Would termites bore through plastic, Yahoo Answers

Would termites bore through plastic?

Does anyone know if termites would bore through plastic? My window has a bunch of holes in it that look like termite tracks, but it is on the plastic part of the window. Any ideas??

3 Answers

Termites often chew through softer plastics. They play havoc with buried cables and sometimes hole water pipes causing service interruptions and major damage.

A window is something else. Mostly they’ll chew plastics that are buried or hidden away. Sometimes they’ll eat through plastics that are up against wood their partying in at the time but they don’t often wander out into the open and start such a major chewing job. My guess is that it is something else.

Probably best to get a pest inspector around, there are likely to be other, really subtle, clues that will help tell the story.

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Yep, they won’t eat the plastic but they will bore through it to find additional cellulose.

«Subterranean termites feed exclusively on wood and wood products containing cellulose. Termites have protozoa (microorganisms) in their intestines which provide enzymes to digest cellulose. Although termites are soft-bodied insects, their hard, saw-toothed jaws work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, a piece at a time. Termites often infest buildings and cause damage to lumber, wood panels, flooring, sheetrock, wallpaper, plastics, paper products, and fabric made of plant fibers. Their most serious damage is in the loss of building structural strength. Other costly losses include attacks on flooring, carpeting, art work, books, clothing, furniture and valuable papers. Subterranean termites feed on dead parts of trees but are not known to attack live trees.


Can termites bore through water pipes?

My parents are buying an 18 year old home which appears to be in overall very good condition. Howver, there were active termites found in 2013 and 2014, both times in an interior closet. Of course they’re going to have a termite inspection early next week, but we were curious — could there be termite activity in an interior closet without termite activity on exterior walls leading into that area? How else would termites get into the interior of the house?

Welcome to the world of Texas and Texas building! First yes you can potentially have termites entering on the interior of the home without accessing via an exterior wall. Many times when homes are built the builder fails to seal off the boxed out area of the slab where a bathtub or shower trap was located. These are typically recessed into the slab and during the pour the area around the trap is boxed out to prevent concrete from being poured around the plumbing trap. Once the plumbing is finalized, and before they seal off around the tub or shower, they should seal off the boxed out area and many times don’t. That’s a prime entry point for subterranean termites as well as ants or other vermin and insects. Another potential entry point is around any utility piping or conduit that comes through the slab such as a washing machine drain line that enters the slab and goes to a drain line below it. Termites and other pests do not require much of an opening and what we see sometimes in new construction is improper wrapping of pipes and conduits running through slabs. Just last week I had one new home inspected where the builder used old carpet padding as a wrap around a drain pipe coming up through the slab, and it was not even sealed around at the top. The old carpet padding will be breached by pests and when it deteriorates will also leave a nice large opening for entry. If you have an access panel in that area I would make sure your Inspector opens it and checks in there for signs of termite and other pest entry.

Imagine the house as a square — the back door as well as the master bedroom and this particular closet (off the laundry room) are all in the upper right hand quadrant of the «square.» The back door is also «sticking» significantly. There is no sign of any cracks or any interior doors sticking, etc like you’d look for to indicate slab foundation issues. But this has me wondering if there’s a foundation issue and termites may be working their way up through a crack in that quadrant somewhere. Maybe I’m over thinking this!

Yes this is another potential entry point for termites and other pests. Unfortunately without pulling up floor covering you might not know if any entry has occurred here.

Inspection as well as termite inspection are both lined up for early next week. I will be there (my parents live out of state). I would appreciate any suggestions on what to ask and look for. Thank you!

