Wood Destroying Insects (WDI) Inspections

Termite Types

There are three main kinds of termites found in North America:  Formosan subterranean termites, drywood and subterranean.  Formosan  termites are found mostly along the cost.  These pests attack decaying wood and can usually be controlled by removing their moisture source, unlike drywood termites, which do not require a significant moisture supply. 

Drywood termites are often found in the southernmost parts of the continent, including Hawaii and Mexico.  They can fly directly into buildings and begin colonies in dry wood.  The use of treated wood is generally effective for controlling infestations of this type. 

Subterranean termites are the real worry and they cause the most damage to building structures.  These termites live in the soil in order to avoid being affected by extreme temperatures while maintaining access to essential moisture.  They attack any source of cellulose within foraging distance of their colony, such as dry wood.  In addition to wood, they feed on cardboard, paper and fiberboard that are in contact with or close to the ground.

Signs of Infestation


Hire a qualified and licensed inspector to inspect for termites or other wood-destroying organisms. Generally, the first sign of infestation is the presence of swarming termites on the window or near indoor light. If they are found inside the house, it almost always means that they have infested. Other signs that may be found are termite wings on window sills or in cobwebs, and shelter tubes, which are tunnels constructed by the termites from soil or wood and debris. Usually, wood damage is not found at first, but when it is found, it definitely reveals a termite infestation. Anywhere wood touches soil is a possible entry into a home for termites. Examine wood which sounds dull or hollow when struck by a screwdriver or hammer. Inspect suspected areas with a sharp, pointed tool, such as an ice pick, to find termite galleries or their damage.

Control

Control measures include reducing the potential infestation, preventing termite entry, and applying chemicals for remedial treatment.

Inspection

Inspect thoroughly to determine if there is an infestation, damage, and/or conditions that could invite a termite attack, or the need for remedial control measures. The tools and equipment needed for an inspection include a flashlight, ice pick or sharp-pointed screwdriver, ladder, and protective clothing. Always hire an InterNACHI inspector for your inspection needs, as they are trained by the highest standards in the inspection industry.

Outdoors

Check the foundation of the house, garage and other buildings for shelter tubes coming from the soil. Look closely around porches, connecting patios, sidewalks, areas near kitchens and bathrooms, and hard-to-see places. Check window and door frames, and where utility services enter the house for termite infestation or wood decay. Also, look behind shrubbery and plants near walls. Pay special attention to areas where earth and wood meet, such as fences, stair carriages and trellises. Open and check any exterior electrical meter or fuse box set into the wall, a common point of infestation.

Indoors

Carefully check all doors, window facings, baseboards, and hardwood flooring. Discoloration or stains on walls or ceilings may mean that water is leaking and can decay wood, and this can aid termite infestation. It is very important to inspect where plumbing and utility pipes enter the foundation and flooring. Also, examine the attic for shelter tubes, water leakage, and wood damage.

Prevention

Many termite problems can be prevented. The most important thing to do is to deny termites access to food (wood), moisture and shelter. Follow these suggestions:

  • have at least a 2-inch clearance between the house and planter boxes, or soil-filled porches;
eliminate all wood-to-soil contact, such as trellises, fence posts, stair casings and door facings (they can be put on masonry blocks or on treated wood);
  • separate shrubbery from the house to help make it easier to inspect the foundation line;
  • use wolmanized wood (pressure-treated wood) so that rain will not rot it;
  • seal openings through the foundation;
  • remove wood scraps and stumps from around the foundation;
have at least 12 to 18 inches of clearance between floor beams and the soil underneath.
Chemical Treatment

Termite treatment often requires specialized equipment. Therefore, it is recommended that you always use the services of a pest control operator because he is familiar with construction principles and practices, has the necessary equipment, and knows about subterranean termites

Exterminating Termites

If you think you have a termite infestation in your house, you need to call a structural pest control company to conduct a professional inspection. To find a company, check with your inspector. If the inspection finds evidence of drywood termites, you have several options, depending on the degree of infestation. Fumigation and heating of the entire house are the only options that ensure eradication in the entire structure. If the infestation is contained in a small area, local or spot control may be effective. However, hidden infestations in other parts of the structure will not be eradicated.

Getting Your Home Inspected

Even if you don't have termites, you should have your home regularly inspected. You will generally have to do one if you are selling your house, but all homeowners should think about having them done at least annually.

How Often Should I Have One?

Annually. Termites are pretty slow to infest and damage a house, but if you have recently had an infestation, you will want to get your property looked at every 3-4 months for awhile afterwards. Over 600,000 homes in the United States will be invaded by termites this year. Multiple colonies can infest the same house at the same time.

The map below shows us that East Texas in the area of the U.S. with the highest termite concentration.

 

Should I Get A Professional?

