In some parts of the world (including the United States), it’s not a matter of if you will get termites, but when you will get termites. You can’t get too angry about the issue. You just need to deal with it and move on.
Figuring out if you even have termites can be confusing. The outside of your foundation beams may look solid, yet be hollow inside from the gnawing of insects. Very often termites have been eating away at the house for two years before a homeowner discovers a problem. Some people only figure out about an infestation when they’re remodeling.
Depending on the complexity of the issue, you may be able to address it yourself by applying chemicals around the house. Deep infestations may require replacing beams, drywall, molding and more. Unless you have building skills, a contractor will need to come in and tear out sections of the house and dig out parts of the foundation.
Signs of Infestation
Certain parts of the house are more prone to termite infestation. Most termites don’t live by wood alone. They also need moisture to survive. As a result, they’re regularly traveling down to the ground and back up again to eat more.
Places where the wood meets dirt and other moist surfaces are particularly susceptible to termite invasion. If you have furniture close by that contains cellulose, make sure it’s kept off the ground.
How do you know a colony has entered your domain? There are a few signs. Outside or in the basement you may see mud shelter tubes around your structure. These look like covered pathways and are harder to break than ant hills or tubes. If you crack one and see insects that look like white ants, it’s very possible they’re termites.
Inside of the house, signs of a termite infestation can appear along the walls. The molding may be soft in parts and easily dented. check for honeycomb patterns in the wood. Look for bubbling or paint flaking in drywall. Behind the paint will be a salt and pepper pattern and the paper will be missing between the pant and the sheetrock. Of course, holes in the wood are the obvious telltale sign.
Dry wood termites can be tough to identify and hard for any inspector to find. They travel slowly, as a colony, through the structure. Piles of frass (termite poop) are also a telltale sign of termites. If you see swarmer termites (ones with wings) that’s usually a sign of a longterm infestation. These breeders typically take two years to develop during an infestation. If you have them, you’ll likely need to call a residential pest control service to address the issue.
If your house has no property damage, or if you want to take care of killing the termites separately from fixing the material damage, it may be possible to do so. To exterminate the colony, you’ll need to dig a six inch by six inch trench around the house (or condo).
Termidor SC and Taurus SC are two most common insecticides used to kill termites. Depending on the size of your application, a bottle can be bought for anywhere between $50 to $200 (the amount of chemicals in those bottles varies).
The insecticides are then diluted in water and poured into those trenches you just dug. Don’t expect the colony to disappear overnight. The way these chemicals work is that the insects walk through the poison while traveling up and down from the house back to the colony. Eventually they spread it throughout all of the members, including the queen. That process can take weeks.
While these chemicals are a lot more harmful to termites than humans, you have to wear long sleeves, goggles, a face mask, and gloves when pouring it into the trench. Then after you fill in the trench, you’ll need to add more insecticide on top. Be sure to read the instructions for details. Some say spray the top with more insecticide; others suggest a larger concentration.
In many structures, it may also make sense to install pressure treated wood and also apply insecticide to the new framework. While these steps won’t guarantee another infestation won’t occur, they can help.
Each home attacked by termites will have specific issues to address. Some may need to have the foundation rebuilt replacing wood beams with insecticide-washed concrete. Others will require rebuilding rooms with new framing, drywall and molding.
For most DIYers, these rebuilding projects will go beyond their capabilities. That said, even just killing off the colony will save a thousand dollars. Termite infestations are serious business, so it's important to act quickly at the first sign of an issue.
With a few simple steps like looking for visual signs, listening for activity, fixing leaks immediately, and reducing access to wood or cellulose sources, you can help prevent termites from taking over your home.