Properties that experienced increased vacancy during the height of the pandemic may still be struggling with a long list of action items as they welcome more and more guests into the facilities. Prioritizing these steps can be overwhelming, but they are important. The last thing a facility cleaning executive needs is to overlook an important action item in the rush to welcome occupants back into the fold.

After months of dealing with the pandemic, facility guests are more focused than ever on their surroundings. As a result, they will be more likely to notice issues, including the presence of unsightly and unwanted pests.

Facility cleaning teams should consider these important steps to ensure doors are being opened to satisfied guests and not pests.

  • 1. Check the exterior of the facility.

Overgrown trees or shrubbery touching the building offer an attractive shelter for a variety of pests. Facilities teams should trim plants back to avoid letting insects such as ants use them to access the building.

It is important to also seal large cracks or gaps in the building’s façade to avoid providing further points of entry. A hole just a quarter-inch wide is large enough for a rodent to squeeze through.

  • 2. Inspect plumbing.

Teams should check plumbing throughout the facility — especially in restrooms and kitchen areas — to make sure no leaks occurred. Also, don’t forget about the roof, where it is important to make sure rooftop air conditioning units are not leaking or delivering excess condensation.

Removing moisture and standing water sources can help avoid a pest problem. Just a thimble full of water is enough for mosquitoes to breed and multiply.

  • 3. Pay attention to drains.

Any additional infrastructure issues that arose during quarantine, especially with drains, can also create pest entry points. Without frequent use, sink water pipes and floor drains can run dry, creating an open pathway for pests to enter from sewage lines below.

Train facility teams to flush the floor drains with water to refill p-traps and remove any issues that may be inside them. It is also important to remind staff to check for any signs of pest activity surrounding drain tops and grates.

  • 4. Practice proper sanitation.

A build-up in waste is not only an eyesore but also a pest haven. Teams should inspect all trash cans to ensure they’ve been emptied. If not, bag, seal and remove the contents immediately, checking for cockroach and fly activity. Resume regular trash pickup if the service was previously put on hold or if garbage accumulated while operations were paused.

  • 5. Examine offices, lockers and break rooms.

As staff numbers increase inside the facility, encourage employees to look through their desks, lockers and other personal drawers for food that was left behind, as well as any evidence of pests or pest damage.

In areas where food was left behind, facility teams should scan for signs of cockroach activity using a flashlight with the lights off. Be sure to check abandoned indoor plants, which may have provided a food source for pests whose regular food sources weren’t available.

With these tasks at the forefront of facility cleaning efforts, teams can reduce manageable quantities of unwanted guests. For situations of large infestations, it’s best to consult an expert. Pest management professionals can provide a comprehensive inspection to help find any issues facility teams may have missed.

Frank Meek is a technical services manager for Rollins. As a board-certified entomologist and 30-year industry veteran, Meek is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management.