Key Points to Protect
Termites can damage a number of structural components in a house, including the following:
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.
Treating the Damage
Discovering damage at your home is an unsettling experience, but a trusted pest control professional can help.
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 Pro 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:
Replace damaged sections of wood entirely or
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.