03/20/2017 | The Problem with New York’s Old Buildings
Historic brownstones. Huge tenement buildings. Towering highrises. New York is one of the most iconic, striking cities in the world. One of the biggest reasons why is the beautiful old buildings. New York has historically significant architecture spanning countless cultural styles and design theories. Many of these buildings are over a hundred years old! Everywhere else, it’s easy to feel disconnected from history and culture. It’s impossible to feel that way in New York; all you have to do is look out a window!
Awe-inspiring as they are, old buildings like the ones in New York aren’t without their problems. Chief among them: their vulnerability to pest infestation. As buildings age, their anti-pest defenses wear away, and they become virtual havens for a wide variety of pests. If you live or work in an old building, keep an eye out for exploitable weaknesses like these.
Over time, exposure to the elements, and the structure’s gradual shifting, a building’s foundation can come under a lot of strain. Cracks in cement foundation form in the foundation when the strain of the support it provides proves to be too much.
Pests use cracks in an old building’s foundation to sneak in from the ground level. Roaches, termites, and even rodents can squeeze through tiny basement cracks to get into a desirable space. Look for cracks or holes in the basement floor or outside along the base of the building. Seal any cracks you find with caulk to prevent pests from using them as a way in.
Broken Window Frames
Window frames tend to take a beating. Unlike most of a building, they don’t have siding, insulation, or brick to protect them from the elements. Even treated wooden frames wear down after exposure to wind, rain, and cold. When frames wear down, gaps can gradually form between the wood and the inner or outer wall, or even between the window and pane.
Like cracks in foundation, pests can use these gaps to make their way inside. Termites can also feed on window frames once given an access point like an outside gap. Consider replacing old windows and window frames, and make sure you replace weather stripping and sealant once every 1-2 years.
A lot of New York’s older buildings still contain their original plumbing. Some of those pipes may be over 50 years old! No plumbing could be expected to hold up for that long, but pipes that old may even be made of outdated or dangerous materials.
When metal pipes begin to rust or corrode, they spring leaks very easily. The moisture these leaks produce attract all kinds of pests, who will be quite grateful for the free drink! If you’re taking care of an old building, you should consider replacing its pipes, or at the very least having them inspected by a professional. A little expense now could save you a big one later, and it might just keep pests out, to boot!
Wood rots when it’s exposed to too much humidity or moisture. Rotten wood attracts termites, and other pests can bite through it to enter the building, too. Check floorboards, as well as wooden borders and frames. If there’s a deck or patio, take special care that its floor or railing don’t begin to rot.
In general, make sure any wood in your building has been properly treated and weatherproofed. Repair or replace damaged wood immediately. Stain wooden furniture. It’s tough to totally prevent rot, so the most important part of taking care of wood is paying attention to it. Catch signs of rot early and try to figure out what could be causing the problem.
Keeping pests out of old buildings is always going to be tricky, but don’t worry too much. As long as you pay close attention to these four access points, and you keep the building clean and secure, there’s no reason to believe you can’t prevent infestation.
And if you do end up with pests in your building, you still have options: you can call Assured Environments. We’ve been dealing with pests in New York’s beautiful buildings for a long time, and we’d be happy to help you, too.