Every year, homeowners spend more than $5 billion repairing termite damage, yet 80 to 90 percent of them are not protecting themselves from this potential expense. This includes checking your home's foundation for termite damage.
Termites are destructive insects, causing billions of dollars in damage and treatment costs each year in the United States. The most common damage-causing termite in the U.S is the subterranean termite. These termites typically gain access into homes and other buildings through gaps in the foundation. A termite’s appetite is restricted to wood and plant matter, so once in the home, termites will seek out wooden structures to feed on, potentially causing damage.
Here is a handy checklist to not only help you check your foundation for termites, but also protect yourself from infestation and damage.
Termite Self-Inspection Checklist
Are there visual clues?
Check for mud tubes along foundation cracks or behind your siding or baseboards.
Look for termite swarms. To tell the difference between termites and flying ants, take note of their antennae and wings:
Termites: straight antennae and wings of the same length
Flying ants: antennae bent at a 90-degree angle and front wings longer than hind wings
Listen for hollow spots in exposed wood using a flat-head screwdriver.
Are you looking in the right places?
According to Dr. Barb Ogg, extension educator at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, these areas are prime locations for termite entry:
Cracks in your concrete foundation
Cracks in the basement floor where it meets the side of the foundation
Where the garage slab and house are attached
Do you own a brick house?
A brick house doesn't mean you're free from termites. Check behind the brick veneer. Termites travel behind the brick veneer, so you may never see them.
The structure of your brick house is made of wood, so termites can damage the framing timbers.
Can I reduce the risk of termites entering through my home's foundation?
Keep the soil around your foundation dry.
Use proper grading to promote drainage.
Clean your gutters and downspouts to provide good drainage.
Fix leaks immediately.
Block the termites’ access to your house by using cement, caulk or grout to:
Fill cracks in your cement foundation. Termites can squeeze through an opening as small as 1/32 of an inch, barely wider than a human hair.
Seal openings where utilities enter your house.
Keep wood away from your house and away from the soil. Researchers say that 90 percent of termite infestations start with wood in the soil.
Plant trees or shrubs at least 24 inches away from your house.
Store firewood, lumber and mulch away from your house and off the ground.
What should you do if you find damage?
Do not disturb the termites by spraying them with an insecticide—that's a job for a professional. If you disturb them, the termites will likely move, making it more difficult for pest removal experts to evaluate the infestation when they arrive. You may not be able to locate the termites again until they damage more wood.
Contact your termite specialists for treatment. The technicians at Terminix can eliminate termite colonies and protect your home from future termite damage.
Evidence of Termite Damage to Foundation
One of the most common signs of a subterranean termite infestation is mud tubes – muddy, pencil thin tubes that allow termites to travel between their food source and nest.
Homeowners should also be aware of swarmers, which are winged termites, and look for any signs of wood damage that have a dark or blistered texture, indicating the presence of active termites.
Termite Mud Tubes
Mud tubes can be easily detectable when they appear across a concrete foundation or are visible on the surface. These tubes are a major mode of transportation for subterranean termites. However, they are sometimes less detectable because they can be built beneath floorboards and behind the baseboards of a home. They are also often painted over if painters don’t know what they are.
Other Signs of Termites
There are other signs of termites that you can look out for, like discarded wings, hollowed or damaged wood and blisters in wood flooring. Since you likely won’t see the actual termites in your home as they eat away at your wood structure, these are important signs to keep watch for. A professional will be better able to help you spot these signs.
Related > Learn more about signs of termites
Termite Damage Costs
The cost of termite damage in your home can be dependent on several factors, including how much damage has been done (which is largely dependent on how long the termites have been active), where the damage has been done and how your house is built.
How to Treat Termite Damage in Foundation
Subterranean termites often access a home through its foundation. While there are DIY methods available, they can often fall short. A trained termite specialist will know the effective treatment methods needed for your specific situation.
Benefits of Professional Terminix ® Termite Treatment
Termite infestations can leave homeowners with expensive damage and treatment costs. An effective way to help protect yourself from the costs of termite damage is to schedule a free termite inspection. After scheduling a free inspection with Terminix, a specialist will come to your home and inspect for termites and signs of damage. Depending on what is or is not found, the specialist may offer a treatment or protection plan that is customized to best fit your needs.*
Termite damage costs can be overwhelming. You don’t have to wait until you start to notice the signs of termite damage to act. By the time you notice these signs, extensive and expensive damage may already be done.