Termites have earned their most dangerous threat status due to their classification as social insects, which means they live in colonies and take care of one another. They groom and feed each other, protect the queen and the eggs she lays, and maintain the structure of the nest. With enough food (i.e. wood in and around your house), colonies can grow to support hundreds of thousands of workers. When they grow too large for one nest, colonies can divide to form new and separate colonies within the same structure. Left undetected and untreated, these termites can cause extensive damage.
Property Damage: Signs & Costs, Fixing & Reparing
Termites are considered the number one threat to homes in the U.S. — a risk greater than fire, flood and wind. While termites are not as visible or dramatic as these other dangers, their slow, methodical eating of house frames and support timbers can be very costly. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association, termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damages annually. These hungry termites are found in almost every U.S. state, except for some regions in the West and North.
What separates termite damage from fire, flood or wind damage is its subtlety. Termites can infest wall studs and foundation timbers for years without visible signs of damage. One colony can multiply into several colonies with several entry points and feeding sites.
Termites are wood-destroying insects capable of damaging a home's structural timbers, including posts, floor supports, ceiling supports, subfloors and wall studs. Termites also can damage non-structural components, including drywall paperboard, paneling, carpet and furniture. The most common species to infest and damage homes in the U.S. are drywood termites. Dampwood termites are less likely to infest homes due to their high moisture requirements.
Signs of termites are often hidden or overlooked by the average homeowner. Swarms of winged termites in the spring may be misidentified as flying ants. Mud tubes along a foundation wall may be difficult to see in the dim light of a crawlspace. Homeowners in termite-prone areas should contact a termite professional to inspect their home to prevent and treat termite damage.
Common signs of termite damage include:
- Discolored or sagging sheetrock on the ceiling or walls
- Floors that buckle or sag
- Loose tiles
- Hardwood floor slats that pop up
- Laminate floors that bubble up or sag
- Tiny pinpoint holes in drywall (where termites have damaged the paperboard)
- Bubbling or peeling paint
- Damaged wood that crumbles easily
- Jammed doors or windows
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
Signs of Termite Damage
A house with damage from termites often looks the same as any other house on the surface. Termites can build nests hidden inside walls, causing damage for years before it becomes apparent. Termite control experts are trained to spot signs of termite activity, potentially before the colony has damaged the wood inside a home.
If a termite infestation is unnoticed and untreated for many years, a home can suffer significant damage. In some cases, this damage can be easily mistaken for water damage. Termite inspectors can discern between structural damage caused by water or wood-destroying insects – including termites, carpenter ants and beetles.
Damage from termites can range from minor, superficial damage to major structural damage that can cause ceilings or floors to collapse. Early detection of termite infestations is crucial to minimize the risk and cost of
repairing termite damage. Annual inspections by a trained termite professional can help you detect signs of activity, some of which may not be easily visible.
Repairing Termite Damage
Termite colonies typically take at least five years to grow to a size that can damage homes. Extensive termite infestations that have grown over many years and been left untreated can seriously damage homes and even cause floors or roofs to collapse.
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- Repair Termite Damage to Oak Floor
- Replacing Floor Supports with Termite Damage
- Termite Damage Repair Options
Protection & Prevention
Protecting your home from termites requires a professional. A pest control expert is trained to find signs of termite activity that can be overlooked by most homeowners.
- Can You Ever Get Rid of Termites Completely?
- How Termites Get in Your Home
- Termite Prevention Tips
- Termites & Mulch
- Direct Wood Treatment
- Furniture Treatment
- Pretreated Wood
Termite Damage: Buying & Building a Home
Buying a home is a big decision and an even bigger investment. Whether you are purchasing an existing home or buying a newly constructed home, you want to make sure the investment is sound and that the home is well maintained and of good quality.