Protecting Mount Washington’s Historic Homes
Mount Washington has been one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in the Baltimore area for more than 100 years. The neighborhood has seen a lot of change through the decades, first as a mill town, then as one of Baltimore’s first street-car suburbs, and now as the eclectic, family-friendly area it is today, but one thing has remained a constant: the beautiful older homes.
Many of the homes in Mount Washington were built around the turn of the 20th century. When the homes were built, the builders took large stones found on the property after clearing the plot of land to form the foundation. The stones were loosely cemented together, only above the soil line, leaving large gaps between the stones below grade. Eventually, as the neighborhood trees matured, their roots followed the foundation walls and penetrated these gaps between the stones. When these roots or trees die, they make a perfect highway into your home for termites.
Mount Washington’s beautiful historic homes are partly what makes the neighborhood such a wonderful place to live, but there are some extra precautions to take against termites and other pests if you live in a historic home. If you suspect that your home may be one of those mentioned with a stone foundation surrounded by mature trees, Brody Brothers strongly suggests regular inspections and implementing ongoing protection with a termite baiting program like Sentricon™. This strategy will get rid of a current termite problem and prevent new termites from taking up residence in your home. Our termite control plan is also popular among our clients with older homes because it covers year-round inspections and treatments to maintain the structural integrity of your house.
Diagnosing a Termite Problem
Not sure if you have termites? Look for the wings. Termites come to the surface in large numbers to reproduce when they are starting a new colony, so you will spot the wings if you look closely, even if you don’t see the swarm of bugs. Check floor boards, windowsills and basements carefully. You should also keep an eye out for mud tubes, as this is how termites travel between feeding locations in your home. If you can’t tell how old a mud tube is or if it’s currently being used, break it and check later to see if it’s been repaired; if it has, it means you have an active termite infestation. You can also check accessible wood beams in your home for structural integrity—if it’s been infested by termites, the wood will sound hollow.
Termite damage can be incredibly costly to repair and each case is different in terms of the scope of damage. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent termites in the first place:
- Make sure your gutters are clean and that water drains away from the foundation; termites like moisture so they won’t be attracted to a dry environment.
- Keep wood piles and other wood debris like wood retaining walls away from the home; make sure mulch is never deeper than three inches.
- Replace decaying mulch every year and don’t let it accumulate.
- Don’t leave tree stumps in the ground when you take down large trees; the decaying wood is likely to attract termites.
Teaching an Old House New Tricks
Older homes have charm and give a sense of place to a neighborhood, but there are some real challenges that can come with them that go beyond creaky floorboards. In addition to termites, historic homes are also prone to mice and other rodent infestations. The Brody Brothers recommend our quarterly home protection plan to clients in historic homes, in Mount Washington and the other neighborhoods we serve. This plan covers three exterior treatments and one interior treatment every year, along with inspections for any pest you’re likely to encounter in our region.
We take great pride in protecting our neighborhoods and the beautiful historic homes in our area from pests, to keep Mount Washington and neighboring towns looking great through the 21st century and beyond. If you live in a historic home, give Brody Brothers a call at 410-650-4266 and make your pest problems history.