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Got a silverfish infestation? Could be a sign of a plumbing problem

Silverfish love damp so the pests may be the least of your worries

Nobody wants a pest infestation of any kind, but some are less desirable than others. While some, like ants or wasps, can be hard to prevent, others tend to happen when there are certain conditions. For example, cockroaches or rats can be attracted to food waste. If you see silverfish then these tiny, wriggly critters may not be the only thing you need to worry about. That’s because they are attracted to damp, mouldy conditions so their presence in your home is a sign you could have a leak somewhere.

What are silverfish and why could they indicate a damp problem?

Silverfish are tiny insects with long bodies that are silvery grey in colour and wriggle in a fish-like way as they crawl, hence the name. They are nocturnal and like to stay hidden away in cracks and crevices, so you often only see them when they get trapped somewhere, like a bath, or you move something, and they scatter out of the way. The reason they should ring some alarm bells if you see them is because of their habitat of choice: damp, moist, dark areas.

They often find their way into homes via holes that begin as water damage. If they take up residence it’s because they’ve found a source of moisture, which they need to survive. This gives you two issues: the infestation and the reason for the damp.

What are the signs of a silverfish infestation?

Due to the reasons outlined above, they can be difficult to spot. However, as well as sightings of the insects themselves, there are other signs. They love to eat starch and protein and are very attracted to paper and glue. They will cause real damage to books, wallpaper, and even fabric and leather such as clothes, shoes, curtains, and soft furnishings. Look out for damage in these items. You may also spot yellow stains or residues, which is their droppings, or even tiny paper-like shed skins. You can see more details about how to spot them here.

What do you need to do?

If you think you have silverfish, one thing to remember is that they’re not actually harmful to health. They don’t bite, though their skins and droppings can be an allergen. They do, however, cause a lot of damage. You, therefore, need to think about two things: getting rid of the infestation and investigating the possible damp issue.

There are plenty of products on the market for eradicating silverfish and the best strategy is to apply a combination of things such as dusting powders, surface sprays, and smoke bombs. A flushing agent is useful for bringing them out of their hiding places. Alternatively, you can get a pest controller in to do it for you.

Finding the source of moisture

In terms of finding where they’re living, and therefore the source of moisture, remember that they don’t necessarily live in direct proximity to their food source. You may spot them (or signs of them) near your books but they may then retreat to a cellar or a damp spot under the sink. You just have to take a good look around the house. Start with more likely places like cellars/basements, under sinks, bathrooms etc and work from there. Look out for signs of moisture, like watermarks, mould, and mildew. You can also look around externally to see whether brickwork or render show any signs of damp getting in, or drains or guttering have become blocked up, causing water to displace. This is also something a plumber can investigate.

Any damp problem you find needs to be dealt with properly. Apart from the fact that it could lead to a silverfish re-infestation, a damp or leak issue could cause considerably more damage if left unresolved and silverfish really will be the least of your problems then!

If you are concerned you have a leak somewhere, you can call us on 0800 0326478 or send us a message using the form here. As well as general repair work, we can also conduct investigations, including using sending a camera into pipes to check for blockages or leaks where they can’t be seen from the outside. Don’t ignore it because it never gets better on its own!

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