Termites and Structural Property Damage

Termites and Structural Property Damage

Termites. They’re as small as ants, but when they work together, they cause more than $5 billion in damage in the U.S. each year, according to the National Pest Management Association. Talk about efficient! Even worse, homeowner insurance policies don’t typically cover termite damage, so an infestation or damage to your home can be devastating if not caught in time. And because most termites do all their dirty work out of view, it can be difficult to spot the warning signs. What kind of mayhem do these nasty little critters cause, and how do you spot the signs?

Termites don’t just cause cosmetic damage. They eat into the very structure of your home — the support beams, floor joists, posts, ceiling joists and wall studs. If you or your inspector find superficial termite damage, chances are high that there’s more damage beneath. If a termite colony gets to the structures that support your home, they can render it unlivable until the damage is repaired. And it’s not just wood structures that are susceptible to termite damage. Termites also enjoy feeding on plaster, metal siding and insulation.

So, how do you spot the warning signs, aside from your home crumbling down around you in a pile of sawdust? One of the most common ways homeowners find out they have termites is when they see swarming. Swarming happens during the spring, when winged termites emerge inside homes. In nature, when the temperature starts to warm up, these termites swarm and disperse to start new colonies. Swarmers emerging indoors can’t eat wood, so they’re not dangerous, but they’re proof positive you have termites. Other signs? Discarded termite wings, bubbling wallpaper, buckling wood, swollen floors and ceilings, visible mazes in walls or furniture, holes or craters in firewood piles or stumps, or termite droppings — which, unsurprisingly, look like tiny piles of sawdust. In many cases, termite damage looks a lot like water damage. To add insult to injury, water damage can attract certain kinds of termites. Always have a professional come out to assess which problem you have.

Let’s say you have termites. Can you fix the damage without filing for bankruptcy? Chances are you can. Termites can damage a house beyond repair, but it’s rare. This happens most often when a home is vacant or the problem is ignored for several years. Generally, you have two choices when repairing wood damaged by termites.

  • Remove the damaged wood and replace it with new wood.
  • Attach new wood to the damaged wood to provide support (more cost-effective when feasible).

And of course, don’t bother making any repairs until you know the termite issue is under control and eradicated. If the damaged wood has anything to do with the structural integrity of the building, it’s important to work with a contractor, or you could put yourself in danger.

The best way to avoid getting termites is to be on the lookout for signs of infestation (this is especially important when house-hunting), and to hire a qualified pest-control technician to inspect your property on a periodic basis.


How Fast Can Termites Eat A House?

Termite Damage

Termite damage to a home depends upon a number of factors that directly or indirectly contribute to the presence of termites and how these factors support the overall health and vitality of termite survival, reproduction and associated population size.

Contributing Factors

Factors that are conducive and contributing to termite success and survival will affect the number of termites that may enter the home and feed upon the construction components of the house.

While termites may suddenly leave a food source for some reason, usually when they locate and feed on a house, they will cause damage of one degree or another.

Since there may be numerous sources of food other than a house in the termite colony’s foraging area, this factor complicates the answer to our question above.

Therefore, about the only situation that provides an acceptable answer is how long did it take termites to damage the same part of the house that previously was damaged, but remodeled and repaired.

Important Factors That Affect The Size And Vitality Of Termite Colonies

Homeowners must be able to recognize important signs or conditions that indicate subterranean, dampwood, and drywood termite problems. These signs include:

