Termites are hidden pests — difficult to detect because of where they live and find food — that can cause major damage to your home's structure. You can have thousands of termites living in your walls with little to no sign of their presence. However, all the while, they're chewing through the wood, potentially leaving behind damage that's expensive to repair.
If you think there may be termites in your walls, it's important to take action quickly before they cause further damage to your home. But how can you know for sure if these tiny terrors have taken up residence in your walls? Read on to learn what to look for.
How to tell if you have termites in your walls
You may have a serious infestation without ever seeing a single insect, so it's important to be on the lookout for warning signs of termites. Here are some to be mindful of:
Subterranean termites dig under the foundation of your home and enter from below. These termites survive underground but are hindered by sunlight and dry air. To protect themselves from the elements — as well as from predators — while they make their way into your home, they'll construct mud tubes. These tubes are made of dirt and are about the width of a pencil. Look for them around the foundation of your home.
Mud tubes can last for a while, so they aren't a definite sign of an active infestation. To tell if a tube is active, you can break off the top piece of the tube on the ground and keep an eye on it for the next few days. You may see the termites moving in the tube as soon as you open the tube which also means it is an active tube.
Paint bubbling or peeling
If you notice paint or wallpaper peeling or bubbling on your walls, the first thing that may come to mind is water damage. However, this can also be a sign of a termite infestation. Like other living things, termites need moisture to survive. They can track some moisture into your home, which can cause a reaction between the moisture and painted surfaces.
While it isn't a sure sign of a termite infestation, bubbling or peeling paint is a sign of moisture, which could indicate an infestation. In addition, if the termites eat the wood behind the paint, it may also cause the bubble to crack because there's nothing holding it in place.
Pinholes in the wall
Tiny pin-sized holes in your drywall could be an indication of a termite infestation, as these can indicate places where they may have eaten through the wall. Subterranean termites will fill in these holes with soil, while drywood termites won't. These holes may be exploratory or used to kick frass out of a tunnel.
Damage to wood paneling or trim
As termites love to eat anything and everything wood, this can include the wood paneling or trim along your floors and walls. So, naturally, as colonies spread throughout the home, you may detect damage to the trim of your walls and within or around the paneling. You may even be able to see faint lines on wood or drywall that indicate where their intricate maze of tunnels are. Such an intricate maze behind the walls can suggest the infestation has already begun to cause structural damage.
Tap gently on the walls in areas where you suspect an infestation. Do they sound hollow? Hollow-sounding walls can suggest extensive damage, since the presence of the sound implies significant amounts of destroyed wood. In extreme cases, you may even notice some crumbling when you tap on the walls, so do this carefully.
Houses with extreme or long-lasting termite infestations may experience structural damage that causes a home to shift or settle. Houses that settle may experience doors or windows that jam or don't close properly.
Monitor mulch piles
If you have mulch around the outside of your home, its moist texture and cellulose-rich contents may attract termites. If you do use mulch around the exterior of your home, be sure that it does not make direct contact with the foundation of your home so as to avoid potentially attracting termites.
What to do if you have termites in your walls
If you find that you do have termites in your walls, or you spot any of the signs above that suggest you might, it's important to know the next steps. Different species of termites require different treatment methods. So it's necessary to identify which particular species is living in your home.
If you have an active infestation, this isn't the time to use DIY methods. Call in a team of professionals to take care of your termite problem and prevent it from worsening. Fortunately, termite control professionals are trained to recognize different species and will know what's best to treat your particular infestation effectively and as efficiently as possible.
It's important to try to treat the problem as soon as you can. As infestations grow, they'll cause more and more damage, which can be dangerous as well as costly.
Get a free termite inspection
Of course, if you have signs of termites in your walls, it's time to call in the professionals before the problem gets worse. But what if you're not seeing these classic signs of infestation? Because termite activity can be hard to spot, it can remain undetected for a while. That's why it's crucial to schedule an inspection with a Terminix® termite professional who is trained to look for warning signs of termite activity — regardless of whether or not you've seen anything suspicious.
With Terminix, you can count on us to not just detect signs of activity; we'll also be able to identify the specific termite invader and provide a customized treatment plan to nix the termites for good.