Twas the night before building maintenance, and all through the facility, not a creature was stirring - at least not in plain visibility. Let's face it: Pests are a huge problem, and part of what makes them so frustrating is that they are often hard to find and even harder to remove. They can wreak havoc on food supplies, do damage to mechanical and even threaten the health of tenants. On the ninth day of maintenance, we have the lowdown on pest problems, from prevention to elimination, so you can keep your facility closer to the storybook version of events.
More than just mice
Pests are any kind of insect or animal that are destructive or otherwise unwanted in your facility, and there are plenty of them you could end up facing. Rats, mice, cockroaches and ants are just some of the bigger nuisances, though you may find yourself grappling with fruit flies, fungus, gnats and a variety of pantry pests, such as beetles and moths, according to the California Department of Health.
Each one of these creatures poses its own set of problems. Animals and bugs can aggravate asthma and allergies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Mice and rats not only chew through electrical cords, they can get stuck inside machinery and stop up operations. Gnats can even clog filters.
Why you have them
There are many reasons why you might get pests. Like humans, they love food, water and shelter, according to the CDPH. Open food will attract animals, and if your facility is poorly sealed, you're practically inviting them over for Christmas dinner. Rain, flood and cold will also drive animals into your facility if it's dry. If parts of the facility are moist and dark inside, you may attract some insects. Sometimes people may serve as a personal escort by bringing in house plants or carrying eggs unwittingly on their clothing.
The point is, there is a myriad of ways you may end up with pests, and the culprit may not be obvious. Proper maintenance management means keeping on top of these problems, both by preventing them and acting fast when you develop a pest problem.
Prevention first, then action
The best defense is a good offense. Once you have pests, it can be a huge hassle to eliminate them. The easiest way to prevent some of the most common pests is by keeping food safely stored. Fruit should be placed in refrigerators overnight, unless you want gnats and mice in the morning. Garbage cans should be regularly cleaned, as well as refrigerators. The Natural Resources Defense Council provides advice for homeowners, but they apply equally to facilities. You should make sure entryways are properly sealed. You should also routinely check other places where animals might get in, such as the base perimeter of the building and roofs, especially if they are wooden and liable to rot.
If prevention is your first step, then action is a very close second. Some people like to use pesticides, but the EPA notes that many chemicals that are toxic to pests can also be poisonous to humans. You may still find yourself in need of them, anyway, but there are alternative methods worth trying, such as a strong vacuum to pick up bugs or traps for rodents.
Do what makes sense
A common strategy for pests is Integrated Pest Management, which is an environmentally-minded approach to managing pests through common-sense practices, according to the EPA. Common sense starts with having a plan and following through with it. Maintenance management software can help keep track of work orders as well as routine maintenance, so that you never forget to clean a kitchen or investigate the squeaking in your walls.