  • Swarmer termites and their shed wings found around the home’s windows and doors.
  • The presence of subterranean termite mud tubes.
  • The presence of drywood or dampwood termite fecal pellets.
  • The presence of wood damage.
  • Wood that sound hollow if tapped with a screwdriver or other similar tool.
  • Since soil moisture is required for subterranean termite survival and colony growth, if there is a part of the house that has wood to ground contact that condition is conducive to termites infesting and damaging the house. Therefore, the more soil to wood contact equates to more termites and more likelihood of activity in the home.
  • Was wood and cardboard debris created during the construction of the house and was it removed? A common mistake made during the construction phase is to bury wood debris in the dirt fills of porches and slabs.
  • Are there moisture problems around the house or property? Moist soil near the foundation is conducive to termite problems when moisture accumulates around the house foundation due to the foundation grade not sloping away from the house, clogged rain gutters, leaking faucets or downspouts that do not allow rain water to flow away from the house?
  • Does the homeowner repair or ignore leaks in the roof? Once again, moisture is a conducive factor that favors termite populations.
  • Termite populations are less likely to increase and cause damage when the homeowner conducts his or her own termite prevention techniques and uses a PMP to inspect and use termite control techniques when needed.
  • Has the house ever been treated for termites? If not, a termite infestation will continue to become more destructive and damage will be more pronounced over a shorter period of time than if the home was effectively treated by your PMP.
  • Did the house receive a pre-construction termite treatment prior to construction? A liquid termiticide application applied to the soil substrate prior to pouring the concrete is known as a termite pretreat. If that is done, termite activity will be limited, nonexistent or at least initiated much later than if the preconstruction treatment was not done.
  • Is there termite activity in mulch, trees, under firewood piles and other wood and wood related debris such as cardboard and lumber piles and have these sources that are conducive to termite activity been removed? The less termite food on the property, the less likely termites will be attracted to and invade the house.
  • Do you have a termite inspection and damage warranty from a reputable Pest Management Professional (PMP)? The obvious value of such a warranty is your PMP will be able to spot any visible termite activity and take action to manage the amount of damage the home may experience. Since most homeowner insurance policies do not cover termite damage, having an annual inspection and termite damage warranty is worthwhile.


  • What species of termites have infested your home? Generally, the subterranean termites cause more damage than either the drywood or dampwood termites. This is especially the case when the termite infestation is cause by the Formosan subterranean termite. These termites live in very large colonies that can have millions of termites in each colony. Therefore, Formosan termites can cause a huge amount of damage in a short period of time. Plus, Formosan termites may also attack living trees.
  • What is the age of the colony? The longer a colony has existed, the more termites there are might eat the wood in your home.
  • What is the construction type of the house? Stucco and exterior foam insulation systems (EIFS) are special problems when the siding is below the grade of the soil or the distance between the horizontal wooden components of the house and the soil is no less than 8-10 inches.
  • Where is the house located? Termites are generally more problematic in the south than the north and near rather than far from coastal areas.
  • Are there any secondary termites colonies present in the house? When suitable conditions exist, termites isolated from a primary colony can obtain moisture from a source other than the soil. When this happens, a secondary colony is formed and will occupy an area not required to be linked to the soil. For example, secondary colonies may be found in wood or behind siding that stays moist as the result of a rainwater or plumbing leak. EIFS homes are liable to contain secondary colonies if not properly built and annually inspected.
  • Is preservative treated wood used whenever there must be wood to ground contact on the property?
  • Are firewood or compost piles close to a house?
  • Are shrubs and other vegetation kept away from the siding and foundation; dense vines growing up the side of a home may trap moisture and increase the moisture conditions that termites require.
  • Has the homeowner taken steps to decrease the humidity in crawlspaces by fixing plumbing leaks, adding ventilation vents and installing dehumidifiers?
  • Are dirt filled planter boxes attached to the side of the house? These can be a place for termites to build colonies and penetrate the inside of the house.
  • Are termite monitors in use where termites are most likely to occur?
  • Are physical barriers such as particulate sand or rock barriers and stainless steel mesh installed to prevent or reduce termite foraging around the house?

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are commonly found infesting dry, non-decayed wood in attics and walls, plus may also infest furniture, posts and poles that remain dry.

Drywood termite colonies are smaller than subterranean termite colonies and their damage progression is much less extensive since damage is generally localized in one or only a few locations.

Dampwood Termites

Of the three main groups of termites, the dampwoods cause the least amount of damage to homes, but may cause damage to trees that are in poor health.

