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First-time home-owner - house less than 1 year old.

We had our home built last December, and have been discovering all sorts of problems with it. The latest was a trail of ants within our kitchen ascending from behind the stove. When we looked beneath the stove to see what the problem was, we found a small hole allowing sun-light in from outside. Our builder came and sprayed foam, but the ants have persisted for one more day.

I finally sprayed some insect killer behind the stove, and that greatly reduced the number of ants. Today I pulled the stove out to see what it looked like back there and found the following (see image). I'm noticing a large space between the hardwood flooring and the drywall - is this normal? Should I fill it with spray foam? If so, is spray foam enough to prevent further insects from finding their way in (assuming the initial round of spray foam wasn't sufficient), or should I deal with ants a different way?

If I should spray, what would be an appropriate product to use?

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Do the ants have a nest in the house, or do you think they are coming in from outside? –  Tester101 Aug 13 '10 at 0:27
    
I think they're coming in from outside. You can see the spray foam where there was once a hold going outside allowing sunlight in. I'm assuming they came in there. –  Jonathan Sampson Aug 13 '10 at 0:43
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Wait, there is a hole in your exterior wall and the guy sprayed foam in there? That's a ghetto fix. –  dotjoe Aug 13 '10 at 16:24
    
@dotjoe Yes, and unfortunately we don't know enough about home-ownership or repairs to know when somebody has used a ghetto method to "repair" anything. We've got a growing list of things for the builder to address, so I'm sure I'll have plenty other "ghetto" stories soon. –  Jonathan Sampson Aug 14 '10 at 16:33
    
A good rule of thumb is "If it looks shoddy, it probably is". –  Tester101 Dec 17 '10 at 16:53
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4 Answers 4

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Killing the ants is one thing, and the comments from others are good. However, you need to fix the root cause of the problem, which is hole that you can see daylight from. Spray foam will only deter them for a while. You should NEVER be able to see daylight through a wall from the inside of a home. I would take a good look outside and see how much of a gap existed before the foamed it. You may have to remove the siding to see everything, but I suspect the exterior wall may need to be patched.

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Yes, you need to fix the hole. Not just for ants, but to prevent outside air from getting in, raising your heating/cooling bills, and to prevent water from getting inside the wall from outside and causing all kinds of problems down the road, long after the builder will fix them. –  KeithB Aug 13 '10 at 13:42
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The gap is not unusual. You could put spray foam there, but it will only have a negligible affect. I've had ants come in through an electrical outlet before. Any tiny opening is sufficient for their single-file "column" to come marching through. Hurrah! Hurrah!

The best thing to do is to apply a bait/poison like Amdro along the base of the exterior wall and use a few ant bait stations made for interior use in a few places in the kitchen. If the ones that you can get at the grocery or home improvement store don't do the trick then you can get better ones from your local pest control store that caters to the DIY market.

The products available to a homeowner will be limited and regulated, but they are often effective. Always follow label instructions.

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Although the gap in the interior drywall (which would normally be coverered by a baseboard) is not unusual, I was very surprised to head that he could see the sunlight through that hole! –  Vebjorn Ljosa Aug 17 '10 at 2:12
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If the ants have a nest in the house, you will have to find the nest and destroy it. Then you will have to prevent them from getting back into the house and creating a new nest.

If the ants are entering the house from the ground, you could spread Borax around the house. The ants will crawl through the borax on the way in and die.

If the ants are coming in from above (power line, clothes line, tree branch) you will have to deal with that accordingly. Clothes lines and tree branches are easy, just remove them. A power line can be more tricky, but most likely the ants are getting on the line from a nearby tree. If that's the case you should call the power company and ask them to remove the tree, unless the tree is on your property in which case you can trim the branches around the line so the ants no longer have access.

The first step is to find where the ants are coming from, the next step is to prevent them from coming back.

As for the dry wall not coming down to the floor, that is normally covered up by base boards. I'm assuming the builders figured the stove would cover it so there was no sense 'wasting money' installing a baseboard there.

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This is why I would never hire someone who only does new construction. They don't take pride in their work, they only do enough so that the new homeowner doesn't complain.

To really fix this problem permanently, you are really going to have to "dig" into the wall. Which is why the builder just put in some spray foam. Otherwise they would have had to spend more money, without getting another dime from you.

It might be worthwhile to have someone, other than the builder, come over and look at it with you, even if you have to hire them yourself.

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I'm definitely learning that new builders aren't worth much. I'm planning on removing the spray foam, and using this as an opportunity to teach myself some basic repair knowledge. –  Jonathan Sampson Aug 16 '10 at 18:47
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