In the forest, termites are useful creatures. They enter a dead tree and digest it into humus (rich topsoil).
Every year, termites cause a staggering $5 billion in damage, according to the National Pest Management Association. If left unchecked, termites can eventually destroy an entire home, chewing their way through wood support beams, roofs and flooring. They have also been known to cause electric failure as they tunnel their way through cables in search of food.
Unfortunately, termite damage is generally not covered by homeowners insurance, and you should contact your agent and review your policy for details. The reason termite damage is not typically covered is termites do their ‘work’ slowly and over time. The destruction is not sudden, like a storm or fire. Fortunately, with maintenance and attention from the homeowner, termite damage can be stopped or prevented altogether.
By following these treatments and preventive tactics, homeowners can reduce the possibility of an infestation in their homes.
Treat the soil around your house. The first and most important step is to use termiticide to treat the soil around the house. Some choose the DIY route, but professionals can typically get this done in less than a day. Once in place, a treatment will last several years.
To treat the soil, a 6-inch trench is dug around the house, right up next to the foundation, into which several gallons of the chemical mix are poured in. Some professionals will also inject the concrete foundation with chemicals. When termites ingest the treated soil, they die. They can also carry the chemical back to their colony, with the potential of eliminating much of the population.
Choose something other than mulch. For foundation plantings near your house, choose rock or pea gravel instead of wood mulch.
Maintain proper drainage. Termites are attracted to moisture and by maintaining proper drainage around your house, you’re taking a proactive step in deterring termites.
Contract with a pest control company. Look into a warranted spraying contract with a pest control company. For an annual fee, your home is inspected and sprayed. If termites get in after all and cause damage, the costs of repairing it are covered.
Signs of a termite infestation
It’s important to remember that termites are often mistaken as white ants. If you see signs of termites, contact a pest control company immediately.
Mud tubes on foundation walls. One telltale sign of an infestation is a series of mud tubes on the surface of foundation walls. These are little tunnels built from chewed-up wood, soil and feces that allow termites to get around and evade predators.
Tiny holes in the wood. These are often the size of nail holes with mud and dirt near or in the entrances.
Wood that sounds hollow. If you see cracks and gaps in the wood that sound hollow when you tap it, you may have been hit by termites.
Once pest control treats your home for the infestation, contact a professional contractor if necessary to assess the damage and replace the damaged wood.