Likely places to encounter dampwood termites are fallen logs, stumps, dead trees or the wood in a home that stays wet from a water leak or stays in contact with the ground continuously.


How Long Does It Take For Termites To Cause Extensive Damage?

If you see a close up image of a termite, it looks like something from a creature feature. You can imagine it destroying everything in its path. When you see the real thing, it does not seem nearly as threatening; after all termites are only about an eighth of an inch in length. The truth about the destructive qualities of a termite lies somewhere between these two images.

A single termite on its own would take thousands of years to do serious damage to your property, and termites only live for around two years. The problem is that termites do not live on their own; they live in colonies with hundreds, or even thousands, of other termites. Different types of temite form different sizes of colony.

How long does it take for a colony to damage your property?

We have established that a single termite is nothing to worry about; but what about a colony of termites? Even the largest termite colonies only consume around one pound of wood every twenty-four hours. You may be wondering why you need to worry at all, as this does not sound like a lot.

The problem is that speed is not a major concern with termites; it’s the fact that they can remain undetected for years that is the main problem. Termites slowly destroy the wooden structures of your home from the inside out. They are more prevalent in damp areas, in crawl spaces and where wood comes into contact with the ground, but they can munch away anywhere in your property.

Signs of damage often do not show up for months, or even years, and by then you could end up having to pay thousands of dollars for repairs.

How can you prevent this damage?

The best way to deal with termites is to try and prevent them from entering your home in the first place. If they do get in, you need to make sure they are eradicated as soon as possible. We’ve put together some tips to help you out.

  • Keep a close watch for signs of a termite infestation.
  • Have your home checked for termites regularly; usually once every one to two years but greater frequency may be needed in areas where termite infestations are very common.
  • Set about finding a pest control company to use liquid treatments and baits, to deal with potential problems.

Taking these actions can help you deal with any termite problems, before serious structural damage is caused.

Just because termites do not seem as though they can cause much damage, if you see one up close, does not mean you should underestimate them. Once you have hundreds or thousands of the pests inside your home, they are a serious issue. If you are not alert to the danger, and do not take appropriate measures, these tiny creatures could leave you with a huge repair bill.


The Trouble with Termites: How Termites Can Ruin Your Home

The Trouble with Termites: How Termites Can Ruin Your Home

If you’ve ever experienced a termite infestation, then you know how devastating it can be to have to deal with getting rid of the colony, addressing the structural damage, and preventing future infestations. It can be a long and difficult process, but fortunately, it can also be manageable with help from the right pest control experts. Essentially, termites have evolved to do only one thing, and that one thing can completely ruin the value of your home in a matter of months. Termites eat wood, and they can eat a lot of it in a short time. The average colony can eat about one foot of a 2Γ—4 in six months, but certain species of termite can tear through homes at a much faster pace. In eating wood, termites are also making tunnels inside the wood in order to help foster and grow their colonies, each of which contain about 60,000 termites. As such, when they eat the wood that provides the structure of your home, they can quickly create an unsafe environment for you and your family.

A termite infestation that has gone unnoticed for some length of time can create a major headache, as the colony can spread and impact on the stability of the structure. Even brick or masonry homes can have termite damage, as they often still have some wooden components.

Termites thrive on moisture in the home, making the homes settled in the damp, humid southern states a prime target for these pests. Homes stand a higher chance of termite infestation if there is wood paneling or support touching the ground on the exterior of the home, if there are cracks in the foundation or if there are woodpiles or stumps near the home, which are breeding grounds for termites. However, it’s possible to get a termite infestation even if these elements aren’t present. Not only can termites do actual structural damage, but they can also cause odor due to their fecal pellets. These fecal pellets also cause discoloration and blisters on your walls, and you may have to replace them completely in order to get rid of the smell and the unsightly stains. Termite repair can cost a small fortune, and if damage is severe, there may be a need to gut an entire section of the house entirely. Termite damage around the structural foundation can be especially challenging to fix due to the location. Damage from termites not only ruins the aesthetic of your home, but also impairs the value. People interested in selling their homes may be unable to do so if there is evidence of terminate damage, as people are unwilling to purchase a home wherein the safety of the structure is compromised.

