Case Study: Rat Tape in Pest Proofing
Proofing properties against rats is as important as ever. Britain’s rat population has grown bigger and bolder, attracted by the increasing amount of waste produced by people. Pest control companies also faced record numbers of rat infestations last year due to the frequently changing weather – warmer temperatures increased the number of breeds, while flooded underground spaces forced the rodents into buildings and homes across the country.
Prevention is better than cure
Reaching for the rodenticide seems like an obvious choice. However, DIY pest control measures using rodenticide are risky, and the BPCA always recommends getting a professional pest controller to do the job. Not only are rats naturally wary of new objects and can take a while before ingesting any poison, they can also take several days to die, often in a cavity or roof space, causing a bad smell for weeks. Rat poisons can also end up harming children, pets or wildlife by way of secondary poisoning, and according to a study from the University of Reading, rats are also developing a resistance to them!
Prevention is always the best course of action, as once an infestation takes hold it can be difficult and expensive to get rid of. For example, drainage systems are a hidden highway through which rats can make their way into homes. (They can hold their breath for 3 minutes and tread water for 3 days, so swimming around a U-bend is not an issue!) Metex are well known for high quality rat blockers which prevent rats from travelling up drains, while allowing waste to flow downstream.
Proofing awkward gaps
But what should you do with gaps or cracks, like those at the junctions where drains pass through walls? Rats can squeeze through just a 1.5cm gap, and juvenile rats even smaller, so blocking any gaps or cracks where pipes pass through walls is crucial.
This is something Mark Porter from Porters Pest Control was faced with on a recent job, where rats had managed to get through the gap behind a built-in toilet at an estate agents. “We come across this quite regularly. Certainly a frequent issue for sure”, stated Mark.
In the case of rat infestations, Mark explains faulty drains are 90% of the problem. Other common causes are broken air vents or missing or broken brickwork.
Gaps like these can also be blocked with wire wool, mesh or mastic, but Rat Tape often does the job better as it sticks to the material and creates a waterproof, sealed surface instead of simply filling a hole. “Some use expanding foam, which of course serves no purpose or defence. Metal plates either side of the toilet would have been an alternative option, but Rat Tape is a product that’s always in the proofing bag and it suited the need for this task”, Mark describes.
What is Rat Tape then?
Metex RatTape has a tough stainless mesh at its core between 2 layers of butyl tape, making it sticky and both chewproof and waterproof. It can be quickly and easily applied over gaps or building defects to prevent rodents getting through, and can even be painted over. It also sticks well to most building substrates, and the butyl tape has been known to last for more than 20 years.
It’s simple to apply – the most important thing you need to do beforehand is clean and dry the area before applying the tape, as any adhesive material will not stick well to greasy or dusty surfaces. Then all you need to do is cut it to size and shape! Because of the steel mesh, you should cut the tape with tin snips and ensure you wear gloves as the cut edges can be sharp. For awkward applications, you can mold Rat Tape around e.g. pipes, and also overlay the strips to cover larger areas, like Mark did here.
Rat Tape is generally extremely sticky, but if you’re having issues getting it to stick in cold conditions, you can also apply gentle heat to it. Mark also has further tips on applying Rat Tape: “Don’t use disposable gloves, as the Rat Tape sticks to it and just pulls them off. Wear a dedicated pair of thick gloves. We use scissors to press the tape to stick in position.”
When should I use Rat Tape?
You can use RatTape to proof building defects in a wide range of materials including wood, PVC, brickwork and concrete. The surface you’re applying it to should be dry and free of dust and debris. The tape can also be painted over to match its surroundings!
However, bear mind that if you’re working in really dusty conditions or with slippery or crumbly surfaces, Rat Tape may not be a good option as it likely won’t stick very well. It’s also important to remember that even though Rat Tape can last many years, it’s never a substitute for construction methods or permanent repairs to the building materials!