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COVER STORY WHAT LURKS BENEATH?


Beaver Pest Control takes us on a journey through the sewers and into voids and cavities of buildings, as it explores the impact a most pestilent rodent can have on the workings of a facility.


Now it’s starting to get colder again, inevitably rodents will start to move indoors looking for warmth and food. We have seen an upsurge in rat activity recently, the result of a hot summer (for brief periods), followed by the recent heavy downpours and the plentiful availability of food especially in city centres.


If you are affected by a plague of rats, what can you do? It can be time consuming to clear rat infestations especially if they are coming from multiple sources. Quite often they may be living in disused grounds in burrows and also coming up from breaks in the drainage.


Once they are in the voids and cavities of a building they can cause significant damage through chewing electrical and computer cabling as well as the health risks associated with rat urine and faeces. If they die in inaccessible voids, the smell can be quite horrendous for a few days or weeks, making for a poor working environment.


Jo Nesbo once said: “A rat is neither good nor evil, it does what a rat has to do.” There is definitely some truth in that. Man and rats have co-existed for centuries (think of the Pied Piper in the Middle Ages), and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.


Although very difficult to verify, the current population of rats in the UK (Rattus norvegicus and less commonly Rattus rattus) is thought to be somewhere in the tens of millions. There is some truth to the urban myth that you are never more than six foot away from a rat. In an urban centre with sewers and drainage systems rats are free to breed underground and then venture above ground looking for food.


Although recent studies are now indicating gerbils rather than black rats as the main carriers of the Black Death plagues in the 14th Century, our own brown rat does carry a number of risks including structural damage and disease. Leptospirosis otherwise known as Weils disease is transmitted via a water source and an infected rat’s urine.


As well as Leptospirosis, the brown rat can transmit Salmonella, Listeria, and Hantavirus. Brown Rats can also inflict a great amount of structural damage. They can cause serious fires, by gnawing away the insulation around electrical cables, and floods by puncturing pipes. The insurance sector estimates that rodent damage to wiring is responsible for 25% of all electrical fires in buildings.


28 | TOMORROW’S FM


As we all know rats can come up from broken sewers and drains. Constant building works mean that drains and pipework can become damaged leading to a sudden rat problem. Problems with drains will mean instructing a drain surveyor, but drain companies are not pest controllers and quite often the reports which are provided are difficult to understand and don’t always take into account how rats move around drainage systems.


How our specialist team carries out drain surveys We map the drainage system including waste water, surface water and drain pipes. All inlets and manholes within the property boundaries are inspected. We then produce a report which looks at how rodents are using the drainage system for access. To produce the report we use several techniques:


Sonde – The Sonde is a dual frequency signal transmitter used to trace drains, sewers and other non-conductive services. This important piece of kit allows us to fully map the drainage system.


Hilti Tools – These are used to make sure that we can inspect other areas which may be used as ingress / access. Our surveyors can lift decking, remove vents, inspect cellars or basements and access lofts spaces.


Drain cameras – We use the same top of the range cameras used by Thames Water. These cameras allow us to see other subtle defects which could have been missed previously.


Dye Testing – This allows us to see if burrows are feeding back into the drainage systems as well as testing


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