Prevent Termites From Destroying Your Home
Termites are incredibly destructive creatures that can cause billions of dollars of damage in the US each year. This article will show how to prevent termites from destroying your home.
Control Dampness to Prevent Termites
Termites love damp environments. If you gain nothing else from this article, it should be this core-concept. Termites Love Damp Environments! What does this mean exactly? The preferred environment for a termite to make its home is a dark and moist environment. The quickest way to prevent termites is to ensure that your home doesn’t accumulate excess moisture.
It’s impossible to completely eliminate all forms of moisture from your house, but by focusing on a few key areas inside, outside, and your outer walls.
Outside Termite Prevention
Soil + Wood = Prime Termite Real Estate
The closer a termite nest is to your home, the easier for them to get inside. Ensuring your yard is safe from termites goes a long way to protecting your actual house. Below are 5 tips to prevent termites from making a hope in your yard.
1. Tree Stumps
An old tree stump in your yard is a termite’s dream buffet! The rotting wood in a tree stump creates an ideal damp environment for termites to thrive and feast. The best way to prevent termites getting into your old tree stumps is to get rid of the stumps altogether.
2. Firewood Piles
Nothing beats a warm wood fire on a cold day, however your woodpile, if not properly checked could become a home for termites. In order to prevent this, keep your woodpile away from the walls of your house and keep the pile raised. A great place for termites is where the wood meets the soil. To prevent this, make sure that your woodpile is raised off of the soil a bit. This also is a great way of preventing the wood at the bottom of the pile from rotting.
If you do notice some of your firewood beginning to rot, get rid of it! It could quickly attract termites.
Whatever you do, never store your firewood against your home foundation.
3. Brush Piles
The bottom of a brush pile, where the wood touches the soil, is a perfect environment for termites to call home. Try to avoid keeping brush piles around for too long. The longer the brush sits there, the more appealing it is as a termite haven.
If having a long-standing brush pile is unavoidable, make sure that is as far away from your home as possible.
Although great for your garden mulch is also great for termites. Mulch is both high in wood chipping and moisture, two things that termites love! If you are going to use garden mulch make sure that it is used sparingly, especially if you’ve had termite problems in the past. It is also important to keep the mulch away from you home’s foundation.
Always keep a little bit of a distance from your garden mulch and your home. After all, although not ideal, it is better to have termites in your garden than in your home!
5. Decks and Fences
Another place where wood can come into contact with soil and create an ideal environment for termites is with decks and fences. When building a new deck or fence, try to keep as much wood away from the soil as possible. The use of metal fence posts or cinderblocks can be very helpful. Consider the use of other building materials or, be sure to use termite-resistant treated wood. For lattice-work on your deck, make sure that it is sufficiently off of the ground and not in direct contact with the earth.
The key to preventing termites around your deck or fence is by providing sufficient barriers between wood and the earth. These barriers can take many forms such as: concrete, chemical treatment of the wood, polyurethane covers under your deck or different material for your fence.
Outside Termite Prevention Summary
Preventing termites from nesting in your yard boils down to a few core concepts:
- Avoid damp environments for your wood
- Reduce contact between untreated wood and soil as much as possible
- If unavoidable, keep damp environments with wood and soil as far away from your home as possible
Protecting Your Home Exterior from Termites
With your yard covered for termite prevention, it is now time to look at your home’s exterior and possible ways to keep these destructive critters from entering your house.
The foundation, walls and roof of your house is designed to keep the elements (and termites) out and leave you protected. Many areas of your home exterior are ideal gateways for termites to get inside your house and wreak havoc. Below are a few possibilities.
Check Your Foundation
Termites love damp environments are more likely to get into your house through areas where the foundation is constantly damp or wet. Always divert water away from your foundation through proper gutters, downspouts and splash blocks. Check your pipes for leaks and make sure that the areas around your foundation is sloped away from your house to avoid any water accumulation.
Keep an eye on any lawn sprinklers and where puddles are forming. It is best to have these puddles away from your foundation. Not only will it prevent termites from nesting close to your house, but it also protects against many other foundation issues that can become a massive headache and expense.
Inspect Your Roof
While much of this article has been about the dangers of wood coming into contact with soil for termite prevention, your roof might seem like a bit of an odd place for termites. It isn’t.
Termites fly when searching for a new nest. An unprotected roof can be an ideal entrance point for termites into your house.
