Keeping Tabs on Termites

From on March 18, 2008 in General

Termite damageTermites are bad news for homeowners, and no wonder. These insects feed on cellulose, the basic building block of wood, which in turn is the basic building block of millions of North American homes. Now that Spring is in the air, it’s outdoor time for home and yard maintenance. Protecting your home against termites should be part the process, especially given that Americans spend $5 billion every year on damages caused by termites and ants.

Good news is with or without realizing it, you probably already practice termite prevention. If not, keeping the insects away is not extremely challenging, especially when you keep to the following suggestions.

Prevent standing water.

Like most insects, termites are attracted to it. More than that, they need water to survive. So,

  • Avoid moisture accumulation near the foundation of your home. Grade the soil so water can drain away from your home. Install tiles or drains as needed, and make sure your downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks are functioning.
  • Fix leaky pipes or water lines.
  • Fix leaky roofs or gutters.
  • Use vapor barriers in crawl spaces.

Avoid wood contact between your home and the soil.

For instance, wood posts and stairs can be embedded in concrete. Trellises and vines can be reserved to landscaping rather than the exterior walls of the house. It’s recommended that you maintain 8 to 12 inches between ground level and wood siding, trim, porch steps, lattice work, and door or window frames. Also shrubs and bushes should be trimmed regularly, away from the home’s foundation. Here are some additional tips:

  • Remove old boards, wood scraps, or waste lumber from your lot when you’re done with construction.
  • Don’t keep old tree stumps and roots lying around, and stack firewood or other lumber above the ground (preferably away from the house) rather than directly on the soil.
  • Keep wood mulch and sawdust away from your home.

Finally, maintain your foundation.

According to the Termite Institute, subterranean termites are responsible for 95 percent of termite damage and are found in all U.S. states, except for Alaska. Protect your foundation from leaks and cracks and ensure proper ventilation. These are good habits to keep up in general, as well as specifically for termite prevention.

  • Keep shrubs, vines, and other vegetation from growing over vents.
  • Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation.
  • Reinforce concrete foundations to prevent cracking, and use concrete or steel supports when the foundation is in contact with soil.
  • Keep leaves from accumulating in gutters and drains.
  • Also, ventilate attics against humidity.

How can you tell if you have a termite problem? Seeing mudtubes, swarmers, and pellets in various rooms of the house is a definite sign. Drywood termites leave small round holes accompanied by piles of very fine wood dust. In either case, it’s best to call an exterminator.

But don’t let yourself reach that point! Schedule regular termite inspections. If it’s time for your home maintenance project, contact one of our certified landscapers, house painters, roofing and gutter specialists, or concrete contractors for free quotes! The quotes are free of charge, and we’ve done our homework to certify the best in the business. Because you’ve got more important things to worry about.

Helpful Links:

Nontoxic Pest Control
Termite Institute
How to Prevent Termites
Termite Prevention Tips
Termite Questions and Answers
How to Discover, Treat, and Prevent Termites