Termite Inspection - Termite Damage - Home Inspector
home inspection tech talk

Termite Party, All You Can Eat, Invitation Not Required

If you were a termite, that would be the call you have been waiting for. The word goes out that it is not even necessary to B.Y.O.W. (Bring Your Own Wood), who cares if anyone is home, there’s plenty to eat and the termite party will continue until the crash (click to see the termite party) .

And the crash will occur if the party continues unnoticed for an extended period of time. Termite damage caused by concealed  termites can result in substantial structural damage if left unchecked. When your home inspector conducts the inspection, the home inspection engineer should check thoroughly for evidence of termites; your mortgage lender will ask for a clear termite certificate. If termites are uncovered, a termiticide (anti-termite chemical) treatment or termite baiting system will be required to end the party and a licensed professional engineer can design a repair procedure for the damaged structure.

There are different types of termites, we’ll limit this article to subterranean termites, that is, those species that make their home in the ground near a source of moisture, warmth, and wood. Subterranean termites send their workers to find food for the colony, starting in the lower portions of the home; when food (any cellulose containing material) is found, the party begins and damage is inflicted upon the home. Termite tastes vary, they will feed not only on the wooden framing of the home, they also enjoy wooden flooring materials, and sub-flooring. Appetizers can include, paper on sheetrock walls, newspapers, magazines and just about anything that contains cellulose.

There are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of a termite infestation. Be sure that there is no wood to earth contact of any portions of the home, do not allow wooden landscape chips in flower beds to contact the siding of the home. Keep leaders and gutters clean and free flowing to reduce the moisture content in and about the home. Some homes carry a much higher risk of termite infestation, for example, slab on grade homes with radiant floor heating are a natural breeding ground for termites; if you own a home with radiant floor heating, periodic inspections by a competent exterminator is a prudent maintenance procedure.

Termite Party, All You Can Eat

Termites are like people who eat Oreo cookies from the inside out; they eat a wooden beam inside leaving only a thin shell on the outside and this makes it difficult to find termites. Signs of termites include damaged wood, termite shelter tubes (sand colored tubes about the thickness of a pencil), termite wings, a termite swarm, and of course, loud termite music and noisy termite party goers. Click to see a photo of a subterranean termite worker and compare to a carpenter ant.

We recall a residential home located in an area zoned for commercial use. There was an elderly person living in the home who never went into the basement. When the home was inspected by InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C., we found extensive termite damage to the first floor flooring structure. The buyer was an accountant who intended to convert the home from residential use to office use and intended to bring his heavy file cabinets into the house. Based upon the severe damage and the weight of the files, we advised the buyer not to bring the files into the home until such time as the flooring structure was completely replaced. Fortunately, a major rehabilitation of the flooring system was undertaken based upon our advice.

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