Statistically speaking, your property is far more likely to be damaged by termites than by fire.
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage annually.
Just about every property in the U.S is at risk of termites, apart perhaps from those located in the state of Alaska.
As a home or business owner, you should be aware of the risk of termites to your property, especially because termite damage is not covered by most home insurance policies.
Early detection of termites can help to minimize the cost of repairs needed to fix any damage caused.
How do I know if I have termites? Your first clue to a termite problem may be small flying insects – known as termite Swarmers - flying near your windows and leaving behind their discarded wings. This phenomenon generally occurs in the spring time.
However, termites are active all year round, and as termite swarmers look very similar to flying ants, correct identification is critical as part of a professional customized solution.
Termites are secretive pests and spotting them can prove to be very tricky. They can live undetected in hollow doors and wall voids for many years.
Apart from spotting termite swarmers in the spring, another obvious indicator of their presence is the damage they inflict on properties.
To actually tell if you have termites, it is often easier to look for damage they can typically cause.
As termites feed primarily on wood, it is this natural feeding behavior which causes significant damage to property.
All homes and businesses, even those built out of stone or brick are at risk of termites. Structural supports and other building components even in these types of property will still typically be made out of wood and other cellulose based materials, which is a great food source.
As well as damage to wooden structures, including furniture, termites have also been known to damage insulation, plaster, books and even swimming pool liners.
Termites can damage laminate flooring and even skirting boards. Affected flooring may blister and sag in certain areas and checking underneath the flooring may help to uncover termite activity. You can also check if your floor feels more spongy and perhaps springs more than usual.
Look for unexplained cracks on internal walls. As termites consume cellulose found in timber within walls, the visible cracks could be a sign of termite activity inside.
Wooden ceilings, beams, architraves and rafters in attics are just as much at risk of termite damage as wooden structures located nearer ground level. Look for cracks on ceilings and cornices.
The type of foundation your property is built on, has a big impact on how easy it may be for termites to gain entry in search of food.
Although a lot of foundations nowadays are made of concrete - and termites do not eat concrete - they are able to squeeze into any crack within these concrete blocks and from there gain access to floor joists, which are still made out of wood.
If you are building an extension, lay a termite barrier beneath the concrete slab in order to prevent termites from traveling through foundation cracks
Homes with crawl spaces appear to be at greater risk of damage as their foundations are still traditionally made out of wood.
Windows and doors, which are infested with termites, may become difficult to open, as their tunneling and eating may make the frames irregular and misshapen.
Decking and wooden fence posts in your garden are at great risk of termites. Long-term damage could lead to collapse. Termite-treated timber or metal posts, can help to avoid this problem.
Termites may also damage trees, leading to branches falling off.
Access moisture in your home due to loose, broken or damp roof tiles can attract termites. Broken roof tiles are a great source of moisture, which will attract termites and allow them access further inside your home. Once inside, termites are able to maneuver through a property easily and attack and eat away at wood components in all locations.
Make it a habit to replace any damaged or water-logged roof tiles to avoid make your roof a haven for termites.
Termites typically feed on wood underneath the surface, making them invisible. As they eat through the wood, without your knowledge, they create hollow galleries underneath the surface, making the actual structure sound hollow, if and when you knock or tap it. Wooden doors, furniture and wooden structural supports in your property are all at risk and should be checked if you are concerned.
Frass is another word for termite droppings. Although they cause no damage, droppings are an obvious indicator of the presence of termites and the potential damage the pests can inflict in your property, as frass is the by-product of their eating.
Mud tubes act as protection for termites and are commonly found near the foundations of your home. Typically subterranean termite species build mud tubes, which also provides moisture. They are made up of soil and termite droppings. Avoid attracting termites by removing moisture rich environments, and storing firewood, mulch and wood chips away from the home.
Look for mud tubes on exterior or basement walls. They are easy to spot with the naked eye.
At Ehrlich, we confirm the invading termite species through a visual identification rather than just looking at the evidence of the damage to your building and its location.
However, some of the points below could be of help to you, when checking your building for signs of activity:
Subterranean termites begin their feeding process (damage) from the ground up and typically enter a building through the sub-structure. Homes with crawl spaces are at great risk. It is here you should look for evidence of damaged wood and mud tubes. Wood damaged by this particular species develops “galleries” (hollow tunnels), which run along the grain of the wood.
Drywood termites typically enter structures near the roof line or other exposed wood to begin building a colony. Inspect your attic for evidence of damaged wood. Look for tiny holes in the wood with evidence of frass collecting nearby. Probing the wood can also expose galleries as well.
Termites eat 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. This means they are constantly consuming wood and damaging it.
If left untreated, termites can seriously weaken the wood within your home leading to the possible collapse of the building.
To help guard your home against termites and avoid expensive repair bills, Ehrlich offers comprehensive termite prevention plans to minimize the risk from this pest.
With over 80 years experience in termite control, Ehrlich has the expertise to provide effective, customized preventative methods.
IT IS ESSENTIAL TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION AT THE FIRST SIGNS OF INFESTATION