Terrorizing Termites: Is there any prevention?

Terrorizing TermitesAJF Engineering & Inspections has been conducting termite inspections in Arizona for almost 10 years now. When our clients are informed that the home has termites, they envision termites munching on baseboards, chomping up the walls and collapsing the ceiling due to extensive damage. Although termites can cause significant structural damage, the termite colonies in Arizona tend to be relatively small (compared to the Formosa Termites) and damage generally occurs over an extended period of time.

We like to say there are two kinds of houses in Arizona: those that have termites, and those that will! But what can the homeowner do to reduce the likelihood that their home will have a termite infestation problem? Before we answer that question, let us provide some information about termites.

Although there are several types of termites (drywood termites, dampwood termites, subterranean termites), the most common termite is the subterranean termite and we will limit our discussion to them. Subterranean termite colonies, as their name implies, are located below the ground and require moisture and cellulose to survive and grow. They cannot live in open air so they construct hollow, dirt tubes approximately a pencil width in diameter (shelter tubes) that they use to enter a home and feed on cellulose products (wood, paper, etc.). They require moisture to live and need it in order to construct the shelter tubes.

Here are some recommendations to help prevent termite infestation:

  • Since termites love moisture, we have seen termite tubes protruding from the floor slab all the way up to reach a leak in the dishwasher pump! All plumbing leaks, A/C condensate leaks, roof leaks, etc. should be identified and corrected so that they do not attract the termites.
  • All irrigation and plants should be moved away from your home to reduce the moisture/wet soil adjacent to the home that attracts termites.
  • The ground surrounding the home should slope away from your home to prevent standing water/moisture from collecting adjacent to the home.
  • Soil should not be piled up against the home’s exterior wood siding, hardboard siding and stucco – so called faulty grade.  Soil in direct contact with a wood framed house is an open invitation for termites.
  • Posts buried in the ground should not be in contact with your house. Again, a sure pathway for termites to go from the ground to your house.
  • Homes constructed on crawlspace should have a minimum clearance of 18” between the soil and the floor framing.
  • Sufficient ventilation openings should be installed at crawlspaces and attics to reduce the moisture and humidity levels.
  • Wood should not be stacked against your home.
  • Dead stumps, yard debris and trees located next to your home should be removed.
  • Gutters and downspouts should be clean and downspouts directed away from the home to prevent standing water adjacent to your home.

Even with precautionary steps taken, there is a chance that your home may still encounter a termite infestation problem. The best way to “prevent” termites is to schedule an annual termite inspection to identify any termite infestation/damage and have your home properly treated.

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