Termite Inspection Guide
Termites are irritating insects that can cause severe structural damage to your home, and this guide is going to explain how to do a termite inspection without calling the experts. Prevention is a crucial part of protecting your home against termites, including what attracts them and how to close off any potential openings.
There are over 2,000 termite species in the World, with 50 of them residing in the United States. Termites are most commonly found in warmer climates like the Southern regions of the United States and live in every state except Alaska. There are three main types of termites that cause damage in the United States:
- Subterranean Termites: Considered the most destructive termite species. This variety forms large colonies and can quickly eat through wood.
- Drywood Termites: There are four common types of drywood termites n the United States and get all their nutrition from wood and do not need moisture from soil. These can be difficult to treat because they can build multiple colonies in a single infestation.
- Dampwood Termites: Many dampwood termites can survive without soil. However, they are attracted to high moisture levels and prefer decaying wood, areas with leaks, and woodpiles. Due to their need for a constant water source, they are less likely to be found in your home.
Each of these species can cause severe property damage, and the best method of managing them is prevention. So, let’s talk about how to inspect for termites.
What Do Termite Inspectors Look For?
The professional inspection process is similar to the at-home procedure, which involves examining all potential access locations. They will also be looking for signs of past or present damages from possible infestation.
Termite inspectors will examine potential entry points and possible infestation areas that are unique to each species. For example, the inspector will examine the inside and outside perimeters of the home for subterranean termites. This also includes the lowest levels of the house, foundation, basement, attic, and crawlspaces.
For drywood termites, inspectors examine exposed wood, hardwood floors, attics, crawlspaces, and eaves. If the inspector suspects there is termite activity but cannot reach the area, they will note the conditions and give options for a more thorough inspection that requires specialized equipment.
Sometimes inspectors will ask to drill small holes in walls or other areas to determine termite activity and will commonly examine wood furniture. During the inspection procedure, the professional will look for potential structural or moisture problems.
Examples of these would be standing water on rooftops, pooling water around foundation, wooden deck supports that directly contacts soil and wood close to the foundation.
Inspectors generally look for visible signs of infestation, which include similar characteristics to what you find in the home inspection:
- Wood Damage
- Mud Tubes
- Discarded Wings
- Exit Holes in Wood
- Termite Droppings
The inspector will also look for signs of moisture, along with any areas where wood and soil are in direct contact with each other.
How to Prevent Termite Infestation
Termites are dormant during winter but will become active in spring. Termites reportedly cause up to $5 billion in damages to homeowners each year, so preventing them can save you serious financial problems. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), here are ten tips to prevent termites:
- Eliminate or reduce moisture in or around your home
- Repair any leaks from faucets or water pipes, along with outside air conditioner units
- Repair any damaged or rotting roof shingles
- Replace weather-stripping and loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows
- Try to reduce the amount of water coming from downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks.
- Regularly inspect your home for any signs of mud tubes, along with uneven or bubbling paint and wood that sounds hollow.
- Look for any changes in all exterior wooden areas, including windows, door frames, and skirting boards
- Keep an 18in gap between soil and any wood areas of your home
- Keep firewood at least 20ft away from your house
- Consider scheduling an annual professional inspection
How to Treat Termite Infestation
The most effective termite treatment is a completely fumigating the house. However, this will potentially set you back several thousand dollars, depending on the exterminator. In addition to the costs, fumigation takes days and requires a lot of preparation.
After spending hours arranging your furniture for the treatment, you will have to leave your home for days. However, localized treatments could be more be effective for minor infestations.
Other treatment options include low-risk pesticides indicated for termite use, including bait traps and liquid soil-applied termiticides. There are also conventional barrier treatments, wood treatments, and building materials with built-in termiticides available.
Your treatment is going to depend on your infestation. Even if your inspector doesn’t find any indications of infestation, there are other signs of their presence.
For example, hearing quiet clicking from the walls could indicate the presence of a colony. When termites get irritated, they shake their bodies and can cause the sound with the vibrations.
You can test this by playing loud noises like rock music, which one study reportedly found very effective. Termites are highly sensitive insects and react to any vibrations caused by sound waves reverberated in the wood.
Doors and windows that are difficult to open can also indicate termites. The insects’ tunneling causes the wood in the frames to wrap, which it hard to open them.
Due to how termites eat through the interior of wood, it will leave the area hollow and will sound papery or empty when tapped. Another obvious sign is seeing “white ants” around your home, along with flying termites soar around.
Remember that it’s your home, and if you think it’s under attack from termites, take steps to protect it. If there is an infestation, prompt treatment is vital to prevent further damage.
Even on rare occasions when termites irreparably damage your home, the financial strain incurred by typical damages can be just as devastating. It is important to note that termite damage is not normally covered by homeowner’s insurance, and can easily be in the thousands.
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