Your pest Inspector and Home Inspector should not need any prompting on what to look for. Make sure that you express your concerns and have them explain what they found and what/where they could not look and why. Neither the pest Inspector or Home Inspector can use destructive inspection techniques, i.e. removing any surface treatments, drywall, etc., so do expect that they will both most likely tell you they can not see into the walls. One thing I would highly recommend as we do run into this often is to be wary of any access panel or point that has been painted or caulked shut. I would recommend that you have your Agent contact the seller and have the seller cut any caulk or paint seals around any access panel or point to make sure both the pest Inspector and Home Inspector have free access to them and can remove them. Neither will typically cut these seals or attempt to remove them as it can damage the surface finish.

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(PS — we’re hoping this turns out well because overall, the house is LOVELY and the neighborhood is fantastic — but we don’t want to turn a blind eye to any serious problems. My parents are cash buyers by the way, so no lender is going to be requiring any sort of treatment on anything.)

Here’s the thing. The house has been treated for termites IN THE VERY SAME SPOT in 2012, 2013, and 2014. This spot is an interior closet in the laundry room (the master bath backs up to this, so there’s lots of plumbing in this area). I just think it’s weird that in spite of the treatment, the subterranean termites come back within a year.

Recurring treatments are not necessarily a sign that termites have returned. The owner might have contracted for or decided to have routine treatments to help ensure they do not return.

Inspection is Tuesday. I’m very curious about what the guy has to say.


Some Termites Can Eat Through Plastic Pipes And Billiard Balls

Some Termites Can Eat Through Plastic Pipes And Billiard Balls

Termites are eusocial insects like bees, ants and wasps. But termites have an advantage over all these insects, as some species can chew through just about anything. Obviously a timber-framed home is not safe from the eating habits of termites, but termites can even chew through objects that they cannot digest. You would be surprised to learn how many materials can become destroyed by a termites mouthparts. For example, Formosan termites can eat through PVC pipes. PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. These are the white drainage pipes that you have probably seen before. PVC pipes have mostly replaced metal piping since they are easier and cheaper to install. PVC can also be made into other plastic mechanisms. PVC is also used to cover cables and wiring. In Europe twenty five percent of all cable insulation is made from PVC. It is surprising that such a durable plastic material cannot withstand termite activity.

Termites secrete formic acid, which destroys the wiring within plastic pipes. And it’s not just termites that secrete formic acid. Ants, beetles and wasps are just a few other insects that secrete this corrosive acid as well. However, Formosan subterranean termites are often the most damaging of all these insects since they dwell beneath the ground’s surface for much of their lives. This makes a termites chances of encountering PVC pipes likely. Also, a termite’s body is made up of a relatively high amount of formic acid, which is around three percent of their body weight. The billions of dollars in property damage caused by termites each year is not just inflicted on wood.

Of course, termites cannot digest plastic, but Formosan subterranean termites will easily penetrate PVC plastic if it means reaching food. Not only have Formosan termites broken underground plastic water pipes, causing shut-downs in water service, but they have also destroyed electrical wires within PVC pipes, resulting in power outages. Termites have even been known for chewing billiard balls, ivory and even lead.

Have you ever heard the sound of feeding termites behind the walls of your home before or after you realized you had a termite infestation?


Do termites tunnel through concrete/mortar/cement/cinder blocks etc.?

Termites will put a lot of effort into breaking through something that stands between them and the food or water they desire. Just so long as the prize justifies the effort required, they will appear as if to move mountains. Plaster (drywall etc.) is no barrier to termites. Most mortars slow them down, but lime mortars are readily penetrable. Termites will not usually do any damage to quality mortars with a high cement content, but beware of gaps and shrinkage cracks. Good quality concrete cannot be excavated by termites BUT cracks in poor concrete may be opened with ease. Autoclaved aerated concrete (those lightweight bubbly blocks) were readily penetrated in my field tests. Concrete (cinder) blocks sometimes have gaps in them big enough to interest termites (also observed in my field trials). Masonry is often built with lots of continuous gaps that termites can simply walk through, especially with extruded, hollow-core bricks.

Mud-brick (adobe) can be penetrated but there is most risk between the blocks and at cracks, penetrations and against timber framing.

