January 28, 2017
Since 2009 we have been going into the homes of Long Island residents to help them improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The work we have done have helped to make these home safer, healthier, greener and more importantly for the homeowners, less expensive to run. Homes that are not properly insulated and weather-proofed result in the homeowners paying more to heat their homes in winter and cool their homes in summer.
Unfortunately for some of the homeowners we have helped, we have discovered other issues due to improperly insulated and weather-proofed attics that create other health and safety concerns for those living in those homes. More specifically, the infiltration of the home by insects, birds and rodents. When these occur, serious health issues can develop that will cause avoidable health costs that will not abate until the infiltration is dealt with.
For many who read this, you have probably discovered a minor issue along these lines such as ants inside your home in the summer or perhaps a small hornet’s nest in the soffits or eaves of your home. These can easily and quickly be dealt with using ant baits or any number of insect sprays on the market. But what about more serious issues such as the ones in the images below.
In the case of the photo to the right, the homeowner did not
regularly use their attic and the massive nest show in the picture formed. Fortunately, the insect architects who built this massive hive did not enter the living space of the home and when we discovered it the hive was dormant. While hornets and wasps do not carry other diseases, their stings can be quite dangerous.For homes with larger issues in terms of gaps in roofing and soffits, birds and small vermin can also get in the home. In the split image below, we recently discovered a large amount of bird excrement as well as what appeared to be a nest for an as of yet unknown animal. Based on the amount of bird excrement and the size of the nest, this situation had been going on for a long time.
This situation was again due to the combination of an improperly sealed and insulated attic and a lack of use of the attic by the homeowner. The health implications of this situation are far worse that the hornet’s nest because of the potential risks such as:
- Bird mites – the mites that are present in the feathers of birds migrate to their nests when the birds establish the nest. When these nests are established in homes, the mites will eventually migrate from the nest into the house. Mite feed on blood and human blood.
- Bird droppings - as with any excremental substances, diseases are prevalent. From the bird and animal kingdom, the risks are extremely high.
- Raccoons and Opossums – along with rabies that can be contracted if bitten by either of these (a risk for both humans and pets), both of these critters can carry infectious diseases such as leptospirosis, tuberculosis, coccidiosis, canine distemper and roundworm to name but a few
In both cases, professional removal and clean-up is required to ensure that the situation is eradicated. Along with situations like this, the energy efficiency assessment will often discover issues of mold and mildew, two more living organisms that can wreak havoc on the health of your home and your family.
DISCLAIMER – While energy assessments performed by Green Team LI and others in our industry can discover situations like the ones described, any concerns a homeowner has should be addressed with companies and governmental departments that specialize in the complete detection, removal and clean up to ensure that any health and safety risks arising from these problems are dealt with properly. Green Team LI does not claim to be an expert in the detection of such issues or in the addressing of them. We attest only to occasional discovery of issues such as the ones detailed in this blog post.