Nothing literally brings a house down like a party of wood-munching pests. Termites alone cause billions of dollars in damage each year. Just how common is the problem? As a home inspector, I toured over 6,000 homes in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, finding termite activity in about a third of them.
Like us on Thanksgiving, termites especially love two things: plenty to eat and plenty of time to devour it. Termites live in nests deep within the soil under your home. Their day planners include hours of munching on wood, followed by a return to the soil for water.
How can you tell if it’s definitely termites that are causing the damage to your home? It’s important to be sure, since identifying the culprit pest is the first step to determining how to treat for them. The differences between carpenter ants and termites are subtle, but easy to spot if you know what to look for. First, a termite has a two-segmented body (head and torso). Ants have three segments. Termites also have straight antennae while an ant’s antennae are bent.
Once you have confirmed a termite infestation, the next step is to take action. To reclaim your home, have a professional treat it with an effective undetectable liquid. Applied directly to the soil, this kind of chemical can’t be seen or smelled by hungry termites, who very happily take it back to the nest to pass on to the rest of the community. As a result, termites disappear from your property and don’t return.
Additional common sense tips to keep termites away include:
- Wood Away: Keep all firewood and wood products away from your foundation and off the ground. Keep fence slats and any wood trim around your house up off the soil.
- Stay Dry: Keep your house dry, and check gutters and downspouts to ensure that water drains away from the foundation.
- Elevate: Remove all wood, cardboard and paper from crawlspaces and basement floors. If storage is necessary, make sure it’s well above floor surfaces to avoid attracting insects.
Homes with concrete slab foundations can be extra high-risk for termites, as they offer the pests’ preferred environment and are the most difficult to inspect. Regardless of the type of home you have, we recommend a preventative termite treatment and regular inspections by qualified pros to make sure infestations are spotted early enough to reduce the risk of serious damage.