It is rare but possible for some termite species to damage a house beyond repair, if the infestation is left untreated for many years. The most destructive termite in the U.S. is the Formosan termite, a type of subterranean termite found in the southern U.S. and in coastal areas. A large Formosan termite colony can cause significant damage to a house in approximately two years, if it is not controlled.
Other termite species would take several more years to cause the same level of damage as Formosan termites since other species have much smaller colony sizes. In fact, some drywood termite colonies are so small that it would take more than 20 years for them to cause damage so extensive that a house could not be repaired.
It is not common for termites to completely destroy a home before the activity is discovered by a homeowner. Once a colony grows to maturity, signs of activity typically become more visible. Periodic inspections by a licensed termite technician can help homeowners detect termite infestations while damage is minimal and repairs are less expensive.
How to Fix Termite Damage
Termite damage can be repaired in most cases. Before making any repairs, work with your termite control professional to ensure all active termite colonies have been controlled. You also may choose preventative measures to help reduce the likelihood of reinfestation. If significant structural damage is present, temporary supports should be put in place until repairs are made.
There are two main ways to repair wood damaged by termites:
- The damaged wood can be removed and replaced with new wood.
- A new piece of wood can be attached to the damaged wood to provide support.
Both methods are effective for structural and non-structural repairs. Attaching a new piece of wood to damaged wood often is more cost effective, where it is feasible. The support method may not be the best option if the original wood is too badly damaged, in a visible area, or in an area that does not have enough space for additional wood beside the damaged wood. In these situations, you will need to replace the damaged wood completely.
Extensive termite damage can cause roofs, ceilings and floors to collapse. If the damaged wood provides structural support to the home – such as support posts, beams, floor or ceiling joists, or wall studs – it is best to hire a licensed contractor to complete the repair work. If a structural repair is not adequate, it can seriously impact the stability and structural integrity of your home.