In general, termites won’t damage concrete if they can’t pull out the sand (and small aggregate) particles. If the cement has been properly proportioned and the mix allowed to cure, then the particles tend to be well bound and termites are adequately deterred.

Termites can walk through cracks in concrete. The cracks need to be uniformly about 10% wider than the termites’ head. Concrete that is properly placed, cured and is reinforced (‘rebar’) generally won’t crack wide enough to be at risk. A properly designed and constructed concrete slab can be a building’s main defence against subterranean termites.

Sometimes concrete has big pockets of air (because it was not properly settled), has wooden levelling pegs left in (termite highways) or has been damaged by expanding bolts or following trades cutting to add services. Easy termite paths are commonly found where floor slabs have cut-outs for baths or showers or where there are pipes or conduits passing through from the ground.


Directional Drilling Used for PVC Pipe Installation

The City of Fort Wayne, IN, recently used directional drilling to replace an 11,000-foot corroded cast iron water main with PVC pipe.

The City of Fort Wayne, IN, recently used directional drilling to replace an 11,000-foot corroded cast iron water main with PVC pipe.

Installed in the 1930s in Fort Wayne’s Belmont Addition neighborhood, the original water main demanded several corrosion-related repairs over the years, partially caused by the region’s soil. This corrosion has led the city to replace many other cast iron water mains in recent years with corrosion-resistant thermoplastic pipe materials, such as PVC and HDPE.

The C900/RJ PVC product uses a high-strength spline to connect pipe lengths and hold the pipe together during installation and pressurization, while elastomeric O-rings provide a pressure seal. Click here to enlarge image

Since the Belmont Addition is a well-populated residential area (approximately 200 homes) with a busy street passing through it, the city and contractor S&S Directional Boring Ltd., of Bryan, OH, decided that installing a new water main using restrained-joint PVC pipe, via directional drilling, would be the best way to get the job done with minimal disturbances. With this in mind, they specified 6-inch CertainTeed® Certa-Lok™ C900/RJ restrained-joint PVC pipe for the project.

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“Directional drilling has proven itself to us over the years as the most cost-effective method of replacing water and sewer mains in busy or congested areas, but this is one of the first times we have used PVC pipe for a directional drilling project,” said Matthew Wirtz, Assistant Manager of Planning and Design for the City of Fort Wayne. “Since the project was taking place in a residential area, we wanted to avoid having several hundred feet of fused pipe strung out for several days. The fact that the Certa-Lok pipe is assembled as it goes into the boreholes was a huge advantage.”

The C900/RJ PVC product is suited for both water and wastewater applications. Its joining system, which uses a high-strength spline to connect pipe lengths, holds the pipe together during installation and pressurization, while elastomeric O-rings provide a dependable pressure seal.

“Certa-Lok has many qualities that appeal to contractors, but its leak resistance and quick assembly without the need for time-consuming and expensive joint fusion are what really stand out amongst the competition,” said Steve Gross, Director of Marketing for CertainTeed’s Pipe Business. “And, compared to HDPE pipe, Certa-Lok requires a much thinner wall for an equivalent pressure rating, which significantly cuts material, drilling and operating costs and makes Certa-Lok an ideal product for municipalities like Fort Wayne.”

S&S Directional Boring began drilling last September, with a crew that ranged from eight to 12 workers. After overcoming difficulties drilling through the extra-hard clay, the pipe installation continued smoothly. The crew completed the project in April, and received good reviews from the City of Fort Wayne.

Interceptor Project to Feature use of Trenchless Technologies

Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD) has begun construction on a new interceptor pipeline to connect the gravity flow collection system of Concord, CA, with an existing 102-inch interceptor operated by CCCSD. Carollo Engineers will help plan and design the project, which will feature use of sophisticated trenchless technology to counter geographic challenges.