Because termite infestations may go unnoticed or undetected for a long time, it is important to address them the moment you discover them in your home. In some cases, it’s possible that your home has been infested for years, and that the visual damage you see today is only a symptom of a much deeper termite infestation.

The most effective way to rid your home of termites is to consult a pest control expert who can help identify the problem and the extent of the damage, rid your home of termites and lay down additional materials to protect against future infestations. If you have termites in your home or you want to prevent termites from damaging your home, Allgood Pest Solutions has pest control remedies for you. Please contact us to find out how our pest control experts can help protect your home against troubling termite infestations.

The Trouble with Termites: How Termites Can Ruin Your Home in Atlanta & Knoxville Metros and Surrounding Areas

Serving Clients in Atlanta GA and Knoxville TN


Tiny termite house: How termites destroy from the ins >The National Pest Management Association unveils first-of-its-kind research at the National Conference on Urban Entomology

The National Pest Management Association

Credit: The National Pest Management Association

FAIRFAX, VA. (June 13, 2018) – The National Pest Management Association revealed a high-definition, behind-the-walls look at the destructive nature of termites through the Tiny Termite House, a first-of-its-kind, groundbreaking research study and video production. With support from the City of New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board, more than half a million Formosan termites, a voracious species of subterranean termites, were introduced into the soil surrounding a tiny, built-to-scale dream home in late-January. A team of researchers began documenting and observing their behaviors and the incredible damage they leave in their wake. Recently presented at the National Conference on Urban Entomology, the Tiny Termite House is verifiable proof of just how quickly and methodically termites can eat away at a structure if left unchecked, consuming critical support beams while tucked out of sight from the human eye.

The tiny, two-story home was built to replicate an actual home in Anytown, USA and included many of the same features, such as insulation, plumbing and electricity. Other amenities included hardwood floors, a beautiful kitchen and a balcony overlooking an in-ground swimming pool. Like many American homes, the house was constructed on a cement slab. However, there was one big difference — this house was fully equipped with high-definition cameras throughout to study the termites progress from introduction to decimation.

“On the surface, the house appeared to be in good shape with minimal clues about the presence of termites. However, it was what was happening inside the walls and under the floors that showed the real story. This termite colony got right to work, forming mud tubes and turning this dream home into a danger zone,” said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the NPMA. “We were surprised to see that the termites acted much like they would in a true-to-size home, finding vulnerabilities in the structure first and then quickly began making their way up from sub-flooring and joists and into the walls.”

    1. The subterranean termites required moisture to survive and were most attracted to moist areas around the home

2. Upon introduction into the soil, the termites immediately found the structural weaknesses of the foundation, specifically at the corners of the home where the wood came together

3. Mud tubes, pathways constructed by termites to reach a food source, were built inside the walls on the studs, but not on the outside of the sheetrock, making them hard to find

4. Once the mud tubes were built, the termites attacked the floor joists before moving up to the drywall

5. The termites introduced moisture to the areas inside the home where they were feeding, which caused the floors and walls to buckle

6. During the final tour of the home, researchers found that practically all the floor and wall joists were eaten away

“We were amazed when we lifted the sub flooring from the cement slab at the foundation of the home — there were hundreds of thousands of termites living underneath it,” said Fredericks. “If we would have let the termites go for an extended period of time, we expect that the whole house would’ve began to crumble and eventually collapse before our eyes,” added Fredericks.

For more information on the Tiny Termite House, visit PestWorld.org. VisitPestWorld.org for more information about termites and be sure to follow the @PestWorld social media channels for more.

About the National Pest Management Association

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5,500 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property from the diseases and dangers of pests. For more information, visit PestWorld.org or follow @PestWorld on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


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