Eliminate Evidence of Termites on a Fence
LESLIE: Karen in Tennessee wants to talk fencing. What can we help you with?
KAREN: Hi, I had termites on my wood fence. I had a local pest control company eliminate the problem but my question is how do I eliminate the evidence of the termites on my fence?
LESLIE: Where do you see the damage? Is it on a picket? Is it on the post? Is it on a rail?
KAREN: It’s on the rail.
TOM: And is the rail actually damaged or is it just covered with mud tunnels?
KAREN: Covered with mud tunnels.
TOM: OK, so you can just brush those off. What happens is the termites use like, I guess we could call it saliva and they mix sand with it …
TOM: … and it has a bleaching effect on the wood. And so it will make it somewhat discolored but you can scrape those off and then if you don’t like the look you could simply stain the fence.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. There might have been a little damage on one part of it.
TOM: If there’s just a – if there’s so little damage that you’re not sure, Karen, don’t worry about it. Termites are Mother Nature’s way of getting rid of dead wood. It’s very common to have them on fencing and if you treated the area around the house – was the fence near your house?
KAREN: Yes, uh-huh.
TOM: Well, then it’s a good thing that you had the house treated. But I wouldn’t worry about it. I would simply brush off the mud tunnels and move on. If it’s not substantially damaged then just ignore it.
KAREN: And then you said otherwise I can stain it.
TOM: Yeah, you could stain it.
TOM: Yep, mm-hmm. Absolutely.
KAREN: One other thing. What about – what is it? The power …?
TOM: Power washing?
TOM: Well, I mean you can certainly do that when you’re prepping for staining but, really, all you have to do is brush off the mud tubes that were on there. See, termites live in the soil. They come up into the wood to feed and because they can’t be exposed to sunlight they build these tubes; these sort of quarter-inch tubes – they’re called shelter tunnels – and then they crawl inside of that. So when you see all that dirt on the outside of the fencepost, those are the shelter tunnels and sometimes they’ll bury through the wood, too, but if it’s not substantially damaged I would just ignore it. Treat it like as if you had some rotted wood. If it’s a little bit of area there just fill it with a wood filler and then either stain it or paint it and move on.
KAREN: Oh, great. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Karen. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.