Along with construction of an open-cut sewer line that crosses under live stream flow in Walnut Creek, the project includes tunneling two sizeable sewer pipes (96- and 72-inch diameters) to depths of more than 30 feet. Because the project’s path runs directly through a highly developed, high-traffic urban area, Carollo implemented an action plan that integrates extensive trenchless design elements to resolve numerous concerns of the city, business owners and the general public.

Carollo engineered customized solutions for each of the site-specific challenges, especially where trenchless elements were deployed, including:

  • Implementing a settlement monitoring plan to address settlement in areas of shallow earth cover.
  • Deploying an Earth-Pressure Balanced Machine (EPBM) to address ground subsidence and tunneling under groundwater pressure.
  • Obtaining regulatory approval for the complicated sequencing of an open-cut sewer pipe crossing beneath Walnut Creek.
  • Devising underground structures, including a flow metering structure and junction structures along the length of the pipe, to advance the overall tunneling approach.

“This project was complicated not only by various terrain issues and soil conditions, but also by the large number of stakeholders impacted by construction,” said Alex Rozul, Project Manager for CCCSD.

Heavily traveled city streets in the construction area service a number of local businesses, including big-box home stores and government offices. Existing interceptor sewers, storm drains, and fiber optic cables also present challenges.

Early on, when it became apparent that the depth and magnitude of shoring required for open-cut construction in the urban areas would be too disruptive, Carollo chose trenchless strategies, such as tunneling and microtunneling, as the lowest-cost, most effective option.


Can termites bore through water pipes?

Can termites eat their way through concrete blocks and mortar?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Termites only eat cellulose-containing materials like wood and paper; but they have been known to tunnel through softer materials, like thin plastic, to get at the cellulose. Lime mortar that was once used to lay brick for older homes is another material soft enough that they sometimes are able to bore through it.

Solid concrete blocks and mortar are not penetrable, but any gaps in the mortar can provide a route to the other side where the good stuff is. Two worker termites can fit easily on the head of a match, so even a crack like the one shown at the top of the page is enough for them to squeeze through.

Also, termites can easily crawl unnoticed up into the wood wall framing of a house behind behind any brick or manufactured stone facing that extends to the ground, like in the photo below.

The first sign that subterranean termites have a found a way into your house is usually seen at the baseboard of an exterior wall. Because they eat right up to the paint finish, but not through it, tapping or lightly probing the wood for soft spots may turn up evidence, like in the photo below, that it’s time to call a pest control company.

For more on this, along with other termite legends, some of which are even true, go to our blog post Do termites eat concrete?

To learn more about termites, see these other blog posts:

• Is the WDO (termite) inspector allowed to poke holes in my wood siding and trim?

• How long before closing can you have a WDO (termite) inspection done?

• Are homes in Florida required to have termite protection?

• Does a recent termite company inspection sticker mean there are no termites?

• What is a termite shield?

• I think I have termites. What does a termite look like?

Visit our TERMITES, WOOD ROT AND PESTS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen’s home inspection blog for buyers of

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes


Protecting PVC from critters!

PVC has been used extensively in a wide range of construction products for over half a century. PVC’s strong, lightweight, durable and versatile characteristics make it ideal for an ample range of applications. PVC has a versatility that helps it meet the various needs of modern architecture. PVC was first used as cable insulation as a replacement for rubber during the Second World War, but has now become the superior material through its flexibility, ease of handling in installation and inherent flame retardation. PVC cables do not harden and crack over time and find use in many applications from telecommunications to electric blankets. In Europe, about 25% of all flexible PVC is used in the production of wire and cables for the electrical industries.

