When buying a home, the last thing we want to see is evidence of termites. The good news is usually they can be taken care of and destroyed before it is too late. Having a termite inspection is important and the main purpose is to head off any chance of termite infestation. What is a termite inspection? It is also known as a wood-destroying organism inspection and involves inspecting rotten wood and looking for insects that damage wood.
Let’s take a look at why you need to know what a termite inspection is, what a termite looks like, how to prepare for the inspection, what it is and where the inspector will check, length of the inspection, inspecting the attic, how to treat and prevent them, other maintenance, and when to call a professional.
Why You Need to Know What a Termite Inspection Is
You need to know what a termite inspection is because if you find what you think might be termites in the home, you need to call a professional. The professional will come out and inspect the property. Additionally, termites and other wood destroying organisms can destroy the structure of the home and make it unsafe.
Termites are in all climates and thrive in very warm climates. Here in Florida, it is important to maintain a termite contract on your property in order to afford you insurance coverage, should you have an infestation. It also allows for your local pest control company to monitor the threat of termites to your home.
What a Termite Looks Like
There are three different levels of hierarchy within a termite colony: workers, soldiers, and reproductives. All of them are creamy white and are translucent looking. Often compared to a grain of rice, the reproductives are “swarmers” and have a pair of even sized wings and often are mistaken for flying ants.
The workers look similar to the “swarmers,” but they are smaller and have no wings. The soldiers are also similar, except for their over-sized heads and large crushing mandibles. Here in Florida, the drywood termites are very popular in the homes.
How to Prepare for the Termite Inspection
The first step in preparing for a termite inspection is to clear all areas where the inspector might need to access. So, removing the items under your sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms, and pulling any furniture about two feet away from the walls. This will allow the inspector room to work and check all wooded areas.
It is also important to provide easy access to the attic and crawl spaces. So, clearing the entrances to both areas as well as removing any items that would prevent the inspector from accessing the entire area.
Lastly, trimming your plants and bushes away from the foundation and wall of the exterior portion of the home. This will allow the inspector the opportunity to get to the ground space without poking or prodding by the shrubbery.
Here is an example of a termite inspection in New Jersey:
Most initial termite inspections are about $85. This allows the pest control company the opportunity to survey the property and recommend the right plan for you, the homeowner. Once, the initial inspection is complete, companies will generally offer a contract range of $200 to $900 depending on the homes needs. A typical treatment is $560, which equates to $3 to $16 per linear foot.
What is a Termite Inspection and Where the Inspector Will Check
Termite inspections are based off visual evidence that a wood structure has suffered internal or external damage. The inspector will take a thorough look at all areas of the interior and exterior of the home. The inspection will vary based on the location of the home.
The inspector will check all crawl spaces, basements (if you have one), attics, or any sub-space within the home. They will also check your baseboards, window frames, door frames, cabinets and closest as well. An inspector will focus on bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms, due to the plumbing connections to the ground itself. Termites utilize the subterranean access of the pipes to gain entry to the home and begin enjoying your wood structures.
Next the inspector will examine the exterior of the home and look for cracks or crevices, insect mud tubes, as well as damage to any wood structures on the exterior. Once the exterior inspection is complete, the inspector will turn his or her attention to the neighboring yards, to determine if there are any signs of termite activities.
Length of the Termite Inspection
The length of time that it typically takes an inspector to review your home for termites, varies based on the size of the home. On average, termite inspections can take 30 to 45 minutes, however, it is not unusual for an inspection to last up to 2 hours. The larger the home and the bigger the crawl spaces, will determine how long an inspection would take on your home.
Inspecting the Attic is Important During a Termite Inspection
Although termites stay closer to the ground, it is the inspectors job to research what other wood destroying organisms might be present. For example, carpenter bees or ants might also be present in the wood. Identifying them in the inspection is also very important. The attic space has a majority of the wood framing in most homes.
Climates In Which You Will See Termites
Termites can live in any climate and can survive cold temperatures. Like other organisms, they adapt and can go into a state of hibernation. Unfortunately, they do thrive here in Florida and must be taken care of. They are common pests here in our state, but don’t have to be with some TLC in the home.
How to Treat Termites
There are multiple ways to treat for termites. Chemical treatments are the most common and reliable types available. The goal is to maintain a continuous barrier of chemical between the termite colonies and the wood structures in the home. This is done by placing an insecticide specific to termite control in the soil around the foundation of the home. Technicians trench into the soil and also will drill holes into the concrete block.
Another way to combat the termite colony is with a baiting system. This is a popular method to treat against termites under ground. The idea is, each bait system has a cellulose (wood material) already placed in it, and this wood material attracts the termites.
A chemical inhibitor is then replaced in the bait station so that when the termites return it is consumed by the termites and taken back to their colonies to share. This chemical inhibitor prevents growth and shortly after the sharing of the chemical, the colony will die.
How to Prevent Termites in the Future
The top ways that are recommended for preventing termites in the future are as follows:
- Getting rid of excess moisture – moisture is a breeding ground for termites and in the home will also cause mold or mildew to grow.
- Keeping your landscaping clean
- Repairing any roof or attic issues – taking care of these is important because other bugs and rodents can get into the home if there is an issue.
- Saying no to cardboard – cardboard is a feeder for termites and other pests.
- Keep your eyes on the signs of a potential infestation
- Schedule an annual inspection by a professional
We have a termite treatment program if you have a reoccurrence or need more information.
At least twice a year, conduct home maintenance in your home. If you are in the basement, check to make sure that the sump pump is working effectively and draining the water out of the home and into the yard to run off. Also check that the basement floor drain isn’t backing up.
Check around the home. Take a look at the stucco and clean it. If you find a crack in the stucco, you will know by the size of it if you need to contact a professional. Doing this, you can see if there are any issues that need to be taken care of. Also, take a look at the HVAC unit and see if it is leaking any water. If it is, there are a few things you can do or call a professional.
When to Call a Professional
If you are purchasing a home, a termite inspection is recommended, in addition to the home inspection. If you are in an existing home, call when you notice live termites, mud tubes, or wood damage. Calling in a professional is the best way to guarantee that you are free of termites and can rest easy that your home structures are in tact.
Determining if you have a termite problem is not an easy thing to notice by the untrained eye. If you are concerned about the cost of a termite inspection, consider this: The cost of taking the necessary steps to insure that your home is protected from termites outweighs the cost of repairs due to lack of action against any termite threat.
Maintenance and regularly inspecting your home are key components for insuring a termite free home. Atkinson Home Inspection offers termite control services in Clermont, The Villages, and Orlando.