How does your copper wool/mesh work as a physical barrier to control ants entering structures through weep holes? Please advise.
Weep holes can be found on most any brick home and quite commonly on other types of structures too. For obvious reasons, any “hole” that leads to an interior wall void of a structure tends to increase the potential for a pest problem to develop. In my estimation, weep holes account for a lot more problems than realized. In fact, I’ve seen termites, wasps, roaches, crickets, earwigs, millipedes, ants and many other invasive pests take advantage of this “open door” to what amounts to a great nest site: wall voids where it’s nice and warm, shady, moist and protected! Yet it’s not likely we’ll see less utilization of weep hole design in residential homes anytime soon and though there has been some attempts at making them insect proof, for the most part they still represent one of the most likely places for invasive pests to enter a structure. More importantly, the “purpose” of any weep hole is really at fault. Think about it: weep holes are designed to release water. And what is it that most invasive pests seek? Moisture (water). Safe harborage. Darkness aka shade. Basically everything a weep hole can provide!
Which brings me to your inquiry about using our COPPER WOOL as an ant barrier. The simple answer is yes; when weep holes are stuffed with copper wool ants are not able to enter. However, we don’t recommend using it for this purpose. Having tried this and a few other products over the years, I have found anytime weep holes are effectively stuffed with something intended to let the water flow but not let insects enter, the end result is a clogged weep hole. And though this might not happen for 3-6 months or even longer following the installation, the problems associated with a clogged weep hole far outweigh keeping them open and vulnerable to insects. For this reason we don’t feel comfortable telling people to “stuff” or try to block weep holes. Remember, it only takes one instance of water retention to have a big impact on the structure (in a negative way) and anytime you use any type of a “barrier” in the weep hole itself, there will always be a chance of this happening.
Now with that being said, if you feel you are willing to inspect and replace the Copper Wool on a regular basis, it might be an option for you. The key here is being able to remember and check the placements every 3 months (quarterly) to make sure all is well. This routine will greatly improve the chance of you being able to avoid any blockage and if you do have some weep holes that are getting clogged, you’ll be able to take care of them more frequently once their identified.
Another option to consider is the use of NOSEEUM SCREENING. This light window screen replacement is inexpensive, very easy to work with and won’t clog nearly as fast as the copper wool. Additionally, it can effectively be used in a different method which works well. By fitting it over weep holes you can “glue” it to the structure and not “stuff” the hole. This technique works well for the more traditional weep holes, the kind that are between bricks in place of mortar, where there is a nice big gap. First, cut the screeing to be slightly oversized compared to the hole so you have about 1/2″ overlap of the screening over the hole. Next, apply a thin coat of silicon to the outer edge of the screening and then lay it over the weep hole. Hold it in place till it sets up and the end result is a type of patch that will let out water but keep insects out. The silicone will both hold the screening in place for a long time yet is easy to remove if the screening needs to be replaced. Noseeum screening can also be used as a type of “cap” placed over the “tube type” weep holes commonly deployed these days. Clearly sticking copper wool up into this type of weep hole should not be done but capping it with the noseeum screening is Ok and a good way to keep bugs out with the water still able to drain.
In summary, weep holes serve a function that shouldn’t be ignored. Water will consistently get behind house siding and if there wasn’t a way for it to escape, all kinds of damage could result from lack of drainage. But these drain lines are one of the most common routes of entry for many pests and though plugging them up seems logical, in the end it can create more of a problem. If you have large weep holes with big gaps that can fit the copper wool, it will do a good job of keeping out pests. But this should only be done if the homeowner is willing to inspect them quarterly making sure none are getting clogged. Alternatively, noseeum screening will do a better job and though not as easy to install, you can get much longer performance from a single installation with a lot less risk. If you have further questions about any of the products discussed, give us a call on our toll free 1-800-877-7290 and one of our tech reps should be able to further assist.