As resistant as PVC is to abrasion and corrosion, there is one thing that PVC has absolutely no resistance against-pests! Insects such as ants and termites have been long-standing enemies of PVC who damage and eventually destroy the articles. A number of insects including termites, like beetles, ants, wasps etc secrete formic acid that has the ability to dissolve the insulation of wires thereby destroying them. About 3% of the body weight of termites is made up of formic acid. Termites cause over $2 billion every year in property damage. And that’s not all wood! Termites do not eat plastic; however, the aggressive Formosan termite is known to attack plastic in search of food. Termites often chew through softer plastics. They play havoc with buried cables and sometimes bore a hole through water pipes causing service interruptions and major damage. Tunneling can lead to damage to electrical cords and cause blackouts.

Besides termites, the other species that cause major damage to PVC articles are ants. Ants going about their daily routine grow increasingly frustrated with the presence of underground optical cables and other telecommunications equipment including lawn pedestals and terminating boxes and thereby become a growing problem for telecom companies that can blame local outages on their activities. There have been a lot of incidences where outages have been directly attributed to insect activity. Material brought into the colony can overheat equipment when it blocks air vents, increased moisture from the insects can corrode or compromise sensitive electronics, and insect attempts to push PVC wiring out of the way can ruin optical cables.

Below is an article that sheds some light on the damage caused by these critters on PVC wires and cables.

‘Crazy’ Ants, New Invasive Species, Destroys Electric Wiring, Unfazed By Conventional Pesticides

Posted: 06/10/2013

If you thought fire ants were bad, just wait until you get a load of “crazy” ants.

Yes, crazy ants, a species of South American ant whose colony movements are so erratic that researchers could only evoke insanity when describing them.

Also known as raspberry or tawny crazy ants, the insects have spread to Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi since first being spotted in Houston, Texas, in 2002. They “have a taste for everything from livestock to electrical equipment,” according to ABC News. They have been known to infest homes, transformers and even electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones.

Unlike its cousin the fire ant (also called the red ant), which it has displaced in several locations, the crazy ant is highly invasive. Moving into competitive territory, crazy ants aggressively compete for other species’ resources and establish dominance. Poison bait that works on fire ants is ineffective on crazy ants because the insects won’t take it.

“When you talk to folks who live in the invaded areas, they tell you they want their fire ants back,” Ed LeBrun, an invasive species researcher at the University of Texas, said in a UT Austin College of Natural Sciences video. “Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound.”

LeBrun, co-author of a recent study on how crazy ants have displaced fire ants in Texas’ ecosystems, explained that the insects’ opportunistic nesting habits are a key factor in their biological dominance. That dominance could mean drastic changes to an ecosystem that’s adjusted to the presence of fire ants — also an invasive species — over the past 40 years.

While they are omnivorous, the ants do not actually “feast on” electrical equipment, as has been suggested. The ants damage electronics by “forming bridges between the electrical contacts” and shorting them out, LeBrun pointed out.

Though the crazy ant threat to electronics has not been lost on the tech media, the insects are probably more a threat to your air conditioner than they are to your iPhone. As CNET notes, “You might want to think twice about leaving your laptop outside in crazy ant territory, but the ants are more likely to get into fixed equipment, house wiring and even recreational vehicles.”

Although these pests have been a source of great concern and annoyance, killing them using poisons or traps somehow seems ethically wrong, not to mention unsafe and toxic. Thus we need to find a way to protect our wires and pipes from the action of these critters, without causing any harm to them or the environment. PVC has been under attack by the action of insects for decades; however we are no closer to finding a solution for this problem than we were hundreds of years ago-until recently. C Tech Corporation provides an exceptional solution for this dilemma!

C Tech Corporation offers a solution called Termirepel™ which is a non-toxic, non-hazardous additive that helps us keep insects at bay without causing any harm to the insect or any other species that consumes or comes in contact with it. It is a broad spectrum additive that works against more than 500 species of insects! It is an eco-friendly product that can be safely incorporated in polymers or coated on surfaces to repel insects and other animals without killing them. Termirepel™ is available in masterbatch and lacquer form, or as a liquid solution. This product can be safely incorporated into the PVC insulation of wires and cables to keep pesky critters from damaging them!


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