How to Rid Your Home of Termites

How to Rid Your Home of Termites

Got termites? These pesky insects can be a real headache. They build huge colonies and can cause great destruction to your property.

Professional exterminators can get rid of these pests for you. If the cost of termite treatment seems overwhelming to you, check out the following prevention and control tips that you can try on your own.

Inspect Your Foundation Regularly

Take a good look all around your foundation a few times a year. You may wonder why, since termites don’t eat concrete. It’s critical because they often climb the understructure in search of wood to devour.

When they scale the foundation, they typically build mud tubes. If you see these, you’ll need to take a closer look to analyze whether they’ve done any damage to wooden siding or deeper structural elements.

You’ll also want to check the inside of your foundation and the wood touching it. You can verify this from your basement or crawlspace. Use a bright flashlight to examine the understructure, beams, and joists.

Termites can enter your home through cracks in bricks, cement, or expansion joints. Inspect these fissures for evidence of their presence. If possible, seal the openings to prevent access.

It may be wise to enlist the help of a professional to examine your home every few years. You may need such assistance if your house has wood elements that touch the ground or areas that are difficult to inspect.

Check for Signs of Infestation

Look for evidence of damaged wood. You may see crushing at structural joints. Check for tiny holes the size of a pencil point.

If you suspect termites have caused damage, you can test the wood with your thumb. You may also choose to probe using the blunt end of a flathead screwdriver or pocket knife.

Press firmly against the element, and if it isn’t solid, you likely have a termite problem. You can then scrape away part of the wood to expose any tunnels.

Brittle drywall can indicate that you have tiny invaders. If you notice paint bubbling or buckling, it can also be a telltale sign.

Keep an eye out for small accumulations of termite droppings that are similar to sawdust. There may also be piles of wings, especially near windows or other light sources. You might even discover live insects.

Take Care of Ventilation and Sealing

Some species of termites prefer to munch on damp wood. Because of this, you’ll want to keep moisture from building up in your home. You can do so by checking your sealing and ventilation.

Attics and basements are especially susceptible to condensation, which can cause moisture to seep into the wood. Damp air can also build up behind walls, inviting termites to explore. Thus, you’ll want to be sure to seal or adequately ventilate these areas.

Be Aware of Termite Food Sources

Many materials in your home can attract termites. While wood is the best known, there are numerous others. 

These items can become termite food because they contain cellulose. Be aware of possible infestations in the following substances in your household:

Wood

If your house contains a lot of wood, you’ll want to be aware of all the different locations termites can inhabit. They include:

  • Structural elements like beams, posts, joists, studs, floors, ceilings, siding, and paneling
  • Doors and windows and their frames
  • Anywhere wood touches concrete, including slabs or steps
  • Cabinets
  • Furniture
  • Decks or porches

Elements at or near ground level are the most susceptible to attacks from these insects.

Cardboard

Cardboard attracts termites because of the vegetable fibers it contains. Thus, it’s ideal to use plastic storage bins instead of cardboard boxes. 

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Plants

Indoor plants help make your house a home and provide essential oxygen. Unfortunately, they may also invite termites. Species that prefer dampness can find the potting soil an excellent environment for a nest.

Fabric

Natural materials like cotton and linen contain cellulose. Some manufacturers also use this substance to make synthetic fabrics. The following household items can be vulnerable to termite attacks due to their composition:

  • Clothing
  • Curtains
  • Sofas and armchairs
  • Bedding

Carpet

Rugs also contain cellulose and thus invite termites to munch on them. These insects can destroy carpet fibers, pads, subfloor, and tack strips.

If you notice patterns of wear in areas with low traffic, termites may be to blame. Take a closer look, and enlist the help of an inspector if necessary.

Sheetrock Paper

Drywall consists of a plaster panel covered with a thick sheet of paper on each side. Since this outer surface contains cellulose, it’s vulnerable to termite activity. Watch for mud tubes or pinholes in your walls or ceiling.

Keep Termites Away from Your House

After all we’ve seen here so far, you’ll likely agree that the best place for termites is far away from your home. You can help make this happen by using the tips listed below.

Create a Physical Separation

Termites can easily travel from wood stored outside your home to siding and then internal elements. Thus, you’ll want to keep woodpiles and brush at least 20 feet (6 meters) away from your house. It can also help to raise firewood off the ground and protect it from getting wet.

Trim trees and shrubs so that they’re not in close contact with the exterior of your home, and avoid placing mulch against the foundation. Remove any stumps near the house.

Use Bait Stations

If you find termites in your yard, you can use bait stations to keep them far from the house. These devices contain cellulose to attract the insects, plus a pesticide that’s poisonous to them. 

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Worker termites searching for food sources enter the station and ingest the bait. The poison usually works slowly enough that they have time to get back to the colony and spread the substance to others. In this way, you destroy the nest, so the pests can’t damage your home.

It’s essential to place the bait stations correctly, so termites find them. The best location is approximately two to four feet from the house’s foundation, at about 10 to 20-foot intervals. Choose zones where you notice or suspect termite activity, such as tree stumps, woodpiles, and moist areas.

Spray Insecticides

If you have chemical allergies, pets, or small children, you may wish to avoid pesticide treatments at all costs. However, insecticides remain one of the most effective ways of eliminating termite infestations.

Treating the outside of your home with a liquid pesticide at least once quarterly helps keep the termites away. You may want to choose a monthly schedule if you have high insect populations on your property or live in a hotter climate.

Using a hand-pump sprayer, apply the insecticide solution to the sides of the house up to a height of three feet off the ground. Spray the soil to a distance of one foot away from the foundation.

Make sure you apply the solution around all door and window frames. Include any other areas where you notice pests have been active.

Use Treated Wood for Outdoor Structures

When building things like fences, sheds, and decks, make sure you use pressure-treated wood to prevent termite damage. This lumber goes through a process that forces water and preservatives into its fibers.

Termites hardly ever try to eat treated wood, since they can tell it contains chemicals. Be sure to choose the correct type of lumber for your project based on whether it’ll be above the ground or in contact with the soil.

Try Killing Termites with Heat

These insects cannot withstand excessive heat. So, you may be able to repel or kill them by using it to your advantage. If you can elevate the temperature of a material or space to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes, the termites present will die.

If you choose to try heat, make sure no plastics or wiring are in the affected area. This tactic works best on smaller elements like joists. It isn’t as effective with thicker beams.

Summing It Up

Termites can be a significant problem for homeowners. However, you can take several practical steps to prevent infestations or treat them when they occur. Examine your foundation regularly, and check structural wood for signs of infestation.

Verify your home’s sealing and ventilation. Be aware of what attracts termites, and try to keep them away from the house. Using treated wood for outdoor structures will also help repel these pests. 

If you find the troublesome insects in your home, you can try turning up the heat to get rid of them. Doing all these things will help you keep your house as termite-free as possible.

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