Typically, ceilings are made of two materials: wood and/or sheet rock. Termites can feed on parts of both of these materials. Termites also may feed on cellulose-based insulation in the ceiling or attic area.
Since drywood termites do not need soil contact to survive, they can fly into your home from any opening and then establish a colony in the ceiling. The extent of damage will depend on the length of time the colony has been active and untreated, and the construction materials in your ceiling.
Subterranean termites enter homes via mud tubes connecting the soil to your foundation, walls or wooden posts in contact with the ground. If subterranean termites are discovered in a ceiling, they likely have damaged walls on their way to the ceiling. Formosan termites are the only species of subterranean termites capable of building nests (called cartons) inside a home’s walls and ceilings, away from the soil.
Evidence of Termite Damage on a Ceiling
When drywood termites infest non-structural wood timbers in the ceiling, the damage usually is not visible. However, you may notice frass (termite droppings) near the nest. If termites damage structural timbers in the ceiling, the timbers may shift, creating cracks in the ceiling.
Ceiling Damage from Termites:
When termites damage a sheetrock-based ceiling, the damage can resemble light water damage and the ceiling may buckle and sag.
If you can see signs of termite damage to the ceiling, the damage is likely significant. An annual inspection by a licensed termite technician can help you discover and treat termite activity as soon as possible. The earlier termite activity is discovered, the easier it is to treat the infestation and prevent or repair any damage.