Some things that damage our homes and businesses are obvious. Some are not so obvious. Termites are in the not-so-obvious category. The reason is this: termites can come up through the soil and feed on the wood of a home or business for many years before anyone realizes it is happening. Termites are so sneaky, in fact, that they worked on eating away the walls of the White House for years before termite swarmers were discovered in the West Wing, only yards away from the oval office. But if they hadn't been discovered in this way, they may have begun leaving other signs of their presence. The following is a list of things you can keep an eye (or an ear) out for if you are concerned about termites.
The not-so-obvious evidence of termites
Subterranean termites require moisture to survive. Because of this, they spend almost all of their lives living within the wood they are consuming, or the ground outside the structure they are infesting. This is why they are called subterranean, which means under the ground. They go from the ground to your home or business hidden from view. You are only likely to see them if you are doing renovations and you happen to tear out a wall where they are having lunch, or breakfast, or dinner, or the snacks that they eat 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Evidence when renovating: If you tear out a wall where termites have been eating away, you will notice what looks like a lot of long grooves stacked on top of one another. Some say this damage looks like stacked cardboard edges--only the channels of open space created by termites are much longer. If you break or cut off a piece of wood and it feels lighter than it should, this could be because termites have been feeding inside it. When termites feed, the wood becomes hollow and brittle. If termites are eating away, or have eaten away at a support beam, you may be able to tap on it and hear that it sounds hollow.
Evidence when working in the yard: Removing a stump may reveal these channels as well as the termites themselves. Though this kind of damage by termites is usually on the inside of wood, if there have been long periods of rain, subterranean termites may be able to feed on exposed areas. Also, if you have areas where there is a lot of shade and moisture, especially if those areas have sticks, leaves, stacked wood or other wooden material, sometimes external termite damage will be apparent. Another place where this kind of evidence may be present is where the wood of a structure touches the soil. This termite damage looks like the wood was attacked by several carving knives.
Evidence on foundation walls or structural beams: Since subterranean termites require moisture to live, they never go out into elements that will dry them out. Because of this, they build what are called mud tubes in which to travel from soil to structure. These tubes may look like veins, stalactites, packed mud, or clumpy lines made of mud.
Evidence Inside Your Home: When termites are allowed to feed continually for years without being halted, damage to your home will begin to be very apparent. In the initial stages, these secondary damages may look like water damage. Signs to look out for include: wallpaper that is peeling off the walls, walls that begin to have a bulge in them, floors that start to sag, and ceilings that begin to sink. Also, as support structures become weaker and weaker and things begin to warp and bend, windows and doors will cease to work properly. Windows may refuse to open, or close once they are opened. Doors may stick or not be able to be opened all the way due to a slope in the floor.
If you are seeing signs of termite damage, it may not be too late to stop the damage and save your home. And if you are not seeing signs, it is possible to keep termites from ever invading in the first place. For details on how we can help you, here at Big Blue, contact us today. We'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.