Using vinyl siding on a home or business is an affordable and easy way to give your structure a durable exterior. There are lots of reasons to use vinyl rather than wood: it retains its color and integrity longer, is available in a wide range of styles, textures, and colors. It also resists mold and mildew, is easy to install and replace, and enhances the curb appeal of your property. The ability of vinyl to stand up against the elements without needing regular replacement or maintenance is probably the leading factor in the decision to use it.
It is important to note, however, that vinyl does not make your property impervious to one of the most insidious forms of property damage: pests. Knowing what kind of insects and animals can cause damage to vinyl, or to the structure underlying the siding, and the signs left by those pests, can help you properly mitigate the problem before it becomes too extensive.
Insects Under the Siding
While a structure with vinyl siding will not suffer termite damage to its siding, termites can still cause damage to the wood structure underneath the siding. Because the siding itself might not immediately appear damaged when this happens, it is important to pay close attention to any warping or buckling in the siding that might indicate changes to the underlying wood. Pay particular attention to places where termites are more prone to get under the siding, such as at ground-level, at the foundation line, or around windows, doors, and chimneys. Make sure that all flashing is intact and firmly in place. One way to determine if there is damage to the wood beneath the siding is to press is slightly; if it gives easily and feels soft, the wood may be damaged.
Termites are not the only insects that can get underneath siding and cause damage to the underlying wood. Wasps, bees, earwigs, roaches, stink bugs, and ants are some of the other insects who can be attracted to the warm, protected environment under vinyl siding. Some, such as bees or wasps, will likely be audible buzzing under the siding. Many of these insects will also cause damage that will result in visible warping or buckling of the siding. Some, however, may also leave small holes in the vinyl. Replacing in a timely fashion any panels that are damaged in this way is particularly important since holes can lead to moisture getting underneath the siding and causing further damage to the wood beneath.
Insects On the Siding
Probably the most common form of pest damage with vinyl, however, is staining from insects. Fortunately, this staining is almost always limited to the surface of the siding and, since vinyl is easily washable, can be cleaned off with a standard siding-cleaning application or a blend of 4 gallons of warm water and ¼ cup of laundry detergent (be sure to cover any nearby plants, close windows, and turn off power to outdoor electrical sockets). Do not wait too long to clean off insect debris or stains, however, as the longer it sits on the vinyl the more likely it is to cause permanent damage.
Rodents Under the Siding
Some more substantial pests that might get under vinyl are rats and mice. These rodents chew through exposed wood areas, such as soffits and fascia, and can build extensive nests in the warm, protected space under the vinyl. Evidence of this kind of infestation includes visible damage to the siding—such as lumps or dented areas—but also audible clues, such as scratching, skittering, and squeaking in the walls. Because rodent droppings can transmit diseases, it is important to remove the animals promptly, either through the use of traps or hiring a rodent removal or extermination company. Once the pests have been removed, contact a siding company to evaluate your siding, locate places where the rodents accessed the walls, and then determine the best way to go about repairing the damage so it will be less likely to happen again in the future. Siding products made of fiber cement or seamless steel can help keep rodents out by being chew-proof and offering a gapless building envelope.
How to Prevent Pest Damage
Most pests get into your walls from the ground, so evaluate the ground-line and foundation-line of your siding to make sure there is now damage that might allow insects access underneath the siding. Promptly replace any pieces of siding that have come loose or have holes, tears, or any other damage that might expose the wood underneath to pests or to water damage. Take sensible precautions, such as keeping firewood, yard debris, mulch, and plant growth away from the exterior siding.
How to Repair Pest Damage
If your siding or the underlying structure has been damaged by insects or animals, seek assistance from an experienced pest or rodent control professional to rid your home of the pests. There are also commercially available pesticide dusts and sprays you can apply yourself, but when the problem is located in the difficult-to-access area under siding, it is best to contact a professional.
Also hire a professional siding company, like Fletcher Construction of Stafford Virginia, to inspect the affected siding and determine the best solution for repairing the damage and avoiding the problem in the future. They can determine whether specialized siding treated with a pest-resistant coating might be a good solution for your property. It can be tempting to try to replace vinyl siding yourself, but you will enjoy better peace of mind and will save money in the long run with the expertise, equipment, and warranty provided by hiring a professional.
If you’re in the Stafford area and have any concerns about your siding, suspect that it has been damaged by pests, or are interested in replacing it, please give us a call. Fletcher Construction is one of the Stafford region’s leading firms for siding installation and care. Our professionals can discuss the best options for your particular situation.