Risk Areas: Termite Detection


Just like most insects, subterranean termites and drywood termites need food, water, and shelter.

Both types of termites are constantly looking for food sources. In nature, they feed on downed trees, old tree roots, and any other cellulose food source. When termites bump into our houses, they seek areas that provide the food, water, and shelter they need.

To detect termites and help safeguard your home, consider the following risk areas.


termite damage on a home

On the exterior of your home, overflowing gutters and downspouts can cause excessive water near the foundation. Since subterranean termites prefer moist wood, water around the home can contribute to a termite infestation. When worker termites find a food source they will put down a scent or pheromone, directing other termites to the area.

It is always best to keep gutters clear and direct water away from the downspout by using extensions or drywells. Any time excessive moisture can be reduced, it helps to minimize the chances of termite infestation.

Utility Pipes

Utility pipes that run through a foundation wall or floor can give termites access to your house. Preventing termite access is important since moist wood frequently is associated with leaking plumbing pipes. Bath traps in slab houses are a common area for termite infestation due to moisture from leaking water. In addition, air conditioning condensate or drip lines can create pools of water, making an ideal environment for termites

Wood Chips

termites crawling on wood

Wood chips and mulch can be a food source and also create an environment of moisture for termites. While most people are not willing to part with mulch, it is best not to pile mulch against the foundation or siding of your house, where termites might find a foundation crack or a path into the wood siding to enter your home. In fact, termites can infest any wood in contact with the soil, including firewood or scrap wood in crawl spaces. Any wood in the house should be several inches above the closest ground contact, creating a gap so that the termites cannot go directly from the soil into the house’s wood. While termites can build mud tubes to gain access, these should be readily visible so that the inspector can see the activity.


Termites in the dirt have easy access to the band joist and other wood components in a crawl space. In fact, in crawl space homes, termites are frequently found behind a dirt-filled porch.

Crawl spaces

damage on bay window

Crawl spaces with inadequate clearance cannot be inspected, and early detection of termites is unlikely. In addition, dripping water from plumbing leaks or condensation of cold water lines can be a water source that attracts and favors termites

Foam Plastic Insulation Panels

In order to save energy, builders sometimes install foam plastic insulation panels on the exterior foundation walls or inside the crawl space of homes. Problems may be created when insulation panels are installed below the soil grade line. While termites obtain no nutritional value from feeding on these materials, panels may enable the termites to avoid the soil treatments designed for termite control.

Homeowners should periodically inspect their homes for signs of excessive water and wood or cellulose-based materials and take steps to eliminate these potentially conducive conditions to subterranean and drywood termites

Learn more termite detection and termite signs in the termite section of the Pest Library
If you suspect termites or want to check your home, you can schedule a free termite inspection today so we can develop a customized protection plan for your home.