PHOENIX - Rats are finding their way into Valley homes through the sewer. Even scarier, once they're in the sewer they can move from one home to the next by crawling through the shared underground piping.
"What we could have is an instance where a rat is actually living in this house, getting into the sewer system, dropping down, coming all the way out, hitting the main, running down the main, and up into somebody else's house," said Chad Little, an exterminator for Urban Desert Pest Control.
Little says the biggest hurdle of getting them out is figuring out how they got inside in the first place. That can be a huge challenge since chew marks in pipes are generally hidden behind walls.
But Urban Desert Pest Control has a fancy new way to smoke them out. Little said the system doesn't actually smoke the rats out of the sewer but rather exposes their hidden access points.
Little hooks an air pump onto the home's sewer vent and pumps harmless smoke into the pipes.
"We shouldn't be getting any smoke out of the inside of the house, but if we do we know we have a problem," Little said.
Smoke means there's a hole in a pipe behind the wall. Little has to cut open the wall and find the problem pipe and patch it up.
Little said the smoke treatment and rat removal costs roughly $700 to $800. But if rats are using your sewer, the smoke is the only way to figure it out.
He said even without a rat infestation it's a good idea to take preventative measures, make sure drain pipes in showers and sinks all have metal grates. Make sure pipes leading to washers, and other plumbing appliances are in good shape.
"Keep your toilet lids closed," Little half-joked.