How to Prevent Termite Damage

By:

Eddie Connor

March 3, 2014

Every spring, unsuspecting homeowners discover that termites are destroying their homes. Nationwide, termite damage adds up to billions of dollars each year. In one case, a homeowner discovered a termite infestation that had reached books in their living room. Termites had eaten through the home’s foundation, up the wall, and through a wooden bookshelf.

These wood destroyers are attracted to a food supply of soft wood like firewood, lumber and other building materials. When it comes to preventing termite damage, it helps to understand the two common types of termites and how they access your home – so you can use exclusion techniques to keep them out.

Types of Termites

There are two types of termites: Subterranean and drywood termites. Subterranean termites nest in the ground and are always hidden from view. They travel under the soil, beneath the surface of wood or in mud tunnels. Conversely, drywood termites nest inside the wood they infest, such as structural wood and furniture. Drywood termites can arrive and infest from the air.

Both types of termites can cause significant damage to a home, garage and other structures.

Subterranean Termite Damage

Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in the U.S., and our home turf in the DC area experiences high infestations of them. This type of termite thrives on moisture and typically invades a structure at the foundation, where they travel through the soil, entering through cracks in plumbing connections, expansion joints, and slabs. Porches and decks that have direct contact with the ground also invite termites to invade.

Signs of subterranean termites include:

Mud tubes

These tubes provide shelter for the termites and can be seen extending from the ground to the infested wood. While tubes can be visible on concrete foundations, they can also be hidden behind baseboards and siding.

Evidence of winged termites

Known as “swarmers,” these flying termites are a telltale sign of an infestation. Look for them around light fixtures, doors and vents. You may also spot their discarded wings on windowsills, floors and in spider webs.

Dark or blistering wood

This type of termite eats the soft spring wood leaving the hard exterior wood intact – so termite damage is evident through dark spots or blistering. Damaged wood will sound hollow when tapped.

Drywood Termite Damage

Because drywood termites can invade through the air, they typically enter structures through vents in the attic or foundation, under wood shingles, eaves or natural cracks and joints in window and door frames.

Signs of drywood termites include round “kick holes” in wood and distinctive fecal pellets that are hard and angular in shape. The fecal pellets are commonly found scattered near “kick holes.” Wood affected by this drywood termite damage appears smooth and textured and has a hollow sound when tapped.

Preventing Termite Damage

Protecting your home from termite damage starts with eliminating the temptations for these voracious wood eaters.

  1. Remove debris from around your home’s foundation and walls. Move firewood and lumber away from your foundation. Inside your house, clear away paper and boxes from against your walls, especially in the basement.
  2. Eliminate sources of excess moisture around your home. Is your foundation wet? This could be a sign of leaky water pipes in your basement. Do you have standing water near your house or on your roof? Clean your gutters and install a gutter protection system to prevent moisture that attracts pests. Divert sprinkler systems away from the foundation.
  3. Keep mulch away from your foundation. If you have flower beds close to the foundation, rake the mulch away from the foundation. You may also want to use hardwood mulch instead of soft mulch.
  4. Respect the 6-inch rule. Keep wooden parts of the house like decks and porches at least 6 inches above the soil.
  5. Look for entry points. Inspect cracks or joints in concrete slabs for evidence of the pests and restrict access by using metal flashing when building decks or porches made of wood.

The best way to prevent termite damage is through regular monitoring and inspection. Pest control professionals know how and where to look for termites, and prevent what can amount to costly damage to your property.

If you think you might have a termite infestation, give us a call today to schedule a no-obligation inspection. We offer one-time termite services or free termite treatments for customers who have our year-round pest protection plus plan.