With Permission From Consumers Advocate (consumersadvocate.org)
When you buy a house, you’re making a commitment that will last for years and years. This commitment means taking care of the structure and its surroundings. Pest control in general, and termite control in particular, are very important things to consider in order to maintain a proper home. And if you’re in the process of buying a home, you want to make sure that it’s termite-free. A home inspection can help you pay attention to some problem areas.
But how can you tell if a structure has termites? And how can you prevent them from coming in? Consider these five things.
1. Humidity is a Termite’s Best Friend
There are many ways in which you can minimize the possibility of termite infestation, but the most important might be reducing the moisture present in your home. A home inspector can point you in the right direction by finding leaky plumbing or leaky roofs, as well as seepage in your basement or crawlspace.
Clogged gutters and improperly oriented downspouts can create water accumulation close to the foundation or structural support beams. When humidity is present, it’s much more attractive for subterranean termites. And a termite infestation near the foundation can be potentially catastrophic and lead to thousands of dollars worth of damage.
2. Bait-and-Monitoring Systems Can Be of Great Help
Those green caps you see buried in the ground might be very important. They’re bait-and-monitoring systems set up by a pest control company and they’re used to eradicate subterranean termite colonies in an area.
Termite control companies insert canisters into the ground which are filled with wood or other material which termites eat to bait them. The wood is treated with chemicals that kill termites, but not before they pass it along to other termites in their colony.
By using bait-and-monitoring systems, homeowners can avoid mass fumigation and the spread of toxic chemicals on the ground. However, since it requires constant maintenance and monitoring from pest control companies, this method is usually a bit more expensive than liquid spraying.
Consider the costs and the method’s effectiveness and discuss the alternatives with your pest control specialist before deciding on a treatment option.
3. Weatherize Your Home
A home inspection can also help you identify areas where you need to weatherize your home. Sealing windows, using caulk to seal cracks and joints, installing weatherstripping, and maintaining good insulation can not only make your home more energy-efficient, but it can also prevent termites from getting in.
Fixing screens and using rubber door sweeps can also provide an extra layer of security against outside pest invaders. Most of these solutions are DIY projects but, if more specialized responses are necessary, you might need to obtain the services of a professional.
4. Look For Tell-Tale Signs of Infestation
Mud tubes, discarded wings, and small round pellets (frass) are surefire evidence that termites are or have been present.
Mud tubes are long, covered trails made out of dirt and termite saliva, which allows the insects to travel silently through your home. Their presence, even if they’re dried out and empty, can mean termites have been active in the area.
When mating season comes (usually the spring), termite colonies dispatch swarms of flying termites to procreate and set up new colonies. Many of these shed their wings and find places to infest. You might find piles of discarded wings on the ground next to light sources. This doesn’t necessarily mean the home’s infested, but it would be a good idea to check for other signs.
The small, round pellets you might see coming out of wooden closet doors or furniture is called frass. These pellets are termite droppings and indicate that a dry wood termite infestation is present.
5. A Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) Inspection Might Be Necessary
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, termites might be present in the home. If that’s the case, you should consider a wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspection, which is just a fancy name for a termite inspection. In fact, mortgage lenders might even require it.
Regular home inspections are a must whenever you’re considering buying or selling a home, and they might spot termite presence and alert you to it. However, they won’t be able to diagnose the problem and offer solutions.
A WDO inspection can tell you what type of termites are infecting the home and where they are located. They can also provide you with a plan to deal with the infestation.
By being attentive to these tips, you’ll be able to spot and take care of termite infestations in your home and prevent any potential damage to the structure.
(added from Long Bay HI) Please note that Long Bay Home Inspections DOES NOT do WDO inspections. Home Inspectors will look for the tell tale signs and report them when found, but many inspectors in the state are not licensed to do the entire WDO inspection (as required in SC). Many of us keep it that way so you can be confident no one is trying to sell you something you don’t really need.