Spring is often considered a beautiful season as it is the time of year when nature comes back to life after hibernating during the winter months. We see new flowers, new baby animals and lots of new growth all around us. While all this newness can be exciting, the ugly truth is that spring also brings to life termites and other pests we’d rather not see again so soon.
Termites specifically are nasty pests to deal with because they do most of their dirty work out of view and the damage can be catastrophic to your home. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites alone cause up to $5 billion dollars in damage in the U.S. each year!
And it’s not just cosmetic damage; they eat into the very structure of your home. It’s a well-known fact that termites eat wood and many of the foundational elements of your home are made from wood. This includes support beams, floor joists, posts, ceiling joists and wall studs. In addition to their regular fare, termites also enjoy the occasional gourmet meal of plaster, insulation and metal siding.
Visible signs of termite damage include:
- Discolored or drooping drywall
- Peeling paint that resembles water damage
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
- Small, pinpoint holes in drywall
- Buckling wooden or laminate floorboards
- Tiles loosening from the added moisture termites can introduce to your floor
- Excessively squeaky floorboards
- Crumbling, damaged wood
- Stuck windows or doors
- Maze-like patterns in furniture, floorboards or walls
- Mound of drywood termite pellets, often resembling small piles of salt and pepper
- Piles of wings left behind after swarms, often resembling fish scales
- Mud tubes climbing the foundation of your home
- Flying termite swarms anywhere on your property
If you’re seeing any signs of termite damage to your property, you should definitely call a professional termite company for an inspection because the damage is probably already worse than you think. Termites can live in your home’s foundational elements for a long time before being detected, which means these unseen items have probably already taken on worse damage than those you can see.
A couple of ways to prevent termites from entering your home during the pre-construction phase include pouring a concrete foundation and using pressure-treated wood for framing, etc. These are common in most new homes in the DFW area these days.
But if you are trying to prevent termites from entering your lived-in home, the number one thing you can do is remove all landscaping and soil from around your home’s foundation and siding. Create a 4-inch barrier between mulch and your home. Keep plants at least a few feet away from siding and windows. Make sure the soil around your foundation is at least 6 inches lower than the siding. All these items retain moisture and moisture attracts termites and their very large families.
If you have determined that your home already has termites and termite damage, the first thing you should do is make sure those buggers are dead and gone. Consult with a termite specialist to determine the best way to remove these nuisances from your property.
Then, determine which parts of your home are majorly damaged and which parts are only cosmetically damaged. Most cosmetic damages can be handled with some weekend DIY projects. These include sheetrock/drywall repairs, painting, and floor covering replacement (after your foundation and framing have been repaired, if necessary).
For major repairs, you will need to look into hiring a general contractor. It is not recommended that you try to repair any of the damaged foundational elements of your home mentioned above unless you are a licensed contractor yourself. This is because you might need a more in-depth analysis of the damage in order to accurately assess what needs repair vs what needs replacing. Depending on the age of your home, you might also have code upgrades that might need to be made and a GC can help identify these.