Termites are tiny insects that play a vital role in nature by breaking down dead plant matter and enriching the soil. However, when they invade human homes, they can cause serious problems.
Termites feed on wood and can damage the structure and safety of a house. If left untreated, termite damage can make a house uninhabitable and require costly repairs. That’s why it’s important to know how to look for termite damage and prevent further infestation.
In this article, we will show you how to spot the signs of termites and what to do if you find them.
What Is Termite Damage?
Termites are wood-eating insects that live underground and often go undetected. They cause termite damage, which is the harm they do to wooden structures and crops. This can compromise the strength and security of a house or building, and these damages are responsible for billions of dollars in repairs every year.
Termite damage can be detected by looking for signs such as hollow or crumbling wood, mud tubes, frass (termite droppings), and swarming termites.
How to Look for Termite Damage
Different types of termites cause different types of damage so you’ll want to check for each of them. Here are some ways to look for termite damage according to the type of termite.
Subterranean Termite Damage
The most common and harmful type of termite in the United States is the subterranean termite. They live in the soil and in wood that touches the ground. They feed on softwood along the grain, leaving behind a honeycomb-like pattern in the wood. To reach the building, they make shelter tubes out of soil, saliva, feces, and other stuff. These tubes can be seen on walls, floors, attics, boards, and sheetrock.
Drywood Termite Damage
Drywood termites live inside wooden constructions, such as structural timber, furniture, and hardwood floors. They are less common than subterranean termites, but they can cause significant damage if left untreated.
Drywood termites carve out large areas of wood by biting with and against the grain. They create smooth tunnels and rooms without any dirt or mud. They also eject fecal pellets, known as frass, from their holes and chambers. These pellets pile up on the floor under the wood that they infest. Drywood termite damage can be hard to detect because it is often hidden behind walls or under paint.
Dampwood Termite Damage
Dampwood termites live in decaying wood with high moisture content. They are usually found in damp areas near water sources, such as leaky pipes, roofs, or gutters. Dampwood termites do not build tubes or push out frass like subterranean or drywood termites. Instead, they leave behind a series of chambers and tunnels inside the wood. Dampwood termite damage can be recognized by the presence of fungus or mold on the wood surface, as well as a rotten or musty smell.
How to Prevent and Repair Termite Damage
The best way to prevent termite damage is to avoid creating conditions that attract termites to your home. Some of the steps you can take are:
- Get rid of dead trees and stumps around your yard. These can serve as food sources and nesting sites for termites.
- Use treated wood to build structures. Treated wood is resistant to termite attacks and can protect your home from infestation.
- Inspect and deal with common termite entry points. These include cracks in concrete, seams where plumbing and electrical cords are run, and gaps around doors and windows. You can seal these openings with caulk or foam to prevent termites from accessing your home. You also want to ensure there is no wood-to-soil contact anywhere around your home.
- Avoid spreading mulch too close to your home. Mulch can retain moisture and provide shelter for termites. You should keep mulch at least six inches away from your foundation and use gravel or stone instead of wood chips.
- Install termite shields. Termite shields are metal barriers that are placed between the foundation and the wood frame of your home. They can deter termites from tunneling through the soil and reaching the wood.
- Arrange periodic inspections by a licensed termite professional. A professional can detect signs of termite activity and recommend the best treatment options for your situation.
To help prevent termites, it’s wise to reduce moisture around the property and keep firewood away from buildings. In case you do encounter any damage caused by termites, make sure to contact a professional termite control professional. Our licensed experts at Stampede Pest Control will eliminate existing termite colonies and we can set up ongoing monitoring to ensure you never have termites again. Contact us if need fast and affordable help.