You should inspect your home once a year for termite infestations. Doing your own termite inspection at home can definitely seem intimidating but the following tips can help you perform a thorough and successful termite inspection right at home.
We do recommend you get a professional inspection every few years especially if you have a home that has wood that comes into contact with the ground or if your home has areas that are difficult to inspect.
- Bright flashlight
- Pocket knife or flathead screwdriver
Inspecting for termites can be a dirty job. You may want to purchase and wear a pair of disposable coveralls
and a pair of gloves
. A bright flashlight will come in handy to light up dim or dark areas and a flat headed screwdriver will allow you to probe wood to find weakness that is indicative of termite infestations.
When inspecting for a termite infestation there are a few things you will be looking for such as mud tubes, damaged wood and/or live termites.
- Mud tubes. Subterranean termites will often make their nest in the soil (moisture source) and then build highways called "mud tubes" that run vertically or otherwise to connect the nest to a wooden food source. Mud tubes are a definite sign of termite infestation, but the absence of mud tubes does not mean that no infestations exist, since there are other ways that termites reach food sources.
- Damaged wood. Wood with sustained termite damage might look "crushed" at structural joints. If you tap the damaged wood with the end of the screwdriver or knife, you will hear a dull thud. Wood suspected of termite damage can be further inspected by probing the surface with the screwdriver or pocket knife to expose tunnels. Subterranean termites excavate tunnels that run parallel to the grain.
- Piles of wings. Before swarmers enter the next stage of development, they will shed their wings which are often left in scattered piles near windows or light sources.
- Buckling or bubbling paint or brittle drywall.
Potential Problem Areas
These are the areas you will need to inspect very closely for signs of termite infestation. Keep in mind that termites are typically found at or near ground level.
- Wooden elements of construction in basements and crawl spaces
- Window sills and frames (particularly in the basement), support posts, sub floors, supporting piers, joists, and wooden decks or porches.
- Areas where concrete elements meet wood, such as in steps, slabs, or porches
- Cracks in brick construction, expansion joints, or cement where termites might have gained entry
- Wood piles and debris near the foundation including tree stumps, exterior basement window and door frames, and fence posts.
If you still suspect you have termites and the inspection guide above did not lead you to a termite infestation, it is quite possible you have drywood termites. Please refer to our Drywood inspection guide
for more tips.