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Termite Damage

Summary: One in thirty homes becomes infested with termites each year. Subterranean termites can easily tunnel into support posts or floor joints that are in contact with the soil. Here's how to detect termite damage and when you need to make repairs.

Did you know that termites never sleep? They might be eating you out of house and home 24/7, but you would never know it because they silently enter your house from beneath the slab or foundation. How often do you see what's going on under your house? Unless you are doing major reconstruction, the answer is “never”.

Let's say you discover a spot in your woodwork that is thin or hollow sounding. Might be termites at work. Or, say you find small holes in plaster or drywall. That also might signal a termite problem. This can be a serious headache for homeowners because termite treatments are expensive. However, in the long term it will cost more money to replace wood damaged by termites if no action is taken.

As we have all heard advertised, termites cause hundreds of millions of dollars

Termite damage

of damage to US homes each year. It's not just advertising when it actually happens to your home. Termites can go undetected in homes for long periods because they eat wood from the inside out. If the termites enter the home through wood that is in direct contact with the ground there may be no visible mud tubes on outer walls, allowing them to spread through a house undetected.

Wooden support beams, rafters, and floor joists can be difficult to inspect because they are difficult to access. A professional pest control operator qualified to treat termites, or an experienced building inspector, has certain tools like moisture meters and video scopes that can give them good ideas where termites might be hiding. However, even experienced professionals sometimes miss signs of termite activity.

The best way to avoid termite damage is to use pretreated wood for your home's construction and to get termite pre-construction treatment that prevents termites from traveling in the soil around your house. Treated wood and liquid pre-treatments become less effective over time, and even the most carefully protected home may not be immune from termites.

So what can you do? I suggest regular termite inspections of the wood on basement windowsills, the studs behind your kitchen sink, wooden steps on the interior and exterior, and baseboards around the floors. These are common spots where termite damage can be found. A good flashlight and a mirror to see behind and around obstructions is all you need. Or, you can call a

Termite tubes

professional pest control company to do the inspection, but expect a sales pitch and lots of follow up calls to go along with each visit.

If you find termite damage and want to make repairs, you must get rid of the termites first. This may seem obvious but I have dealt with many people who have replaced wood damaged by termites without calling an exterminator first. This only gives the termites fresh food! If critical support beam have termite damage, or if the damaged wood is behind utility pipes, it can be very costly to replace. It might be more cost effective to just attach another piece of lumber to the damaged lumber, leaving at least two or three inches of healthy wood on either side of the damage to where you attach the extra support beam. That method is called “scabbing.” I strongly suggest not tearing out damaged beams or scabbing on without consulting a building expert. You don't want your house falling down while trying to repair termite damage.

For more termite articles please click here .

Ask Rick A Question


05 Sep 2008, 12:45
the house i rent had termites before th owner said and he took care of it prior to me moving in 10 months ago. We started to notice these tiny white/clear little "ant" like bugs all over the house. the bathroom,kitchen in my dresser drawer, food cupboardsand in my food sometimes.Even in my dirty clothes, everywhere. at the same time i did notice some regular black ants starting summer and still now. but i know those are ants. what are the other one's called. could they be termites??
if they are i need to inform the owner right away. thanks
08 Nov 2008, 13:24
My house has wood siding and I had it treated for termites about 5 years ago. A couple of months ago, I noticed a smattering of tiny black "droppings" laying on the concrete patio floor right next to the outside wall of the house. The siding comes to about 2 inches or so from the concrete and I have gotten down and looked for mud tunnels along the bottom of the siding, but there is nothing. There are a couple of spots where these droppings occur. The dishwasher and the kitchen sink ore just on the other side of these outside wall locations. I have looked under the sink, but see nothing. I have never seen a roach whenI walk into the kitchen and turn on the lights. Any idea what Iam dealing with? Thanks
11 Jun 2009, 16:51
2 years ago I had to treat the inside and outside of my condo unit for Termites. For the outside, the exterminator drilled holes a few inches are part and placed smale tubes in them. I've noticed a small hole...size of the tipe of a ink pen....on my closet baseboard. Before killing it, I saw a small insect crawling under my bed with wings on it... My concern is not only my baseboards but my wood sledge bed b/c I noticed some time ago a few small holes at the foot of my bed. If I do have a problem, how do is treat my bed?
23 Nov 2009, 00:43
We've been living in the same house for two years, and just moved this week. The old house had so much damage in the structure - even the floors give just a little under your feet in certain areas - that we had to move. This year, one of the window frame pieces seemingly "rotted" and fell off, and our landlord never fixed it. (Actually, he never fixed anything for us.) However, we just finished the clean-up at the old place tonight and the last thing to be cleaned was the patio, which we haven't even opened the door to in months due to the cooler weather. However, when we did, the screen door (which is wooden) was covered with, literally, thousands of teeny black specs, which we thought was dirt at first - until they moved. They were flea-sized, but not fleas, and they had wings. They were much easier to squish than fleas as well. Not to mention we have a cat, and she doesn't have a flea on her, nor did we have them in the house. Plus, the door had what sort of looked like scratches out of it in areas - kind of like the paint being selectively scraped off. We put the pieces together, and now we're wondering if the problem with that place all along was termites. Would that description match them? Or could they be something else entirely? And, if they are termites, do they bite humans?
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