Structural Termite Damage
Termites can damage a number of structural components in a house, including support beams, posts, wall studs, floor joists, ceiling joists and roof supports. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, and the building materials required to fix it, repairs can be complicated and costly.
The most effective way to prevent termite damage is to work with a licensed termite technician who can provide annual inspections and recommend prevention and control methods, when needed. Since termites can damage homes with few signs of activity, it is important to hire a trained professional for help discovering termites before they can cause significant structural damage.
If your termite inspector finds superficial termite damage during an inspection, ask him or her about the extent of the damage. While you may see only a small amount of damage, there may be more damage beneath the surface. For example, if a hardwood floor is damaged, termites likely have infested the subfloor and floor supports beneath it.
To ensure the integrity of your home, structural components should be repaired first, before superficial damage. If damage is discovered, contact a builder to inspect the home and confirm the extent and cost of recommended repairs.
Example of structural damage:
How to Repair Termites' Structural Damage
Depending on the location of the damage, repairs can be difficult. It is typically easier to insert new, treated wood next to the damaged wood than to replace the damaged wood entirely. If you need to completely replace damaged wood, your contractor will use temporary supports to ensure the repairs do not impact the structural integrity of your home. In many cases, structural timbers are near gas lines, water lines and ductwork, which can complicate the repair process.
Whether the damaged wood is replaced or additional pieces are added, it is important to hire a licensed contractor to make sure repairs provide adequate support. In the event of extensive structural damage, you may need to consult with an engineer.
Boat / Yacht Termite Damage
Boats can be a food source for termites. The brightwork, or wooden trim can host drywood termites. The moister structural portions of a boat may support subterranean termites. Termites do not need to find soil if there is adequate water.
Can Termite Damage be Fixed?
Most termite damage can be fixed and there are few cases where a house is totally destroyed by termites. About twenty years ago, a moderately priced home had a documented $1 million in damage so termites should not be underestimated.
Formosan Termites in the Attic
Any subterranean termite species needs food, water, and protection. Attics, especially those that have a water source, can support subterranean termites. Formosan termite colonies build carton which can easily retain necessary moisture.
Hollow Sounding Wood as a Sign of Termites
Hollow sounding wood as a sign of termites is common in areas where termite infestation is common. The hollow sound may be from the wood that is destroyed by the termites.
Laminate Flooring Damage
Laminate flooring is a sandwiched series of wood layers with a finished surface. If subterranean termites attack laminate flooring, the damaged sections may have to be replaced if the structural integrity is jeopardized signifcantly.
Loose Floor Tiles as a Sign of Termites
Subterranean termites can cause damage in areas not normally associated with termites. Loose floor tiles can be a sign of termites, especially in older homes.
Termite Carpet Infestation
Carpets which have a natural jute backing can be subject to subterranean termite attack as the jute contains cellulose which is food for termites. Many attacked carpets also lead to infestation of the floor beneath the carpet.
Termite Ceiling Damage
Termites may feed on the paper backing of drywall or gypsum board ceilings as well as cellulose based tiles so infestation of ceilings is possible. Also, termite tubes have been found coming down from ceilings as termites seek the soil.
Termite Damage and Insulation
Termites are not normally found in fiberglass insulation but they are commonly found in foam board insulation, especially if the foam board goes below grade on the exterior of a structure.
Termite Damage in Bathroom
Subterranean termites need moisture to survive, so bathrooms can be a typical place where termite infestation is found especially in slab houses. Where termites have direct access to bathrooms, there is a chance of infestation.
Termite Damage in Sub Floor
A floor structure is composed of wood which supports the floor called joists. Then a subfloor sheeting is added, usually plywood, and finally the flooring is installed, commonly oak. The joists and subfloor are softwoods and more susceptible to termite attack.
Termite Damage to Floors
Termites can damage flooring and the structure under the floor. It is best to have an expert evaluate and damage to determine the need for repair. If repair is required, flooring can be removed and repairs made from above. Joists and subfloors can be repaired from below if accessible.
Termite Damage to Sheetrock
Today, few houses have plaster walls but have drywall or gypsum board. These are made of a mineral sandwiched between two paper layers. This paper is subject to attack by termites as it is cellulose. Infested material should be replaced.
Termite Damage to Wall
Both drywood and subterranean termites can damage walls and this is especially important when termites attack structural members inside the wall such as wall studs. Generally houses do not collapse but termites can affect structural integrity and repairs must be made.
Termite Foundation Damage
Subterranean termites can enter structures through cracks in the foundation. They do not have the ability to burrow into intact masonry foundations, but they will use the foundations as a bridge to obtain the cellulose food of a structure.
Termites and Paint
If there are signs of bubbling or peeling paint inside a home, the homeowner should look for water leaks. If there are no leaks, the area should be probed to see if the wood is soft.
Termites in Drywall Damage
Drywall is the modern plasterboard used in most homes. It is a mined product, gypsum, sandwiched between two layers of thick paper. The paper is cellulose and is a favorite food of subterranean termites, especially if there is a moisture leak which can attract termites.
Termites Under House Slab
Subterranean termites are native to the soil and typically live under slabs as well. The only concern, though, is when the termites come up through pipe or electical penetrations or expansion joints, when control measures are necessary.
Water Damage vs. Termite Damage
It is important to understand the difference between water damage and decay vs termite damage. Subterranean termites can bring moisture into a structure leading to bubbling paint. If the wood is decayed, the damage cuts across the grain where termite damage runs with the grain.