Learn how to prevent termites and add long-term value to your home
Termites are the ninjas of the insect world. They sneak in undetected, hide unseen, and wreak havoc before you even realize they're in your home.
Termites can do extensive damage to your property, ruining structural supports, floors, framing, and even your roof. They can grow into multiple colonies and continue eating away at your home for years without being noticed. But is there any way to prevent termites and termite damage?
The best way to handle termite damage is to prevent termites to begin with. Since termites live in every part of the United States and because they can reproduce so quickly, there is no place safe from the threat of the silent destroyer.
5 Ways to Prevent Termites From Destroying Your Home
1. Clear old brush
Termites eat the plant fibers in wood and brush. Any termite food near your home creates a path for them to eat into your basement, framing, porch supports, or structural timbers. Keep the area near your home free of dead tree branches, decaying plants, leaves, and mulch so you aren't inviting termites into your home.
2. Close entry points
Thoroughly inspect the foundation of your home. Repair any holes or cracks to eliminate an entry point for termites.
3. Keep firewood away from your home
Store firewood and lumber (as well as recycling and compost materials like egg crates and newspaper) away from your home. According to Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, termites can use them as paths over treated soil and directly into your home.
4. Fix leaks
Leaks can soften the wood in your home—especially leaks in the basement that may go unnoticed for a long time. That soft wood is especially attractive to termites. In fact, Scott Sidler writes on The Craftsman Blog that "oftentimes you’ll have a colony of termites set up shop right at the spot where the wood has been softened up from months or years of a leak."
5. Keep moisture away from your foundation
Termites need moisture to survive. Along with fixing leaks, maintain your gutters and downspouts so rain is directed away from your home. This has the added benefit of keeping your basement from flooding during heavy rains.
What to Do if You Get Termites
Because termites eat the evidence of an infestation, you may have to look carefully for signs of damage. Pest control experts Orkin point out that termite damage often mimics water damage. "Outward signs of termite damage include buckling wood, swollen floors and ceilings, areas that appear to be suffering from slight water damage, and visible mazes within walls or furniture."
Other signs of a termite infestation include mud tubes, which are little termite tunnels that may appear on pipes or cinderblock walls. You may also see termite wings or termite droppings.
If you do notice termites, it's critically important to work to eliminate them right away. You can call a pest control company or try a do-it-yourself treatment. However, most experts agree that because termites can do so much damage and reproduce so quickly, you're better off hiring a professional to do the job. If you do it yourself and fail to eradicate the entire colony (or colonies), you're only putting your home at risk for more damage.
How do you select a pest control company? Like any other service provider, getting recommendations is a good starting point. It's also smart to get two or three estimates.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends making sure your service technician is a "certified, licensed commercial pesticide applicator," or is working "under the direct supervision of a certified applicator."
Arrow Termite and Pest Control Company of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, suggests that most reputable termite control companies will offer a guarantee and include follow-up inspections in their contracts.
Most companies offer an initial treatment, then a monthly retainer, where an inspector will occasionally come to check for signs of termites and spot treat an area if needed. The national average for initially hiring a termite control service is $542, according to Home Advisor. The actual price will vary based on the square footage of your home and how easy or difficult it is to inspect.
A treatment for termites typically includes an application of a liquid termiticide, wood treatments, and termite baits. In short, it's a big job, but keeping termites out of your home is a good investment for the long-term quality and value of your home.
Another excellent way to ensure that your home is protected is to make sure your home insurance policy is up to date with the coverage you need. Call your Pekin Insurance agent today to get the coverage you need.