The following are some recommended practices that you can use to help prevent termites from invading your home. However, this list is not comprehensive. Every house is unique and it's always advisable to consult a termite prevention professional for the best and most effective ways to help prevent and treat termite infestations.
Reduce soil-to-wood contact around your house
Treating termites starts with understanding termite habitat. Most common termites across the U.S. are subterranean, making areas of contact between wood and soil in crawl spaces and other areas underneath your home a key entry point. Dr. Michael Potter, Entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, suggests the following as effective methods to aid in termite prevention:
- Remove all lumber, wood, mulch, paper, cardboard or other cellulose-based debris from around the foundation.
- Stack firewood at least 20 feet away from your home, and raise the stored wood at least 8 inches off the ground.
- Create a 4-inch barrier between mulch and your home. If possible, only the concrete foundation should touch the soil.
- Keep wooden siding at least 6 inches above the soil.
- If you have a wooden fence near your home, check for rotted or infested wood. You can also use a termite-proof paint or stain to discourage them from turning your fence into a new nest.
- Have a termite prevention professional apply treatment.
Keep plants away from your home
While we all love having plants near our homes. Some plants can provide a pathway for termites. Plants can also make it harder to notice if termites are attacking your wood siding or exploiting cracks in your home's foundation. To better protect your foundation, Potter also recommends:
- Keeping all shrubbery near your home trimmed, allowing at least 12 inches between the shrubbery and the exterior wall of your home. Trimming shrubbery can also improve airflow, allowing damp areas to dry out quicker while making it easier to discover termite tubes and termite damage.
- Keeping grass near your home cut short and raked regularly.
- Using pine needles as mulch. Pine needles are less appetizing to subterranean termites than wood mulch. If pine needles aren't available in your area, consider pea gravel or other non-organic material as a barrier between your house and the ground.
Keep moisture away from your foundation
Termites love moisture, which can often exist in the foundation and crawl space of your home. To keep termites away, take the following steps recommended by the University of Minnesota to help keep these areas dry:
- Ensure storm drains empty a few feet from the foundation and that your soil drainage minimizes overly moist soil.
- Check your roofing and flashing for water leaks.
- Check gutters and downspouts to ensure water is directed away from your foundation wall.
- Keep all sprinkler heads pointed away from your home's foundation. Check for plumbing leaks in your home and crawl space.
- Direct all condensation from air conditioners, clothes dryers and other appliances away from your home.
- Check or install vapor block barriers in your crawl space, and consider using a dehumidifier.
Remove food sources
Termites eat the cellulose in wood and other paper products. Taking these steps to cut off access to their food sources can help make your home less attractive to termites.
- Keep dead trees and rotting wood away from your home.
- Remove any tree stumps or leftover construction wood around your home.
- Don't leave newspapers, cardboard boxes and other paper products in your home for extended periods of time. Be wary of using and leaving them around your property, as well.
- Recycle paper and wood products, or store important papers on the upper levels of your home.
Seal gaps caused by settling
Different materials like wood, metal, concrete and PVC shrink and expand at different rates over time. This settling process may lead to cracks and gaps that create other points of entry for termites. Because termites can enter a structure through a space as small as 1/32nd of an inch, you should seal these gaps when you notice them appearing. To help keep termites from entering your home:
- Seal cracks around water and gas lines with caulk or foam sealant. If there are larger gaps, stainless steel mesh could be used to fill in the spaces before caulking.
- If pipes show signs of rust or moisture, make sure there aren't any cracks or leaks that create moisture that may attract the termites. Patch any cracks in your home's foundation using cement or a concrete patching compound.
- Remove any rotten or damaged wood and replace with termite-resistant materials such as steel framing or pressure-treated wood.
Keep flying termites away during swarming season
During the early spring, flying termites may swarm to establish new colonies. These tips can help keep termites from swarming into your home:
- Turn off outdoor lights at night, which can attract flying termites. If possible, relocate lights to recessed areas away from doors and windows and soffit vents.
- Have a professional check your roof and eaves for any gaps that termites could use to enter your home, and repair gaps as quickly as possible.
- Check window screens and patch any holes.
- Have a professional check your roof for any signs of water damage, mold or rot. Structures with flat roofs or chronic leaks can be at risk because the structure can retain enough moisture for a termite colony to establish itself.
Get regular termite inspections
While using this checklist can help with termite protection, it's always a good idea to have your home annually inspected by a trained termite professional. They should be able to locate points of access that aren't immediately apparent or identify early signs of infestation in your home.
How to Keep Termites Away
Concerned about termites? The termite prevention professionals at Terminix® know how to check for termites and can provide you with a strategy to help remove infestations and keep termites from finding their way into your home. Get started today with a free initial termite inspection.