Preventing Termites isn’t as Difficult as You Think
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If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably tirelessly researched and prepared for any crisis or emergency that could devastate your home. From natural disasters to fires, you’ve safety-proofed every inch of your little piece of heaven. You may even be ready for the next great plague. But there is one infestation that even the savviest of homeowners tend to overlook, that could wreak serious havoc on your home and family-termites. But don’t break out the some bombs just yet, there are some quick and easy ways to prep your home against termites and ensure that your wood stays secure and intact.
What Attracts Termites?
We all know that termites like wood, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your hardwood floors and refinished banister are the only things at risk. In fact, termites don’t really discriminate when it comes to their very wooden appetite. In addition to eating dried, moist, and dead leaves, termites attack cellulose, which can be found in:
- Cardboard (also attracts cockroaches)
You don’t need to start stripping your home of all wood and paper products. Termites are specifically partial to wood that they can have quick access to. Avoid allowing your wood to make contact with soil. It is a best practice to leave at least six inches between wood and soil.
Termites thrive in areas that are moist and warm, which makes summer renovations especially treacherous. Don’t let excess lumber pile up on the side of your house. If you have landscaping done, avoid large piles of leaves and branches, and make sure your landscaper removes any tree stumps that may be left on your property.
Keep moisture away from wood at all costs. Unwanted water can seep into your wood via:
- Rain gutters
- Underground pipes and irrigation
Careful maintenance of these items will ensure that your wood won’t be the victim of any seeping or flooding. If you keep potted plants on your patio, be sure to lay down a mat, or at least keep a watchful eye on proper drainage. It is also a good idea to fill any cracks you see in wood that might be susceptible to drips and leaks, because these are prime entrance areas for termites.
Another prime entry for termites is your underground crawl space. Be sure to monitor the area and ensure proper ventilation. Make sure that the space is equipped with vents that allow cross ventilation under your home. If possible, it is a good idea to cover the soil in your crawl space with moisture-locking tarp or barrier
The Different Kinds Of Termites
- Drywood termites
- Subterranean termites
- Formosan termites
Unsurprisingly drywood termites make their home in the dry wood. You should keep an extra careful eye out for these, since they can make their home in anything from your living room coffee table to your kids’ bunk beds. There are several species of drywood termites that can be found in the United States, and their colonies differ greatly from those of subterranean termites.
Subterranean termites are the most common termite in the United States. These are the guys that enter your home through cracks in wood. They usually attack from the ground up, so if you’re on the look out for these sneaky devils, check the crawl space and foundation first. Unlike the drywood variation, subterraneans are identified by their swarms and the tunnel-like homes they build.
Formosan termites are usually found in warmer areas of the U.S., and have the largest appetites of all termite species. They are also the fastest breeders of all termite species. Be on the look out for these guys in your walls and flooring.
If you’ve discovered a termite infestation in your home, you have two options:
- DIY insecticide treatment
- Professional treatments
If it seems like the infestation hasn’t taken a firm hold on your home’s foundation, you might be able to get away with treating the infected area with termite-specific insecticide (this can be found at most large home-improvement stores.) in order to get rid of them. Be careful, though, you don’t want to risk missing any parts of the colony and allowing the infestation to spread to other parts of your home.
Professional treatments, although costly, are usually guaranteed to strip your home of any termite infestation. I used Phoenix weed and pest control service once simply because I had no choice. It cost me over $1000. And that was a small infestation. Unfortunately, if the infestation has gotten too bad, you may have to evacuate during the treatment process. Before you sign any contracts, check your home insurance, some policies will cover at least part of your termite treatment costs.
As home developers grow more and more knowledgeable about termites, your home will get safer and safer. It is, however, a good idea to keep a watchful eye on the danger zones and always be prepared.