Termite Risk and Damage

Depending on the location and extent of the damage, and the building materials required to fix it, repairs can be complicated and costly. So catching the infestation early is important.

Hidden Threats

Structural Damage

In an average year, termites are responsible for $1 billion to $2 billion in property damage. Most of this damage is not covered by standard homeowner insurance policies. Termite infestations commonly go undetected until obvious signs of damage occur.

Key Points to Protect

Termites can damage a number of structural components in a house, including the following:

  • Floors

  • Support beams

  • Posts

  • Wall studs

  • Floor joists

  • Ceiling joists

  • Roof supports

  • Drywall or sheetrock

  • Attics

  • Foundations

Common signs of termite infestation include sagging floors and ceilings, traces of dust similar to dust, piles of wings that resemble scales and areas that seem to be slightly water damaged. Contrary to popular belief, termites are not partial to aging wooden structures; they have been known to inhabit new buildings within a short time after construction.

However, although structural failure due to termite damage is not at all uncommon, it can be easily prevented through the use of regular inspections and treatments. Trusted termite inspectors will provide two-part reports, outlining damage already present and potential causes and locations of future damage. Areas with a high likelihood of infestation include damp areas, woodpiles and loose wooden paneling. Addressing these threats may prevent termite infestation and can save homeowners considerable money on structural repairs.

If your termite inspector finds superficial termite damage during an inspection, ask him or her about the extent of the damage. While you may see only a small amount of damage, there may be more damage beneath the surface. For example, if a hardwood floor is damaged, termites likely have infested the subfloor and floor supports beneath it.

Expert Support

Treating the Damage

Discovering damage at your home is an unsettling experience, but a trusted pest control professional can help.

Termite Damage

What to Know About Damage Repair

Types of Damage

Signs of termite damage include the following:

  • buckling ceilings or walls

  • the appearance of water damage

  • maze-like designs in wooden structures

  • mud tunnels on home foundations

  • swarms of termites themselves

Unfortunately, these signs often indicate that you’ve had a termite problem for a while and that a colony is thriving. Advanced termite damage can greatly affect the structural integrity of your home, even causing ceilings or floors to collapse.

However, if damage does not affect your home’s structure, your family's experience at home can still be impacted by ruined carpeting, walls, furniture or flooring. Whether your termite damage is structural or aesthetic, immediate action should be taken before conditions worsen.

Can Termite Damage be Fixed?

It is rare but possible for some termite species to damage a house beyond repair, if the infestation is left untreated for many years. The most destructive termite in the U.S. is the Formosan termite, a type of subterranean termite found in the southern U.S. and in coastal areas. A large Formosan termite colony can cause significant damage to a house in approximately two years, if it is not controlled.

Other termite species would take several more years to cause the same level of damage as Formosan termites since other species have much smaller colony sizes. In fact, some drywood termite colonies are so small that it would take more than 20 years for them to cause damage so extensive that a house could not be repaired.

It is not common for termites to completely destroy a home before the activity is discovered by a homeowner. Once a colony grows to maturity, signs of activity typically become more visible. Periodic inspections by a licensed termite technician can help homeowners detect termite infestations while damage is minimal and repairs are less expensive.

Tackling the damage

How to Repair Termite Damage

Two Routes to Consider

There are two main ways to repair termite damage to wood:

  1. Replace damaged sections of wood entirely or

  2. Add a wood support adjacent to damaged wood.

In most cases, the repair will be simpler and less expensive if you add a wood support to damaged wood. This type of repair works for many structural and non-structural repairs. Repairs that involve replacing structural supports are the most complicated. It is crucial that adequate temporary support be provided to maintain the home's integrity during repairs.

Contacting several local contractors for estimates may be a good idea before repairing termite damage.

Treat for Termites Before Making Repairs

Although termite damage may be reversed through professional repair, homeowners should first call a local termite specialist. Repairs should not be made until a licensed pest professional has confirmed that there are no longer termites present and the risk of further infestation has been eliminated.

The termite inspector will be able to offer services to deal with active infestations as well as preventatives. He or she can also check to ensure all termite damage is accounted for, so you know exactly what needs to be repaired. Taking these steps will prevent further costly repairs in the future. After ensuring that your home is free of termites and risks of future infestation, existing damage should be repaired.

Prevent Costly Termite Damage Repairs

Structural failure can be prevented or is much less likely to occur with annual termite inspections and treatments. Orkin provides a two-part report, both describing present damage and also identifying areas that might make your home more susceptible to termite problems. Some places that are important to inspect include woodpiles, under plant debris, dead or dying shrubs or trees on the property, crawl spaces, siding, exterior and interior wall voids, decks, loose paneling, and areas with increased moisture. Adhering to an annual termite inspection schedule will help prevent infestation and expensive repair costs.

If you believe you’ve found termite damage in your home or just want some peace of mind, call an Orkin termite specialist for a free inspection.

Resources

Dig Deeper on Termite Damage

What Wood Will Termites Not Eat?

Termites Under House Slab

Termites in Trees

How Do Termites Get Into Your House?

Termite Attic Damage

Termite Damage in Bathroom

Termite Damage to Drywall

Termite Floor Damage

Termite Ceiling Damage

Termites in Carpets

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