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What to Do When You Notice Termite Damage at Home

August 3, 2022
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A termite problem at home can lead to severe structural damage if left unchecked. These pests move quietly, making it difficult for homeowners to spot live termites around their homes. When you spot early signs of termite activity at home, make sure to get rid of them immediately before they start causing significant damage.

So what exactly should homeowners do when they spot termite damage in their homes? The first thing they should do is to confirm the presence of termite activity and find their nests. They can try to get rid of the termites using different control methods or they can call a professional exterminator to take care of the problem. After eliminating the termite infestation, it’s also crucial to replace or repair all the damaged wood on the property.

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What You Should Do About the Termite Damage at Home

Like other common household pests, the appearance of termites shouldn’t be taken lightly. Every year, Americans spend a total of about $5 billion on termite control efforts and termite damage repair in their homes.

These destructive pests are difficult to eliminate without the help of a professional pest control service provider because of various reasons – they’re difficult to spot, they reproduce quickly, and they can rebuild their colony quickly even if just a few of them survive. So if there are termites or signs of an active infestation in your home, make sure to do the following things immediately:

Locate the Termite Nests

Finding the termite nests is the first step to effective termite treatment because a termite colony gives you all the needed information – if there are indeed termites on the property, what species of termites you’re dealing with, and how severe the infestation is.

To locate termite colonies, homeowners should be familiar with the appearance of different termite species and the signs of an active infestation.

Know What Termites Look Like

  • Eastern Subterranean Termites – A worker subterranean termite measures around 1/4 inch with cream-colored bodies. They have small jaws that allow them to chew through a wood structure. Soldier termites have bigger mandibles to help defend their colony. Queen termites have bigger bodies, while reproductive termites have wings.
  • Drywood Termites – Unlike subterranean termites, a dry wood termite doesn’t need soil contact to survive. They’re frequently found in dead wood and other wooden structures around the house. An adult dry wood termite measures around 1/4 to 1 inch long with creamy white to light brown body.
  • Formosan Termites – This termite species is similar to other subterranean termite species in that it also needs soil and moisture to survive. To identify a Formosan termite, check for a 1/2 inch body that’s pale yellow to brownish-yellow in color, broad waists, and straight antennae.

Look Out for Signs of Termite Activity

  • Mud tunnels connect the soil to the wood that termites consume. Each mud tube is usually as wide as a pencil. These termite tunnels are a common sign of subterranean termite infestation.
  • A collection of frass near the opening of a wooden structure. It looks like sawdust, but it’s actually a combination of termite droppings, wood shavings, and remains of the dead insect.
  • Hollow sounds when knocking on wood. Termites consume wood, but they usually leave the surface intact. A hollow sound is an indication that the wood is already weak and there are termites inside.
  • Rustling noises inside the wood, especially at night. Termites work quietly, but it’s possible to hear them scurry around at night if you listen closely and press your ear to the affected wood structure.
  • Evidence of swarming termites, like discarded wings or live winged termites. Termite swarmers typically around spring to mate. They quickly disappear after breeding, leaving piles of wings scattered around.

Get Rid of the Termites for Good

After locating the termite nest and knowing more about the pests, homeowners have 2 options: eliminate the problem by themselves or call a pest control expert to exterminate the termites for good. If you decide to eliminate the termites without the help of a professional, there are a few products you can use:

  • Bait Stations – Bait stations contain bait with slow-acting but powerful termiticide. It works by luring the working termites and allowing them to bring the poisoned bait back to their colony. Bait stations kill multiple termites at once.
  • Aerosol Sprays – This is a quick way to kill termites on-site if they’re feeding on the damaged wood around the property. Make sure to use the aerosol with caution because it may contain harsh chemicals that might harm pets and humans if mishandled. These sprays may also work on other small pests like carpenter ants.
  • Termiticide Foams – Like aerosol sprays, termiticide foams are also directly applied on surfaces where termites appear. Spray them into tubes, cracks, and crevices that termites use as pathways back to their colony.

Call Professional Termite Exterminators

While some termites can be killed off using home remedies or store-bought pesticides, wiping out the entire colony and preventing these pests from coming back requires the help of a pest control company. 

Professional termite exterminators have the right training, experience, and equipment to eliminate termites on a property. They used professional-grade termiticides that aren’t commercially available to kill the termites quickly and prevent them from returning after a while. 

Replace All the Damaged Wood

There are 2 important reasons why it’s crucial to replace the infested wood on the property after a termite treatment: to preserve the structural integrity of the home and to ensure that any surviving termites are gone for good. 

Repairing vs. Replacing Damaged Wood

Replacing damaged wood can cost homeowners thousands of dollars after a severe termite infestation. To help cut costs, many of them wonder if it’s still possible to repair some of the wooden structures instead of replacing everything completely. While this might be an option for some people, it’s important to examine the extent of the damage first.

When considering repairing the aftermath of a termite attack, homeowners may remove and replace the damaged wood with new ones or chop off the damaged areas and add new wood to support the old wood. For superficial wood damage that doesn’t move deep into the structure, adhesives and wood sealants might be enough. However, make sure to thoroughly check the extent of the damage first and ensure that no termites managed to survive.

For moderate wood damage, there might be signs of water damage or rotting wood. The infested wood might appear discolored or crumbling, so make sure to correctly determine the extent of the damage. Clean the damaged wood and apply wood sealants and hardeners. If the damage is more extensive, adding extra wood helps support the damaged section of the wood.

When the termite damage goes beyond a few floorboards and wooden beams, it’s best to call a professional to assist with the repairs. Termite colonies can grow large enough to cause wood warpage, so some of the affected areas might collapse if not replaced immediately. 

Can You Get Rid of Termites With Home Remedies?

It’s natural for many homeowners to try eliminating termites with home remedies first when they notice the early signs of termite damage. Here are some of the most common natural termite repellents to use at home:

  • Boric Acid – This low toxicity compound dehydrates termites and shuts down their nervous system, resulting in the slow death of multiple termites at once.
  • Wet Cardboard – The cellulose in the cardboard attracts termites, but they can get caught in between the two pieces stacked on top of each other. Remember to burn the cardboard after trapping the termites instead of simply disposing of it.
  • Diatomaceous Earth – This natural pesticide works by penetrating the exoskeleton of termites, dehydrating and killing them off slowly.
  • Nematodes – These microscopic roundworms are natural predators of different household and stinging insects, including ants and termites. They burrow into the termite’s body to poison their blood and kill it within a few days.

For severe termite infestations, it’s better to combine these home remedies with more effective termite treatments to eliminate the pests. They’re also good termite prevention measures, but homeowners shouldn’t rely on these methods alone to protect their home. To ensure that the pests won’t return to your home, call a professional termite exterminator to take care of the problem immediately.

Take Back Your Home from Termites with Positive Pest Management

Positive Pest Management is a trusted pest control company that serves different households and businesses in New York City. You can call us for an accurate termite inspection and we’ll recommend a termite treatment plan for your property. We always ensure the safety of our clients by utilizing IPM-based methods to get rid of the termites safely, quickly, and effectively.

Call us today to get a free estimate.

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