DETECTING TERMITES: RISK AREAS IN YOUR HOME
Subterranean termites need food, water and shelter, similar to most insects.
These 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 that they need. To detect termites and safeguard your home, consider the following risk areas.
On the exterior, overflowing gutters and downspouts can cause excessive water near the foundation. While termites do not sense water from a distance, when worker termites find water, they will put down a scent or pheromone directing other termites to the area. It is always best to keep gutters clear and to direct water away from the downspout by using extensions or drywells. Any time excessive moisture can be reduced, it helps minimize the chances of termite infestation.
Utility pipes which go through a foundation wall or floor can provide access to the house. Termites like to follow the lines, and if the foundation is not sealed where gas, water or electric lines pass through the foundation, termites can enter the house and use the house’s wood as a food source. Bath traps in slab houses are a common area for termite infestation, due to leaking water or condensation. Air conditioning condensate lines or drip lines at the foundation can create pools of water, making it an area ideal for termites.
Wood chips and mulch can be a food source for termites. While most people are not willing to part with their 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, any wood in contact with the soil, including scrap wood in crawl spaces, can be infested by termites. 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 shelter tubes to gain access, these will be readily visible so that the inspector can see the activity.
Many houses have front stoops which are dirt-filled porches. Termites in the dirt have easy access to the band joist wood in a crawl space. In fact, in crawl space homes, termites are frequently found behind a dirt-filled porch.
Crawl spaces with inadequate clearance cannot be inspected, and early detection of termites is unlikely. In addition, dripping plumbing from condensation of cold water lines can be a water source.
Foam Plastic Insulation Panels
In order to save energy, builders sometimes install foam plastic insulation panels on the exterior of homes, inside a crawl space or under a garage slab. Termites will readily infest foam board; not for food, but because it insulates them from temperature changes and predators.
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 termites.
Learn more termite detection and termite signs in the termite section of the Pest Library.
Schedule a free termite inspection today and let us develop a customized protection plan for your home.