Ways to protect against termites entering your place through your roof are:
- Check and repair broken roof tiles
- Be on the lookout for moisture in your roof
You’ll want to make sure that your roof is safe from termites by preventing a way for them to get in. This might sound simple, but quickly fixing a broken tile, or filling in cracks in your roof/attic to keep it dry can be a little effort that saves a lot of time and money in the future.
Reduce Moisture in Crawl Spaces
If your home has a crawl space it is imperative to protect this crawl space from termites. The humidity in the crawl space, combined with the earth and easy access via your crawl space vents.
Ensure that your crawl space does not acquire excess moisture and is well vented. If the crawl space foundation is earth, adding a polyethylene vapor barrier will help reduce moisture.
It is also wise to periodically check your vents to make sure that they are in good working order and free from any obstructions such as leaves.
Inside Termite Prevention
Having secured the yard and outside of your home against termites, it’s time to focus on the interior of your home. Let’s start from the top and work our way down.
There are main areas of termite concern in your attic: wooden beams and boxes.
If you have exposed wooden beams in your attic, they are at risk of becoming termite food. You can check your wooden beams by periodically pressing against the beams. If the beam feels spongy in any way, this could be a sign of termite damage.
You can protect your beams by sealing them with a termite treatment spray yourself or by calling an exterminator to give a thorough check of your attic and home.
Cardboard boxes are a great storage solution, but not when it comes to termites. Storing old books and papers in cardboard boxes in your attic can become a termite haven if humidity levels are high in your attic. The cardboard can absorb moisture and create a damp environment that makes a great home and food source for termites.
To combat this, ditch the cardboard boxes and use plastic storage containers instead.
If the conditions are correct, termites can make themselves at home in your living room. Wooden flooring, baseboards and furniture are all areas to keep an eye on for any unwanted termite house guests.
Being close to the ground, wooden flooring can act as an enticing home for termites coming up through the foundation. Always keep an eye out on your wooden flooring for problematic areas. Seeing small piles of sawdust on your floor is a good indicator that termites have taken to your floor.
Eliminate any excess moisture on your flooring and quickly fix areas where the wood might be starting to rot.
When building a new home, it is best to install a termite barrier from the start to keep the termites at bay.
Another great spot for termites to call home is in your living room baseboards. Surrounding your walls and on the ground, the baseboards provide a home and food for termites.
Be sure to keep your baseboards well maintained. Keep them well sealed and free from moisture and rot.
Old Wooden Furniture
You might want to reconsider keeping that old wooden chair that you’ve inherited from your Great Aunt many years ago. It can be an enticing meal for termites!
As with the other aspects of your living room, the key is to keep wooden furniture well maintained and tend to any rot immediately. Keep the furniture away from the walls and humid corners. If you live in a termite prone environment, perhaps it’s time to consider other materials for your furnishings.
On way that termites can enter your home is through your dryer’s vent. The heat and humidity blowing out of your dryer vent can create a warm environment for termites. Always be sure that your vent is clean and unobstructed.
Although not as common as wood, termites also eat cotton clothing. Be mindful not to leave damp clothing in your dryer as it can provide a great snack for termites after they’re journeyed in through the vent.
There are many areas in the kitchen that can create an ideal environment for termites. Dark cupboards and small leaks under the sink can provide a cozy home.
In the kitchen, be sure to line your wooden cupboards with a plastic cupboard lining to protect the wood from getting too moist and rotting. Moist wood is a termite’s dream!
The same goes for under the sink. Fix any leaks immediately as a leaky faucet can drip and rot the wood under the sink. This dark, damp environment is a great place for termites to set up camp.
Similar to the attic, the garage is storage area in your home that is very easy to “set and forget” old cardboard boxes. The garage is an ideal entrance point for termites to invade your home. It’s generally not heated or cooled like other areas of your home and can create a damp environment for termites.
Ways to prevent termites from parking themselves in your garage is to make sure that your garage storage is not termite friendly. To this extent:
- Replace Wooden Storage Units With Metal Ones
- Use Plastic Containers Instead Of Cardboard Ones
- Keep Humidity In Check
Changing a few ways you store items in your garage can make the difference between inviting termites into your home or keeping them far, far away.
This has been an extensive article of how to protect your home against termites. Although it is very detailed in protecting your yard, exterior and interior of your home against termites, all of the advice follows a simple rule of thumb:
Reduce dark, humid environments with wood as much as possible
By depriving termites of fertile nesting grounds and food sources, you greatly increase your chances of never having to deal with termites.
If by chance, your home has been infested with termites, it is best to call an exterminator immediately to limit the damage they have done.