Termite Foundation Damage
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 in the Foundation
Subterranean termites build nests underground due to their need for moisture and cool temperatures. They create tunnels through the soil to locate food sources, and their foraging can span up to a half of an acre—about 260 feet in distance. Any gaps or cracks in the foundation can provide access underneath your home, plus exposed wood may attract subterranean termites to the foundation.
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.
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Termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage each year and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage.
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