Termites cause irreparable damage to homes that can affect both their structure and integrity. In fact, termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year and homeowners spend more than $2 billion on treatments. The most common type of termite in the United States is the subterranean termite, although you can also find drywood, dampwood and Formosan termites, as well. Termites eat wood from the inside out and can go undetected for long periods of time. Homeowners are often not even aware of their presence until they spot a termite swarm or discover damage that is already significant.

Some common signs of termites in your home include termite swarms on your property; mud tubes on foundations; piles of discarded wings; discolored or drooping drywall; peeling paint; wood that sounds hollow when tapped; squeaky floorboards; windows and doors that stick; crumbling or damaged wood; loosening tile; buckling wood or laminate floors; and small, pinpoint holes in drywall.

There are three standard methods of treating termites, all of which have different levels of effectiveness depending on what type of termite you are dealing with.

Soil Treatment

Soil treatments are used on the soil surrounding your home to create a barrier. First, a trench is dug around your foundation. The soil is treated with a termiticide and the trench is then refilled. This helps prevent future termite infestations and also kills any termites in the house as they pass through the chemicals on their return to their nest.

Wood Treatment

There are a variety of wood treatment methods used to both kill existing termite colonies and also prevent future ones from popping up. Wood treatments include surface sprays which are applied to the surface of wood; injected sprays and foams which are applied inside the wood; borate treated wood; and gas fumigation where fumigants permeate throughout the entire home and disrupt the metabolism of the termites. Surface sprays and borate treated wood are typically used during the construction phase of homes or during renovations and repairs; injections and foams are usually used after a home is built.

Bait Systems

Bait systems are effective at destroying termite colonies. A termite control professional installs bait stations around the perimeter of your home and monitor these stations on a set schedule. These ensure your home is protected from both current and future infestations. Bait stations contain chemicals that the termites eat and take back to their colonies, spreading it to the others. Bait stations are most effective when dealing with larger termite populations.

So which type of treatment works best for each type of termite?

Subterranean termites prefer to build their nests underground. They will enter homes at places where the wood comes into direct contact with the soil, squeezing through small cracks in the foundation or around utility pipes or by using mud tubes. The best treatment for subterranean termites is through monitoring and bait stations and soil termiticide application.

Drywood termites don’t need a connection to the ground to thrive. These termites will establish their colony wherever they can find a preferred source of wood. They need less moisture to survive than other termite species do and are often found in attics, dead or dying trees and shrubs, utility poles, fences, and furniture. Drywood termites are best treated with gas fumigation and targeted termiticide.

Dampwood termites are much larger than subterraneans and have large pincers which they use to fight off their predators. They prefer to colonize damp or decaying wood with high moisture content or moist wood that is in contact with the ground (logs, stumps, etc). These termites don’t usually nest in the soil or  build mud tubes. They are generally not as destructive as the other species of termites. The best treatment for dampwood termites is moisture removal and termiticide application.

Prevention

Ongoing prevention is the best bet for controlling termites because most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover termite damage. Prevent termites by:

  • Using concrete foundation during construction and leaving a ventilation space between the soil and the wood
  • Covering exposed wood surfaces with sealant or a metal barrier
  • Keeping the soil around foundations dry after construction with proper grading and drainage
  • Maintaining gutters and downspouts
  • Reducing openings that offer access to termites by filling cracks in cement foundations or around gaps where utilities enter the home with cement, caulk, or grout
  • Fixing leaks immediately
  • Keeping vents free from blockage
  • Avoiding landscaping that is too close to the structure and not allowing them to grow against wooden structures
  • Not keeping firewood or wood debris piled up next to the house
  • Getting an annual termite inspection from a professional

Termites can wreak havoc on your home. If you suspect a termite infestation, contact your local pest control companyhttps://dcspestcontrol.com/ for proper identification and the most comprehensive treatment and prevention plan for your home.