How Termites Can Ruin The Sale of Your Home
Selling or buying a home is not extremely difficult, but like anything, there are always obstacles that could present themselves. Today we want to talk about TERMITES and how these pesky tiny creatures can wreak havoc on your home. Whether you are selling or buying a home, we are going to walk you through how to spot termites and what you can do to prevent them from ruining the sale of your home.
How Do You Know You Have Termites and What to Look for?
Termites are not always visible when they infest a home. In fact, both subterranean and drywood termites prefer to build colonies that hide termites from view. To be sure whether or not termites have infested your home, having a professional termite inspector take a look is your best option. However, here are a few key indicators that can help you identify if it’s time to call the termite inspector courtesy of our friends at Arizona Termite Specialists.
1. Mud tunnels: Subterranean termites utilize mud tunnels to get from the base of their colony (which is usually buried in the ground) to their food source (which may be the wood structure of your home). These mud tunnels will look like dirt tubes that are about the same size as a pencil in diameter. Subterranean termites rely on these tunnels to retain moisture as they travel to and from the core of the colony — they can’t survive when exposed to dry air for long.
2. Shed Wings: If you notice that there are dozens of wings laying around, then a colony of termites just settled in your home. When colonies split, a group of colonist termites will grow wings and fly to a new location to populate a new colony. It’s best to treat for termites right away before they become a risk for your home.
3. Termite Droppings: Termites produce droppings which they force through small holes in their tunnel structures. You may notice a tiny hole in a piece of lumber and a small stack of pellets piling up underneath that hole. That’s a tell-tale sign that you have termites running through your home.
4. Blistered Laminate Flooring: If you have laminate flooring that covers a wood sub-surface, termites could cause the flooring to blister. Since the termites will only consume the wood, not the laminate, they can create tunnels underneath laminate flooring, leaving a blistered empty space that usually squeaks when you step on it.
5. Bending, Sagging or Breaking Wood Structures: If you have severe termite damage, your wood may bend, sag, or break altogether. Termites can consume enough wood to cause structural damage to a home, which is why they’re such a nuisance. If you notice that your floors are sagging, or they’re more flexible than they ought to be when you walk across the surface, termites may be tunneling through your floor joists.
How Common are Termites and Why Do They Happen?
Statewide, there are an estimated 3 to 5 termite colonies per acre of land. Some areas can show 8 to 12 colonies per acre. With each colony containing between 300,000 to 400,000 termites.
Termites are blind; they move through the soil and bump into the home. High moisture areas and soft soil are more likely to show termite activity. When your home is built, it is pretreated to protect for termites. Eventually, the products used ware away and need to be put back down. The life span of most products is 3 to 7 years.
They slow down in May and June when the ground hardens. Then, thanks to monsoon storms, August through November is their peak season. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, subterranean termites cost America $3 billion to $4 billion annually for repairs and termite control causing more damage worldwide then fires and floods combined. (Click to read full AZ Central Article)
Subterranean termites live underground, only exposing themselves during their swarming season. These termites are blind and on their constant search for food, they inevitably bump into our homes. When they tunnel up the foundation of our homes they build a shelter tube to protect themselves from weather and other insects. This mud tube is a main indicator that your home has been infested with termites. Subterranean termites consume wood and take it back to the colony; they must re-enter the soil within a 24-hour period. They are not able to live and stay within the walls.
Drywood termites are also a problem in Arizona. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites live within the wood itself. They do not need to contact the soil to gain moisture to survive, instead they target wood with high moisture content. This type of termite is found in the older historic parts of our state. Large oak trees or flood irrigation properties tend to have this type of termite. If a home is heavily infested, this is when you may need to fumigate the entire house. The drywood termite is bigger than the subterranean termite but it lacks in colony size.
Can You Do Anything to Prevent Termites?
There are a few steps you can take to ensure that your property doesn’t become a target for these pests. You can invest in a termite control treatment that will keep subterranean termites at bay, and you can clean up your property to keep sources of food and water scarce or inaccessible.
1. Keep loose wood (like lumber, firewood, or construction materials) off your property or stored somewhere that isn’t near residences.
2. You can also try to keep your property relatively dry (since these termites thrive in moist environments) and do your utmost to get rid of standing water (which can attract a new drywood termite colony).
3. Arizona Termite Specialist also suggests using Termidor HE applications. This specialized chemical is ideal for treating the soil around your property, and it will fend off any subterranean termites that are in the area. Since this species of termite is reliant on the soil around your property for building a colony (they use mud tunnels to build their habitat), a Termidor treatment can suppress termites that are making their way onto your premises.
Termidor works like this: The chemical is injected into the soil around your home, effectively making a perimeter of protection. Any termites that come into contact with Termidor will carry the chemical with them and spread it throughout the colony. After some time, termites who encounter Termidor will end up wiping out all nearby termites in their colony, including the queen and it remains effective in the ground for years on end, it will maintain an effective perimeter of control, so that you can rest assured your property won’t become a target for this termite species.
4. Schedule Regular Termite Inspections. If you haven’t had a termite inspection performed in a couple of years, you are overdue to have a professional take a look around. Termites are particularly sly, and they often go unnoticed for years on end (which can result in thousands of dollars’ worth of damage!). Both drywood and subterranean termites alike prefer to remain within the structures of their colonies throughout their lifetimes, which means that you won’t see them crawling around your property (like ants). Instead, these termites remain within their mud structures or the wood of your property, and you might not notice an infestation until it’s too late.
What To Expect During The Termite Inspections
A quality termite inspection is the most important aspect of ongoing termite protection. When you hire a company to give you an estimate for service make sure they cover these issues
Never rely on a company giving you a firm price over the phone. Every home is different and must be inspected to find all evidence of termite activity.
Make sure they inspect the exterior and interior of your home. Only inspecting the exterior can lead to a missed interior area of termites, creating ongoing problems and frustrations. A high-quality inspection should include inspecting the perimeter of the home and all interior walls, closets, under bathtubs and sinks.
A high-quality flashlight is a must, so inspectors can spot little pin holes from subterranean termites. When a termite is in the wall it can pop through the wall and patch that hole with mud. This hole, about the size of a thumbtack hole, can easily be missed by an untrained eye. We have inspected thousands of homes and most of the time we find areas that other companies have missed.
What is a Wood-Destroying Insect Inspection Report?
A Wood-Destroying Insect Inspection Report (WDIIR) is a document prepared only by a licensed pest control business that informs a lending institution and a buyer about termite damage or presence. As a protective measure, banks and lending institutions often require that homes be inspected for damage from termites or other wood-destroying insects before closing the sale of the home. (Click here for more detailed information on this form from the AZDA)