Termite infestations can compromise the structural stability of a home and cause thousands of dollars in damage, without anyone even knowing. It’s recommended that you have your house get a thorough termite inspection by a licensed termite control professional every one to three years to keep the property safe from termites.
However, there are subtle signs of termites. These are some red flags signaling the presence of termites that homeowners can keep an eye out for on a regular basis.
To help keep the damage to a minimum, it’s crucial to catch the warning signs as soon as possible.
How to inspect for termite activity
You will need a good flashlight, screwdriver or pocket knife, and coveralls. Look at possible trouble spots closely. Often this means crawling in crawl spaces. The presence of swarmers or their shed wings almost always indicates termite activity. A complete DIY termite inspection would mean locating exposed shelter tubes and damaged wood.
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Termite damage may be located by probing wood with a screwdriver, ice pick, or knife. Termite inspection should be concerned with the exterior and interior surfaces of the foundation, particularly construction where wood is on or near the soil.
Start termite inspection in the basement and use a bright flashlight. Look for mud tubes and the activity of swarmers.
Here are the top signs of termite infestation to look out for in your home
You’ll see swarmers or discarded wings if there’s a termite infestation in your home.
Swarmers, also known as reproductives, are young female and male winged termites. They leave their nest to establish a new colony. Swarming occurs when a colony reaches a certain size.
In the springtime, after the last freeze, termite swarmers will emerge from their nest to mate and search for a new location to start a colony, which typically includes our homes. As such, termite swarmers, or their discarded wings near window sills and doors, are often the first (and only outwardly visible) sign of a termite problem.
Most swarmers emerge during the day, most frequently on warm days after the rain. Swarmers found outdoors near tree stumps, railroad ties, and etc. are not an indication that your house is infested but are present on the outside only.
On the other hand, finding swarmers indoors often means that you have a termite infestation within your house. “Flying ants,” especially near light sources indicate that a nest may be nearby.
Subterranean termites create mud tubes to get to food sources in your property.
Subterranean termites are the most destructive termite species. They maintain their headquarters in the ground and build mud tubes that are pencil-size to connect the nest (moisture) to the food source (wood). Mud tubes are most often found near the home’s foundation.
Termites may excavate the wood, so that only a very thin layer of wood is left on the surface of the cavity and the outside. This layer is broken, and they will cover the holes with mud like material, used to make the tubes. This is a mixture of soil, feces, and saliva.
Mud tubes or shelter tubes are proof of termite infestation, but their absence does not necessarily mean that a structure is free of termites. The insects may reach sills and other wood members through cracks or voids in the foundation wall or from earth-filled porches, steps, terraces, or patios.
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You can break open tubes to determine if termites are still active inside. Termites often rebuild damaged tubes – another indication of continued activity. Old tubes are dry and will crumble easily.
You’ll see signs of wood damage and/or bubbling paint.
Termites tend to eat wood from the inside out, so wood that sounds hollow when tapped often signifies a termite infestation. Termite damaged wood resonates with a dull thud (hollow sound) when tapped with a hammer. Pick and probe the surface of an infested piece of wood with a pen knife and you will find tunnels running parallel to the wood’s grain.
You should also look for blistering pieces of wood. Wood may appear crushed at structural bearing points.
Uneven or bubbling paint and tiny holes on the wood are also often a sign of moisture build up, which could mean one of two things – water damage or then again, termites.
Finding these signs in a structure does not mean you have an immediate emergency because comparatively speaking, the rate at which damage occurs is relatively slow.
You’ll see droppings or Drywood termite frass.
As they eat through infested wood, Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings that look like sawdust. If you find a small pile of what looks like pellets inside or outside the home, it could be a sign of drywood termite infestation.
What should you do when you see signs of a termite infestation?
Remember, these signs may only become visible after termites have been present for months or even years. For effective termite control, consult our termite control professionals. Our experts are trained to spot even the most inconspicuous signs of termite activity, potentially saving you from thousands of dollars in home repair.