Wood is a very commonly used building material in homes because it’s warm and provides each house with a unique and comfortable atmosphere. Wood is also a common material used in most furniture and even some decorations. However, wooden materials have enemies, the biggest of which are termites. They are small, hide well and feast on wood until it’s completely destroyed. Learning how to prevent termites from invading is necessary for every homeowner because nobody is insured against that kind of damage. Proper termite prevention can help you avoid costly repairs, so here is some useful advice from pest control professionals:
Watch out for signs of a termite infestation
Termite infestations are very common and can be left unnoticed for a long time, which can be fatal. It’s important to observe for the most common signs these pesky pests leave around the house. Here are a few things to look out for:
Marks on wooden surfaces
Blisters, bubbles and all kinds of scars on your wooden flooring and walls can be a sign of a termite infestation. Subterranean termites approach the house from the subfloor, which can make the wooden floors appear as if they have water damage.
Drywood termites usually devour wood from the inside out, which leaves a very thin layer of timber on the outside or just the paint even. Therefore, if you knock on a wooden area and feel that the wood sounds hollow or papery, it’s a certain sign that termites have been there. Many homeowners find about the problem while they vacuum and the vacuum cleaner damages the hollow skirting boards.
Just like wasps, subterranean termites also leave mud tubes on occasions. You can notice small pencil-sized mud tubes closely to the ground around the foundations of the house, or around any wooden structure in your backyard, like a shed or your trees. Most termites require a certain level of humidity and precise temperature to survive. This is why they build tunnels, which are protected by mud tubes, which block out cool and dry air making your home a perfect environment for the swarm.
The goal of each termite colony is to grow and spread. Once the colony grows big enough, termite swarms form while mature termites prepare to leave the nest in the search of new places to start new colonies. As soon as these so-called “swarmers” go into the air, they shed their wings leaving small scale-like structures behind. If you look around, you can find small piles of wings caught in spider webs or on the floor or around your home’s foundations.
Strange sounds coming from the walls are another certain sign of termite infestations. Termites usually work during the night, so this is the best time to look around. The sound they make while they feed resembles clicking, and it’s quite noisy, if you place your ear close to the wall, you will probably hear them. If soldier termites feel the colony is in danger, they start banging their heads against the wood and shake their bodies, which is also a very distinctive sound.
Drywood termites usually leave droppings around the walls of the house, in the form of piles of small wooden pellets. These termites usually nest inside the wood and create tunnels and galleries in the material while they eat. They like to keep these tunnels clean, so they create small holes through which they remove the excrements. That leads to small piles resembling sawdust being spread around the house.
How to prevent termites in your home
Now that you’re familiar with the common signs of termite infestations, you’ll be able to observe your home properly and catch the problem before it causes irreversible damage. And if you want to make sure termites don’t find your property attractive, there are a few preventive steps you can make to make sure your home is protected from future termite attacks. Here are some of them:
Trim your trees and shrubbery
Tree branches hanging over the roof and shrubbery touching the windows and exterior walls are inviting the termites inside. They are the perfect shelter, they cause moisture build-up around the house, and act as bridges to your house for not only termites but rodents, raccoons and squirrels as well. Make sure all the trees and shrubs are trimmed and at least a few feet away from the house.
Keep the property foundations clean
The foundations of the house are a very common entry point for termites. You need to make sure they are clear of dirt and debris at all times. If you notice any holes or openings around the foundations, make sure they are properly filled and covered with strong material. Avoid using mulch around the house, we all know it looks cosy, but it also invites termites, rodents and all other kinds of pests. Pine needles are better than mulch because subterranean termites don’t like them as much. In any case, try to keep all organic materials at least 3 feet away from the foundations, just in case.
Prevent leaks and drainage issues
This includes the gutters, ducts, pipes and any drainage systems you might have around the house. All the places where water and dirt can gather are potential entry points for pests. The gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year, to remove any leaves and twigs brought by the wind. The roof area needs to be inspected for damage each year, and any small cracks and leaks need to be fixed right away. The ducts and the ventilation system also need regular checks and cleaning. Moreover, if you notice any cracked pipes and leaks, try to stop them as soon as possible and fix the affected area.
Keep firewood in check
If you have a fireplace in your home, you’ll need to have in mind that the firewood can be a good hiding spot for termites. Never store firewood near the property walls, always keep it a few feet away from the house, possibly in a shed. Also, make sure it’s stored in a dry place and keep it away from the ground, maybe on pellets or a special structure. Always burn the oldest wood first, because the longer you keep it, the bigger the chance of termites finding it attractive.
Get rid of clutter around the house
Domestic clutter can also invite the termites into your home. Just like all other pests, termites also like cluttered and poorly maintained areas to thrive in. To make the premises undesirable for them, you should maintain the premises clean and dry at all times. Paper clutter, such as old newspapers, magazines, documents and mail are also termite favourites, so avoid keeping such items around your house. Every house has piles of old papers lying around, so this is something to consider.
Invest in a dehumidifier
Humidity is your biggest enemy when it comes to battling termites. Fortunately, many modern air conditioners nowadays have the function to remove humidity from the room. If this is not an option for you, you should consider investing in a dehumidifier, especially if you live in a highly humid area.
Termites can be a real scourge for your home, but if you take all the needed preventative measures, and you observe your property closely for any signs of damage, you have a fighting chance against these pests.