I received a package the other day. When I saw it on the front stoop, of course I was excited. Who isn’t thrilled these days when something they ordered finally shows up? (Especially if you can't remember what you ordered after that second glass of wine...*)
After the initial burst of exhilaration and anticipation, there was some disappointment. The box was not in good shape. There was a single piece of packing tape over the top which was offset and one flap of the box had come up and open. There was packing material spilling out and I was concerned the bottom was going to fall out when I picked it up. It was obvious that the contents in the box had shifted quite a bit and there was some damage.
We can look at our structures much like my package. You have a box, and you want to keep it sealed up and secured against pests. Your box is a lot more complicated than my Amazon package, but the principles are the same. The execution is the challenge!
Seal it up.
All openings that lead from the outside to the inside should be sealed. My poor little box from Amazon had one piece of tape over the top. It didn’t cover the side openings and the bottom was suspect. Pests are going to use those gaps to enter. In a large structure like a warehouse you may have dozens of dock doors, plenty of personnel doors, and countless other openings from air-handling units, electrical conduits, and vents. This is more daunting than a simple cardboard box, however ensuring all these are sealed will keep pests on the outside where they belong. It can help to prioritize: those openings you know are absolutely letting in pests now can be put at the top of the list while others that might not be active pathways can be scheduled later.
Use the right tools.
My box had a single, barely sticky piece of tape. If they had used a heavy duty packing tape with extra-sticky properties, this single piece may have been sufficient. When sealing, use the tools that are going to do an adequate and long lasting job. Just as I want my precious package protected with high quality tape to secure my goods, you want to use high quality products to seal your building. In a structure like a restaurant, using cheap brush seals on the door is not going to last very long or be as effective as using a metal reinforced, self-adjusting, 10y guaranteed door seal. Mice are going to chew through that in no time at all. You get what you pay for and while “cheap” options may do in the short term, long term they are not going to hold up. The exception to this is putting up any type of sealing while you wait on supplies or paperwork. Anything is better than a gaping hole and you can tell where rodents or insects have chewed through.
I very carefully opened my box, knowing something may have gotten in or something damaged may be leaking. By monitoring around your suspect points, you can monitor how things are going, and prevent issues from spreading. Consider a hotel having a fly issue. Installing fly light monitors by each door allowed us to track which doors needed sealing. By consistently monitoring, they could tell early on when a door seal was breaking down and fix it quickly, keeping fly issues out. Just like using the right tools for sealing, you need the right tools for monitoring and in the right places. If you have mouse traps at ground level, that’s not going to help you monitor roof rat activity.
I immediately informed the company of my damaged box and that the items inside were less than pristine. If I hadn’t told anyone, the problem may have continued and even gotten worse. Make sure all the employees at the site know the basics of what to look for and who to tell. If you are in an audited facility, this is an audit requirement! More times than I can count, I have talked to folks in a facility having an issue and they knew exactly what I was talking about and almost precisely when it started. When asked if they told someone about it, the response is too often: who would I tell? Make sure there is a process in place to report issues. If no one knows the box is broken, the box won’t get fixed.
If the box had been properly sealed, there wouldn’t have been any issues. If your site is properly sealed, it prevents pests from getting in and establishing. When was the last time you took a good look around your “box” to see where the entry points are? Want more information on exclusion and pests? Contact us here!
*if you were wondering, it was cat food and solar lights.
Lagniappe - sealing lessons: