If termites find their way into a home, they can damage any structure made of cellulose, including wood timbers and the paperboard part of sheetrock.
The amount of damage caused by termites depends on the species of termite, length of time the infestation has gone untreated and the home’s construction. In particularly hot and humid climates, a large colony of Formosan termites can significantly damage a home in as few as two years. However, most species of termites will take at least 10 years to cause extensive damage to a home due to their comparatively smaller colony sizes.
Evidence of Termite Damage in a Wall
Termites can remain hidden within walls and floors, so it may be difficult to discover their presence. Periodic professional inspections can help detect activity before the termites have time to cause significant damage.
Common signs of termite damage to a wall include:
- Small pin holes, where termites have eaten through the paper coating on drywall and/or wallpaper. You may see dirt in a hole made by subterranean termites. Drywood termites do not leave soil behind.
- Faint ‘lines’ on drywall. (As termites tunnel through the paperboard on drywall, you may be able to see a map of their tunnels from the outside of the wall.)
- A hollow sound when you tap on the wall.
- Bubbling or peeling paint.
- Baseboards that crumble under slight pressure.
- Jammed doors or windows. (If termites damage structural components, the house can settle or shift in a way that affects the operation of doors and windows.)
Termite damage to walls can be more extensive than to other parts of the home, since walls are thin and their strength can be compromised quickly. Infestations also can spread easily in walls since walls offer a large surface area for foraging within a short distance of the nest.
Wooden Wall Damage:
Repairing Walls Damaged by Termites
Some walls are load-bearing walls, which means they help support an upper floor or the roof. Repairing damage to structural components in these walls can be complicated and is best left to a licensed contractor.
If the damage does not affect structural components, repairs may be slight, although the presence of water lines, gas pipes and ductwork can complicate any wall repair.