Termites have been causing damage to homes as long as homeowners have been buying them and can cause significant damage if not controlled. They feed on just about anything made of wood or other similar material including structural framing, trim, doors, windows and even wallpaper. Hopefully your home was constructed using a preventive termite treatment but even under the best of circumstances, the risk of termite infestation is always a concern.
Depending on the species, a termite colony can contain thousands to millions of termites all after one thing: the wood in your home. Over time, the damage can be very extensive even resulting in significant structural damage. Knowing what to look for can be the difference between a $700 treatment and repair bill or a $7,000 one. Prevention and early detection are something every homeowner should learn about to keep their home safe from these hungry pests.
What to Look For
Most termites carry own their daily destruction of your home without you ever even knowing they are there. The most common species, Subterranean Termites, live beneath the soil and travel back and forth from their nest to your home using mud tubes they have built for easy access to all that wood.
These tubes can often be seen along the sides of slab foundations and beneath crawl spaces running up piers and walls. These mud tubes are a sure sign of an infestation but often go undetected if these areas aren’t inspected routinely.
Termites like to expand their territory when a colony gets to a certain size and they do this by sending out swarmers which are termites with wings. Their job is to find a new source of food (like your home) and establish a new colony. Most often seen in Spring, they are very similar to flying ants but there are a couple of differences that are easy to identify. Termite swarmers have two sets of wings just like ants, but they are equal in length. Flying ants have segmented bodies, while termites don’t. If you do find that you have, or think you have, termites your best solution is to call a professional pest control company.
Termites like to set up shop in places where there is moisture and, of course, wood. You can take some steps to keep the moisture levels around your home to a minimum. Crawl spaces make an ideal environment for termites but with a little prevention, you can keep the risk down. A moisture barrier can be laid over the majority of the soil in the crawl space limiting the accumulation of moisture. Adequate ventilation using automatic foundation vents further reduces the amount of moisture by creating a steady flow of air through the crawl space.
On the outside of your home, water should always be diverted away from the home with gutters and downspouts and when necessary, corrugated pipe. Keeping a gap between the exterior of your home and any mulch or shrubbery creates a void that prevents termites from hiding out and building their mud tubes. Firewood and any other type of wood should always be stored as far away from your home as practical to prevent termites from accessing your home.