Termites are one of the most damaging and difficult pests that could invade your home. They and other Wood Destroying Insects (WDI) can target the wooden supports of your home, leaving your home with structural damage that can mean replacing whatever parts they’ve hollowed out for their meals. Getting rid of them can be difficult due to their small size and large colonies, so it’s always best to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place.
Thanks to the wooden frames and foundations of many houses, termites often cause billions of dollars worth of damage annually. The best ways to stop your home from becoming a tempting target are to:
- Prevent Excess Moisture
- Promote Air Circulation
- Treat Wood
- Remove Rotting Wood
- Trim Back Trees and Bushes
What Are The Signs Of A Termite Infestation?
Several different species of termites are prevalent throughout the United States, but they can all have the power to damage a home. As such, you should watch for any signs of infestation, as catching the infestation early can prevent more significant damage. A colony usually emerges during the spring and summer months, looking for its primary food source – cellulite. Cellulite is found in wood, paper, and cardboard.
Subterranean termites can cause damage to the softwood of a house, such as a subfloor underneath hardwood flooring. If you notice your hardwood floors buckling, appearing wavy, blistering, or gaining discoloration, they may be signs of a subterranean termite infestation. This warped wood can make it hard to smoothly close doors and windows, another early warning sign of an infestation.
Because termites eat wood from the inside out, they are usually only visible once they have done serious harm. Most infestations are discovered after homeowners accidentally break a newly-hollowed piece of wood, which is so brittle it can be damaged simply by knocking into them with an object like a mop.
Another obvious sign that your home is infested comes from drywood termites, which nest inside the wood. While they eat out tunnels in the wood, they excrete waste after digesting the cellulose. These are small pellets that can resemble sawdust or coffee grounds. Mounds can form on the window sills or floors near where the termites are digging.
How to Avoid Termites
One of the easiest ways to make your home repel termites is to ensure that your home is not a good place for a colony to settle. Although you might not be able to stop your house from being a food source, you can make it so that the environment is not conducive to the colony.
Termites live in moist environments, so remove any excess moisture that might attract termites. Fix any leaking pipes or other plumbing immediately. Air conditioning units are also prone to frequent leakage and can create excess moisture, so be certain to schedule HVAC maintenance fairly frequently. It is recommended to have the system inspected, cleaned, and serviced at least once a year.
Ensuring that your gutters and downspouts are functioning and adequately diverting water away from your home helps avoid stagnant water leaf decay, which can create an appetizing food source and the perfect breeding environment for termites. Lack of drainage around the foundation can also lead to standing water, which can cause moisture and
Similarly, crawl spaces under houses can become damp if they are not well circulated. Basements and attics can also trap ambient moisture if not properly ventilated, forming conditions appealing to termite colonies. The ventilation will help any water naturally occurring in these locations to dry before it becomes a problem. Lack of ventilation can also cause timber decay, making the rotting wood an even more attractive food source. If you find signs of dampness or mildew in your home, it may be a sign that you need to speak to a professional about proper ventilation.
If you are building an addition to your house, such as a fence or a deck, you should consider using pressure-treated wood. It contains a chemical preservative containing insecticide and can significantly reduce the risk of termite infestation, although it does not eliminate the threat. There are also a few types of wood that are naturally resistant to termites, such as cedar, a natural insect repellant that also repels termites. Termites also tend to avoid teak, which is too challenging for them to chew through.
There are some ways to treat already existing wood through the use of chemicals sprayed on the surface of the wood and allowed to dry. This can be done with a borax-based chemical solution but only on wood that has not been previously treated. The treatment will not be effective if the wood has been water-sealed.
Remove Food Sources
Termites are attracted to wood, so you can reduce the possible food sources in the area to discourage them. Remove any rotting branches or tree stumps in the area and store any firewood at least 20-30 feet away from your foundation. Do not leave decaying piles of grass clippings or dead leaves. You should also avoid excess mulch in your garden or near the foundation.
Trim Back Trees and Bushes
Live food sources near your home’s foundation can also be a possible food source for termites. Try to keep plants several feet away or use planters and window boxes for the plants and flowers you’d like to decorate with. Bushes should be trimmed back around 2 to 3 feet from the foundation. They can also be shelter areas and cause moisture build-up. Tree branches should be trimmed away from the property, as they will drop leaves on your roof and into the gutters, creating further moisture problems that might attract aerial termites. Large tree limbs can also be hazards if a branch breaks during a storm.
What To Do If You Have Termites
If you already have termites in your house, there are a few treatments to get rid of them. If you suspect a small infestation, you can apply termite-killing products to your home’s exterior. You can also apply chemicals on the interior or set up termite baits. These will help in the short term, but an exterminator will be needed, as getting rid of a colony can require many different steps and tools.
Suppose you’re not sure you have termites. In that case, you can get a Termite (WDI) Inspection Report from a licensed professional like Kissee Inspections. We will determine the presence or absence of termites and other destructive insects on the property. This is often added on to home inspection packages for those selling or buying a new home and wanting to guarantee its market value and viability. Reach out to us with any questions, and schedule your termite inspection today!