Protect your home from termite damage
As Americans head outside to tend to their lawns and repair their houses, it’s just as important to consider what might be happening out of sight, deep inside the home.
Termites, which are found in every state except Alaska, live in colonies that eat continuously. These wood-destroying pests eat homes from the inside out, making their presence difficult to detect. Termites annually cause more than $5 billion in damage, and the destruction termites cause is not normally covered by homeowners insurance, leaving owners to pay an average of $3,000 in out-of-pocket costs for repairs, according to Terminix.
“In most cases, it’s easy to tell when a house is in need of repair. Either the paint is chipping or the roof is leaking. But that’s not usually the case with termite activity,” says Paul Curtis, a Terminix entomologist. “Because termites are often active in the least visible areas of a home, it can be difficult for the homeowner to tell whether they have a termite problem or not.”
Usually, homeowners will only be able to tell they have a termite infestation during swarm season. That’s when winged, reproductive termites leave their colonies and establish new ones.
A swarm can be identified by the large number of flying termites and by the discarded wings they often leave near doors and windows.
“Termites do not discriminate. They eat wooden framing, support beams and the wood flooring inside your home the same way they would a tree in the forest,” Curtis says.
While swarming only takes place during certain times of the year, termite colonies never stop eating, even to rest or sleep. Unless evidence of a swarm is discovered, or damage is severe enough to be noticed, a trained professional will most likely be required to identify the presence of termites within a home.
Although eliminating termites requires the help of a trained professional, homeowners can take the following proactive steps to make their homes less inviting to these wood-destroying pests:
• Fix the roof or plumbing leaks. The moisture from these allows termites to survive above ground.
• Clean and repair gutters. Gutters that do not drain properly can allow water to accumulate near the foundation.
• Eliminate wood-to-soil contact. Any wood that simultaneously touches the soil and the home can provide termites with direct access to the structure.
• Keep mulch or soil from being piled against the home’s siding. Soil or mulch allowed to pile up against the home can hide termite activity.
• Avoid storing items in the crawlspace. Pieces of scrap lumber, boxes or even books can serve as a food source for termites.
• Maintain adequate ventilation in crawlspaces. Termites prefer moist conditions. Eliminating moisture can help make the environment less suitable to them.
• Use a mesh screen on all windows, doors and ventilation openings. Screening will help prevent winged termites from entering the home.
• Schedule an annual inspection with a trained professional. Prompt treatment and regular inspections can save thousands of dollars in damage repair.
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