Termite Control in the Home
Wood destroying insects and other organisms can cause serious problems in the wood structural components
of a house and may go undetected for a long period of time.
All chemical soil treatments, bait systems, and chemical wood treatment must be approved by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and applied in accordance with the EPA label instructions. In some cases it is not feasible
for a builder to arrange for soil treatment. In this regard, the International Residential Code (IRC) by the International
Code council allows a builder to utilize pressure treated wood as a measure of termite protection. If pressure treated wood
is used, however, it must be used in all framing members up to and including the top plate of the first floor level wall.
This includes the subfloor and floor joists of the first floor. The use of pressure treated wood in only the sill plate is
not acceptable. In such cases, the builder must provide the lender with a letter stating that the house is protected from
termites by the use of pressure treated wood. The builder must also provide the home buyer with a one year warranty against
termites. The use of post-construction soil treatment where the chemicals are applied only
around the perimeter of the foundation is NOT acceptable in new construction.
Appraisers are to observe all areas of the house and other structures/areas within the legal
boundaries of the property that have potential for infestation by termites and other wood destroying organisms, including
the bottoms of exterior doors and frames, wood siding in contact with the ground and crawl spaces. Mud tunnels running from
the ground up the side of the house may indicate termite infestation. Observe the eave and gable vents and wood window sills
for indication of the entrance of swarming termites and note excessive dampness or large areas where the vegetation is dead.
Evidence of active termite infestation must be noted.
Subterranean termites are the most damaging insects of wood. Their presence is hard to notice
and damage usually is found before the termites are seen. Prevent infestations because if they occur they will almost always need professional pest control service.
Hire a qualified InterNACHI inspector to inspect for termites or other wood destroying organisms.
Generally, the first sign of infestation is the presence of swarming termites on the window or near indoor light. If they
are found inside the house, it almost always means that they have infested. Other signs that may be found are termite wings
on window sills or in cobwebs, and shelter tubes which are tunnels constructed by the termites from soil or wood and debris.
Usually, wood damage is not found at first, but when it is found it definitely reveals a termite infestation. Anywhere wood
touches soil is a possible entry into a home for termites. Examine wood which sounds dull or hollow when struck by a screwdriver
or hammer. Inspect suspected areas with a sharp, pointed tool such as an ice pick to find termite galleries or their damage.
Control measures include reducing the potential infestation, preventing termite entry and applying
chemicals for remedial treatment.
Inspect thoroughly to determine if there is an infestation, damage, and/or conditions that could
invite a termite attack or the need for remedial control measures. The tools and equipment needed for an inspection include
a flashlight, ice pick or sharp-pointed screwdriver, ladder and protective clothing. Always hire a qualified inspector
for your inspection needs, trained by the highest standards in the inspection industry.
Check the foundation of the house, garage and other buildings for shelter tubes coming from the
soil. Look closely around porches, connecting patios, sidewalks, areas near kitchens or bathrooms and hard-to-see places.
Check window and door frames and where utility services enter the house for termite infestation or wood decay. Also look behind
shrubbery or plants near walls. Pay special attention to areas where earth and wood meet such as fences, stair carriages or
trellises. Open and check any exterior electrical meter or fuse box set into the wall, a common point of infestation.
Carefully check all doors, window facings, baseboards and hardwood flooring. Discoloration or
stains on walls or ceilings may mean that water is leaking and can decay wood and aid termite infestation. It is very important
to inspect where plumbing or utility pipes enter the foundation or flooring. Also examine the attic for shelter tubes, water
leakage, and wood damage.
Many termite problems can be prevented. The most important thing to do is deny termites access
to food (wood), moisture and shelter.Follow the sugestions below.
- have at least a 2-inch clearance between the house and planter boxes or soil-filled porches
- elimiate all wood-to-soil contacts such as trellises, fence posts, stair casings and doorfacings
(they can be put on masonary blocks or on treated wood)
- separate shrubbery from the house to help make it easier to inspect the foundation line
- use wolmanized wood (pressure-treated wood) so that rain will not rot it
- seal openings through the foundation
- remove wood scraps or stumps from around foundations
- have at least 12"-18" clearance between floor beams and the soil underneath
Termite treatment often requires specialized equipment. Therefore, it is recommended that you
always use the services of a pest control operator because he is familiar with construction principles and practices, has
the necessary equipment and knows about subterranean termites.
Local or Spot Control
Local or spot control methods include the use of pesticides, electric current, extreme
cold, localized heat, microwave energy, or any combination of these methods. Local or spot control also includes the removal
and replacement of infested structural timber. These methods are intended to remove or kill termites only within the specific
targeted area, leaving open the possibility of other undetected infestations within the structure. These treatments are NOT
designed for whole-house eradication. Any pest control company that claims whole-house results with local or spot control
methods is guilty of false advertising and should be reported.
Local or spot treatment with pesticides involves drilling and injecting pesticides
into infested timbers, as well as the topical application of toxic chemicals. The electric current method involves delivering electric energy to targeted infestations. For the extreme cold
method, liquid nitrogen is pumped into wall voids adjacent to suspected infestation sites, reducing the area to -20°F. The
localized heat method involves heating infested structural timbers to 120°F. The microwave method kills termites by directing
microwaves into termite-infested wood.
If you see the following signs in your house, you might have termites:
• sawdust-like droppings
• dirt or mud-like
tubes or trails on the structure
• damaged wood members (like window sills)
• swarming winged insects
within the structure, especially in the spring or fall.