I have a question to submit for your St Louis handyman:
We have a lower level bedroom/office that has an access panel built into the wall for our main water shutoff. It’s actually an old cabinet door screwed into the wall, but the problem is it is allowing spiders to enter the room. We have a problem with webs and baby spiders every time we sit down at the computer. Is there a way to seal this area while still having access to the shut off valve?
B.S. Weldon Springs
I know how creepy it can be to have your space taken over by spiders and such. Insects especially love to live in dark places where they’re rarely interrupted. However, there may be an easy solution to the problem.
First of all, it is a good idea to start fresh, so open the door and vacuum out all of the webs, etc. Next, use some indoor bug spray and do a thorough job of spraying for the insects. Be sure to spray at the floor as well. This is something you may need to repeat periodically, but spraying is going to be your best bet.
However, if you don’t want to use chemical sprays there are many suggestions on the internet that people claim work. Some of them are: filling pantyhose with mothballs and placing it near where the spiders are; using lemon scented soap and water to create a mixture to spray; mixing essential peppermint oil with water and spraying the area; spreading diatomaceous earth, (which is a natural product, not a pesticide) around the perimeter of your house; or drilling holes in walnuts and placing them in or near the area.
You may also want to consider an additional defense. Go to the hardware store and buy a small amount of insulation. I know that Home Depot carries a small bag (as opposed to buying a large roll or bundle). It doesn’t matter whether this insulation is faced with kraft paper. You might want to buy two bags, just to be sure.
Stuff the insulation all around the inside of the opening, covering as much space as you can. This cavity will likely go all the way to the floor, but you don’t need to fill up the entire space, just for a foot or so above and below the opening, including around the shut-off valve. Just leave the handle showing, so that you can turn your water off if you need to in the future.
When you put the door back on, see if there is a little pressure of the door onto the insulation. This would be best if there was, creating a tight fit.
If there is any wood trim around the door, be sure that it is caulked along the wall, as the insects could get into the room here as well. If not, use a caulking gun and caulk to create a good seal.
If the insects are now or in the future coming from the floor, I have been told that taking small amounts of steel wool and forcing it under the baseboard is a good way to keep bugs and insects from coming in, although this is one of those tricks I have never tried.
Good luck, and remember to periodically retreat the area – especially if you see any new activity.