May 31, 2018
How to recognize signs of termite damage — and what to do next.
Termites are no stranger to Northern Virginia and the warm, humid, rainy weather we experience throughout the year provides the ideal environment for termite infestations.
The most common termite in the region — the Eastern subterranean termite — travels back and forth through the soil by building tunnel systems to reach food sources above the ground. Firewood, mulch, the foundation of a wood structure are all nice meals for a voracious colony of Eastern subterranean termites.
Termites are seriously destructive insects. Termites, when left untreated or improperly exterminated, cause expensive and dangerous structural damage to your home. If you have a termite infestation, you need a professional on the premises as soon as possible.
Let’s explore some of the ways homeowners can prevent termite activity, the signs of termite damage, and what homeowners can do to eliminate these pests.
Prevent termites from invading your home
The easiest and most cost-efficient way to deal with a termite infestation is to take the necessary steps to prevent entry in the first place.
The key to termite prevention is the elimination of excess moisture in and around your home, since termites are drawn towards moisture.
Here are some of the ways homeowners can prevent termite damage:
- Store firewood off the ground and away from the home.
- Encapsulate your crawl space with plastic to protect the home’s foundation from exposed soil.
- Keep direct moisture and mulch away from the foundation.
- Fix leaky faucets or pipes.
- Replace or repair broken roof tiles.
- Seal off external cracks in the foundation.
- Toss unused cardboard boxes and newspaper from basements, attics, and garages.
- Use a dehumidifier.
- Schedule a booster treatment — a quick, easy inspection to make sure that you do not have signs of a termite infestation and that all entry points have been locked down.
Common signs of termite damage
Termites are responsible for approximately $1–2 billion in property damage
every year, most of which isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. Termites can cause costly damage to your floors, support beams, ceiling joists, and even sheetrock.
Look out for these common signs of termite damage to stop an infestation in its tracks:
Sagging floors. If your floors feel springy or sag in certain places, it’s possible termites have made their way beneath your flooring. Have a professional pull back sections of your flooring to check for termite activity.
Cracks in walls or bubbling paint. When moisture gets between the surface of your walls and the layer of paint, the paint will crack and peel away from the wall. Moisture between your walls and the paint indicates potential termite activity.
Hollow wood. As termites burrow through wood, they create tunnels that, over time, hollow out the inside of the wood. One way to check for termite damage is to tap or knock on wood beams or furniture. If the wood sounds hollow, there’s a good chance you have a termite problem on your hands.
Windows or doors that get stuck easily. Tunneling caused by termites in window and door frames can actually warp their shape, which makes those windows and doors difficult to open.
Mud tubes on exterior walls. Termites, specifically subterranean termites, need moisture to survive. As the termites make their way into your home from underground, they construct moisture-rich mud tubes along the exterior of your home that allow them to easily travel from the outdoors to your home’s foundation. These tubes serve as protection for termites and are commonly found near the foundations of your home. The more mud tubes you find on exterior walls, the more severe the infestation may be.
Termite noises and wood excavation. In cases of extreme infestation, you may even be able to hear the termites as they burrow through structures of your home.
Soldier termites tap their heads against the wood they’re excavating to signal the rest of the colony where to find the food supply.
Leave it to the experts
Discovering termite damage in your home can be stressful. While it is important to deal with a termite infestation as quickly as possible, it also needs to be handled correctly.
Don’t try to take care of the problem with a store bought product or a DIY home remedy — while you may think these solutions can help save you money, you’ll end up paying in the long run.
Improper treatment can be dangerous to children and pets and cannot effectively eliminate an infestation deep within the structure of your home, leading to more damage as the infestation spreads.
Our Northern Virginia pest control specialists are highly trained and armed with the latest technologies and products to properly treat your house.
“Just as every house is different, so are termites,” Gene Daniels, the pest control service manager at our Fairfax, Virginia location explains. “That’s why we use liquid, foam, baiting, and even green methods of protection. It gives us flexibility to treat each infestation the right way.”
You don't want to gamble with the safety and value of your biggest investment. If you recognize signs of termite damage in your home, you need to contact a professional as soon as possible.