Termites are not a good idea to to deal with yourself. They are hard to kill, they often reinfest homes unless treatment is done professionally, and they can infest parts of the home that are difficult to inspect. I would not suggest relying on your own skills, no matter how much of a handyman you are.

Items The Inspector Will Look For During An Inspection:

1) Mud-looking material on wooden surfaces - This can often be hard to see, but termites will eat away at the interior of wood in your home. When it breaks or a hole is opened to the outside, they will try to patch it up. They use dirt as well as their own feces to create a substance to patch these holes, and it kind of looks like mud.

2) Wings - When termites are swarming, they fly around and ultimately shed their wings. If termites have gotten into your house or near it after a swarm, you will see big piles of wings. Wings can be near your house either because a swarm has come by, or because your house is infested and the swarm came from inside

3) Actual termites. Termites can be seen either inside the wood, in which case they usually look yellow or white, or outside as swarmers, in which case they look like flying ants. If your house constantly has swarms of termites near it, it is likely that you or someone nearby has a colony.

4) Termite tubes. Subterranean termites, which are the kind that cause the vast majority of damage to homes, don't just live in wood like people think. What they do is burrow underground, like ants, where they get moisture they need to survive. They build their colony next to a source of wood for food, and then burrow from the earth into the wood, going back and forth between each. To connect these earth and wood burrows, they build termite tubes - little tunnels of earth running along your house that let them run back and forth between the two.

5) Sawdust. If you see powder that looks kind of like sawdust around your home, that is a common sign of wood destroying insects.

6) Paint bubbles. If the paint is on a wood surface, you may see little bubbles in it from the termites eating the wood underneath.

7) Check moist, dark areas. If you want to inspect your home for termites, you can't just wander around the outside of it. Termites want a place where they can get both moisture and food. Look in any crawl spaces or areas under your house, any attics, your basement, any place you have in your house where you can see plumbing or pipes, cabinets, and any place where you can see the foundation.

8) Tap at wood with a hammer or blunt object. If it makes a hollow sound, there could be termites there. Check especially structural wood that should not be hollow (i.e., it's pointless to do this to your walls).

9) Pick at wood with a penknife in various places. If there are termites just under the surface, it will come apart instead of resisting it.

Termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year. They primarily feed on wood, but also damage paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems. While buildings may become infested at any time, termites are of particular importance when buying or selling a home since a termite inspection report is normally a condition of sale. Besides the monetary impact, thousands of winged termites emerging inside one's home are an emotionally trying experience — not to mention the thought of termites silently feasting on one of your largest investments.

Infestations Are Often Discovered During March - May

Spring typically is when large numbers of winged termites, known as "swarmers," emerge inside homes. In nature, termites swarm to disperse and start new colonies. Triggered by warmer temperatures and rainfall, the winged termites emerge from the colony and fly into the air.

The swarmers then drop to the ground, shed their wings, pair off with a mate, and attempt to begin new colonies in the soil. Few swarmers emerging outdoors survive to start new colonies. Swarmers emerging indoors are incapable of eating wood, seldom survive, and are best removed with a vacuum. They do, however, indicate that an infestation is present.


How Will I Know If My Home Is Infested?

Discovering winged termites indoors almost always indicates an infestation warranting treatment. People often confuse winged termites with ants, which often swarm at the same time of year. Termites can be differentiated by their straight antennae, uniform waist and wings of equal size. (Ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waists and forewings that are longer than the hind wings.)

The swarmers are attracted to light and are often seen around windows and doors.

Other signs of infestation are earthen (mud) tubes extending over foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists, etc. The mud tubes are typically about the diameter of a pencil, but sometimes can be thicker. If a tube happens to be vacant, it does not necessarily mean that the infestation is inactive; termites often abandon sections of tube while foraging elsewhere in the structure.

Termite-damaged wood is usually hollowed out along the grain, with bits of dried mud or soil lining the feeding galleries. Wood damaged by moisture or other types of insects (e.g., carpenter ants) will not have this appearance. Occasionally termites bore tiny holes through plaster or drywall, accompanied by bits of soil around the margin. Rippled or sunken traces behind wall coverings can also be indicative of termites tunneling underneath.

Oftentimes there will be no visible indication that the home is infested. Termites are cryptic creatures and infestations can go undetected for years, hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and other obstructions. Termite feeding and damage can even progress undetected in wood that is exposed because the outer surface is usually left intact. Confirmation of infestation often requires the keen eye of an experienced termite inspector. However, even the most experienced inspector can overlook infestation or damage which is hidden.

The swarmers then drop to the ground, shed their wings, pair off with a mate, and attempt to begin new colonies in the soil. Few swarmers emerging outdoors survive to start new colonies. Swarmers emerging indoors are incapable of eating wood, seldom survive, and are best removed with a vacuum. They do, however, indicate that an infestation is present.

CA559902 and TPCL10739