Uninvited Guests: Using Caulk for Pest Exclusion
Some things belong outside, like rain, wind … and insects. Everyone occasionally finds an unwelcome guest in their home, and everyone can agree that any kind of insect pest indoors can be anything from a minor inconvenience to, in the case of cockroaches and certain species of ants, a major problem. While exterminators can help, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the toxic chemicals they rely on.
In the most severe cases, some people resort to insect foggers—commonly called "bug bombs." But they require you to leave your home for up to four hours, and even after you return, toxic residue remains on many surfaces. In some cases, these bug bombs can make the people that use them quite ill, with reports of eye and skin problems, and respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiac, and even neurological illnesses.
As Benjamin Franklin once famously wrote, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and in this case prevention seems like a much safer, healthier, and frankly wiser option. To keep insects out of your home, the easiest thing to do is deny them a point of entry, and that means inspecting your home for any small cracks or gaps that are big enough to let them enter.
You'll need a caulking gun, like our standard duty Blue Caulk Gun, or for larger jobs (and costing only a couple of dollars more), our Orange Heavy Duty Caulk Gun fits the bill. Then, of course, you'll need caulk. If you have small joints or seams to fill, something like our Food Grade 100% RTV Silicone Sealant is just the thing—and as the name would suggest, is safe to use everywhere in your home, including your kitchen. Our Neutral Cure Sealant is the highest quality product overall we offer for keeping out critters.
If you've got larger gaps and cracks near exterior walls, you'll want to consider a product like our Expanding Foam Sealant, which comes with its own applicator nozzle and doesn't require a caulk gun to use. If you're filling smaller cracks on exterior walls, you'll want to consider something like our Concrete Elite Expansion Joint Sealant, which does require a caulk gun. Both products are perfectly safe to use around the home, and both products will seal gaps, cracks, and holes quite readily.
When loading the caulk gun, release pressure on the plunger by pressing the release at the rear of the gun with your thumb. Then, pull the plunger all the way back, position the tube of caulk in the gun with the nozzle facing front, and push the plunger tightly into the back of the tube. Once that's done, remove your thumb from the rear release, and the caulk gun is loaded.
Next, cut the tip of the caulk cartridge nozzle so the hole matches the approximate size of the gap that you'll be filling. For smaller gaps, cut close to the tip of the nozzle where it's narrow. For larger gaps, cut further back. When you have the nozzle cut, pierce the inner seal of the caulk cartridge with a nail or other sharp instrument.
The kitchen is a good place to start. Check cabinets for holes or openings. Depending on how they're hung on the wall, they could be covering small gaps that you can't see—or fill in. In that case, you may wish to caulk all the way around the exterior of cabinet units where they meet the wall.
When caulking, hold the gun at a 45° angle and pull (rather than push) the caulk gun for a neater, more effective job. When done, smooth the caulk with a spoon or gloved finger dipped in water or rubbing alcohol.
Make sure the kitchen sink is sealed to the countertop with an unbroken seam of caulk or sealant, and consider caulking the inside seams of any floor mounted cabinets. When in doubt, caulk it—it's safe, it's easy, and it will last for years and years.
Finally, move on to the plumbing. Cockroaches need water even more than they need food, so ensure your plumbing is sufficiently caulked where it meets the wall. Pull the metal flanges at the base of pipes away from the wall and caulk around the pipes. Next, check to be sure your bathtub is caulked all the way around. Check any tiling for gaps and caulk those, too. Don't neglect to caulk the base of the toilet, and around any bathroom cabinetry—and around the sink itself, if it's attached to the wall.
Any gaps in exterior walls can be caulked in much the same way. If you have a serious bug problem, try to find out where they are coming in—and fill that gap with caulk. Before you know it, your home will be pest free, and the bugs will be back where they belong: outside.
Don't hesitate to contact us via our website, or feel free to give us a call at (812) 824-8000. We're always glad to answer any questions you might have.