When your tenants put their items into one of your self-storage units, they expect that those goods will be safe and secure. Certainly, they assume their stuff will remain free of bugs and other vermin. Unfortunately, however, storage facilities can be appealing to a variety of pests, as they offer dark harborage sites that often go undisturbed for extended periods of time. Consider the following guidance to discourage unwelcome visitors from making themselves at home on your property.
Signs of Infestation
Without proper prevention, pests like rodents, cockroaches and spiders are frequently found in self-storage facilities, and they can be destructive and dangerous if an infestation takes hold. Rodents and cockroaches can transmit dangerous diseases like salmonella, E. coli, Hantavirus and the plague. They can also chew through materials like cardboard and destroy box contents. Certain spider species such as black widows and brown recluse can inflict painful bites that require immediate medical attention.
There are several telltale signs self-storage operators can watch for during regular pest inspections. The first is visual sightings of the pests themselves, but you should also be on the lookout for fecal droppings, gnaw marks, nests, strange noises, and oily tracks or rub marks. For example, cockroaches will leave droppings as well as their shed skins, smear marks, egg capsules or even a noticeable stench. If you’re finding more webs around your property, it’s a sign you may have a spider infestation.
Here are a few simple steps self-storage operators can take to shore up their properties against the threat of pests:
- Vacuum and clean all common areas, including offices, hallways, lobbies and public bathrooms, daily.
- Wipe down countertops and sweep floors to remove any crumbs and spills.
- Sanitize the breakroom, ensuring all food is stored in airtight containers.
- Trash should be removed regularly and discarded in a sealed receptacle.
- Clear any vegetation that has grown close to the building.
- Repair any cracks or holes in the buildings. Mice can fit through openings as small as a dime and rats the size of a quarter! Insects can squeeze through much smaller gaps.
- Exterior lighting fixtures with mercury-vapor bulbs are a beacon for pests, so swap them out for a less-attractive option such as low-sodium bulbs whenever possible.
- Repair leaky pipes, ensure buildings are well-ventilated and watch for ponding. Pests are attracted to moisture and water sources. Standing water also provides an ample breeding ground for mosquitoes!
- Clear all gutters of debris to prevent moisture buildup, and install properly functioning downspouts and splash blocks to direct water away from the foundation.
When it comes to pest management at any commercial property, it’s often best to work with a licensed pest-control company for routine inspections and maintenance as well as treatments, when necessary. A professional will help you implement an integrated plan customized to your self-storage buildings and environment.
This partnership should be built on solid research and trust. When vetting service providers, don’t make a hasty decision based solely on the cost of service, as not all companies are created equal. The following recommendations will help you choose the right vendor to help you eliminate current infestations and reduce future problems.
Find companies that are members of national, state or local pest-control associations. These memberships speak to a provider’s commitment to protecting public health and property as well as a desire to receive ongoing education about new technologies and treatment techniques. It also means they’ll strictly adhere to state and federal regulations. The National Pest Management Association provides a ZIP-code locator on its website to help you find licensed pest professionals near you.
Research each candidate and ask for recommendations. Evaluate several firms, including their services and guarantees. Ask other self-storage operators or neighboring businesses which pest-control suppliers they use, as they may face issues similar to yours. When meeting a candidate, always ask about their practices and other clients they serve in the industry and community, and request references. The information you gather should speak to the quality of service and long-term satisfaction you’ll receive.
Understand your service agreement. Before finalizing any pest-control contract, carefully read the terms to fully understand what services are covered as well as any guarantees that may be given.
Pest management can often be an arduous task in self-storage, as it requires excellent communication and ongoing collaboration between the provider and facility operator. But with the right plan, you can ensure the health and safety of your customers and staff as well as the protection of all property. After all, you can’t put a price on your business’ reputation!
Cindy Mannes is senior vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, a nonprofit established in 1933 to support the pest-management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.