Termite Foundation Damage

Termites cannot damage a foundation made of concrete, concrete block or brick. However, termites can enter a home through small cracks in the foundation – gaps as tiny as the width of a business card. In some cases, termites can enter the home through untreated hollow spaces in the blocks or bricks.

While termites cannot damage concrete foundations, they can damage nearby wood sources. Termites can cause significant damage to structural supports made of wood, especially where there is direct wood-to-ground contact. In most cases, it is best to remove wood-to-ground contact and use concrete supports below the wood.

Termites also are known to infest other easy-to-access wood near the foundation, including basement windows near the ground, floor joists in crawlspaces and wooden porches.

Subterranean Termites Under Homes

Of the types of termites found in America, subterranean termites are the most common and are responsible for the most damage to structures.

Subterranean termites live underground, foraging in soil for food. Almost any exposed wood or gap underground can allow these termites enough access to cause significant damage to a home’s foundation. Worker termites also build tunnels from mud, saliva and feces, which they use to remain protected while traveling to above-ground food sources. Subterranean swarming termites most commonly start new colonies around homes in the late spring and summer, when mating swarms are active.

Termites Foundation Damage
Termite Damage to
Wooden Beam

Subterranean Tunnels in the Foundation

termite tunnels

Will be attracted to wood under homes
Once they have located a food source, such as your home’s wooden support beams, the worker termites create mud tubes with their saliva and soil mixture to move above ground. These tubes are can be about ¼ to 1 inch around, and they keep the termites in a moisture-controlled environment so that they do not get dehydrated on their forage.

Termite Damage in Foundations

Once the subterranean termite workers have reached your foundation, the feast upon your home’s wooden components begins. The termites eat along the grain of wood, only eating the softwood. Due to their mud tunnels, many of the mazes termites created inside infested wood will have mud and soil remnants. In fact, subterranean termites even stuff the wood they are eating with soil in order to preserve its moisture.

Termites are attracted to wood because it is a cellulose material. For this reason, termites may also able to feed on other sources of cellulose, such as a thick pile of sawdust, natural fiber carpet, plants such as trees and shrubs, sheetrock backing, paper and cardboard. Sometimes termites will burrow into and excavate non-cellulose materials, such as fiberglass insulation or insulating foam board as they forage for cellulose-based sources of food.

How to Detect Infestation

Evidence of subterranean termite damage can be difficult to spot unless you know the warning signs. Mud tunnels can be found inside crawlspaces and along walls or insulation. Be on the lookout for a honeycomb pattern in wooden structures that is formed after the subterranean termites have devoured the soft wood and left the hardwood behind. Keep your eyes peeled for dead swarmers and their wings left on ledges as well.

In order to prevent extensive and costly damage to your home’s structure, a termite control barrier may be implemented. Pest control professionals may treat soil with pesticide and wooden frames with repellents. They may also use baits. Contact us to discuss foundation treatments.

More information

Sub floor damage

Termites under house slab

Termite Control

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Why should you be worried?

Termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage each year and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage.

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