionals, as the degree of roof slopes increase they also become more hazardous. Icy roofs also present a variety of dangers, so call a professional roofing company for inspections on steep roofs or for the removal of an ice dam that has formed on the eaves.