Searching for a new house is exciting, yet it is also a little intimidating when you've never inspected houses before. At first glance, many homes are perfect on the surface since a coat of fresh paint covers many things. Yet, it’s important to look deeper to make sure that bigger problems are not lurking beneath the surface.
Termites are a common problem homeowners face, and it’s possible that even the current homeowner is unaware of the infestation. Since termite invasions quickly destroy the wooden materials in a house and weaken its structural integrity, it’s important to know how to recognize an infestation when you're house shopping.
Watch for Swarmers
Reproducing termites emerge from their nest during swarming season to find new mates and establish additional nests in buildings. Typically, swarming occurs during the spring season, but it can happen anytime of the year. Drywood termites especially like to swarm after a rainfall in the early morning or evening hours.
Look for Discarded Wings on Windowsills
Swarming termites have wings that they shed once they have finished mating. For this reason, you may notice discarded wings along windowsills and other areas of the house where termites tend to swarm. You can identify termite wings by the pile that the swarm tends to create along with the oblong shape of the wing itself.
Knock on Wood
Termites prefer to be out of view, and they will build their colonies deep within the wood structures of a house. Often, the surface of infested wood will be smooth, yet there are many tunnels existing within the building materials. Since you can't break open a rafter or wall, simply knock on the wood to see if you hear a hollow sound.
Inspect for Damaged Paint on Exterior Surfaces
Termites are quite small, and it only takes a dime-sized crack on the surface of the paint for one to make its way into the wood. Therefore, you should be concerned about any chips or cracks that you see in the exterior paint over wood siding. This doesn't always mean that there are termites, but it’s still possible they are there.
Check for Mud Tubes
Subterranean termites use mud tunnels as protection as they travel from their nesting site to food sources. These mud tunnels require moisture, so it’s important to avoid placing materials such as mulch near your home. You can also easily identify these pencil-width tunnels by looking at the walls and foundation.
Be Alert For Frass
Subterranean termites turn their excrement into mud tunnels, but drywood termites push their feces out of their galleries. For this reason, you will find a dark-brown, powdery substance located near the entrances of termite tunnels. Often, the amount of frass found is indicative of the size and longevity of an infestation.
Feel for Warped Doors and Windows
At first, it might just seem like the house has shifted since it has been built, but doors and windows that are hard to close sometimes indicate a termite problem. This is because termites consume moisture from the wooden materials used in the frame that causes it to warp.
Beware the White Ant
It’s rare to see a non-swarming termite unless you really know where to look. However, you may occasionally discover one that is out of their nest. Non-winged termites resemble ants, except they tend to be cream colored or transparent. Since there is not a white ant species, it's a pretty good bet that you see a termite.
Discovering a termite infestation doesn't always mean that you must mark your dream house off the list. However, you should know what you are getting into regarding treatment and possible repairs. When you are house shopping, Cliff's Pest Control, Inc. is always ready to perform an inspection, so contact us today.