The best way to avoid termite damage is to prevent an infestation in the first place with proven termite prevention measures. How can a Southern California homeowner prevent termite infestations in their home? It turns out there are quite a few things you can do to take your home off the termite radar. Many of these termite deterrents are easy to implement and most of them are inexpensive, keeping your termite prevention cost low.
Before we talk about the best way to prevent termites, the first thing to do is to think like a termite and consider the conditions and environment that a typical Southern California termite loves.
- Termites love wood.
Studies of termite consumption and digestion show that these pests actually have bacterial protozoa living in their stomachs, which makes digesting cellulose and converting it to energy easy. Although termites will consume other foods, cellulose is going to be their #1 choice. And that means wood. It’s that desire that conflicts with our 1st choice of building materials, which is also wood.
- Termites love water.
Nothing survives without water, and termites are no exception. But termites need water for more than quenching their thirst; they need it to keep their delicate bodies from drying out. Termite’s soft bodies don’t retain moisture like most pests, so they need a constant supply of moisture from the soil, clogged gutters, leaking pipes, and damp wood.
- Termites love dirt.
Southern California is home to subterranean termite species that build their colonies in the ground. They love dirt and build tunnel systems extending down to three feet below the surface. The dark, damp conditions in soil are perfect for keeping subterranean termites hydrated, and they provide on-demand supplies for building mud tubes from the ground up to your house.
What are mud tubes? Mud tubes, or tunnels, aren’t the same as the labyrinth of tunnels termites use to move around the colony. These mud tunnels are not excavated; they’re built using soil to gain access to your home. These mud tubes are one of the most obvious signs you have an infestation.
Subterranean termites build mud tunnels to get from the colony to their food source — your home’s wooden framing and other materials. The mud tunnels keep the termites protected with plenty of moisture while helping them avoid dangerous sunlight. You can find mud tubes built along concrete slabs, up walls, on foundation piers, and other exterior areas. These crudely constructed tubes are usually about the size of a pencil, and it’s not unusual to see multiple mud tubes in one area.
So with these termite must-haves in mind, here are some termite prevention questions to determine your risk for a termite infestation:
Are there water leaks in your home or water sources on your property?
As we talked about, termites love water; since they are small, they don’t need a lot. If the water source comes from your home, termites don’t have to work as hard. More time for eating and making more termites! However, if there is no water source, this can be very discouraging to your termite home shopper. Eliminate leaks or other sources of water within your home that termites can tap into (pun intended). And it’s not just in the house. Eliminate any standing or pooling water from around your home as well.
Are there brush and heavy growth around your structures?
In Southern California, this not only increases the risk for termite infestation but for fire danger as well. Vegetation can create areas of intense moisture, which is necessary for colony survival. Termites like it wet, so try to disappoint them as much as possible.
Any excess building materials or firewood around the house?
Remember that wood is their first love. Scrap wood touching the ground is a Valentine‘s Day card to hungry termites. If your property is not large enough for wood storage away from the house, put something beneath the wood to prevent direct access to the termites. Thick concrete slabs or heavy-duty metal stands can be used to raise the wood off of the ground.
Are you using mulch near your home?
Mulch is the, “Are you kidding me?” food to a termite. It’s the hat trick of termite love: wood and water on dirt. For a termite, it just doesn’t get any better. The qualities of mulch that make it attractive for the garden are the very qualities that attract termites. If mulch is placed near the exterior of your home, it is only a small step for a colony to move into your walls.
Instead of wood mulch, use a newer rubber mulch or other ground covering not made with cellulose. Regardless of the type of mulch you choose, never spread a ground covering all the way up to the foundation or lowest level of siding on a home. It’s tempting because it gives a more finished look, but it’s also the perfect cover for termites to invade your home without you knowing it.
Termite Prevention Tips
Termite prevention isn’t complicated — it takes knowledge, awareness, and a little detective work. If you want to know how to prevent termites, you need to know how to make your home and yard as unattractive to termites as possible.
- Seal any cracks or holes within the foundation of your home and repair weather stripping and loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows. This will help prevent easy access for termites and other unwelcome visitors, as well as make your home more energy-efficient.
- Keep your gutters flowing freely and guide water away from the house with downspouts, splash blocks, and drainage pipe if necessary. Clogged gutters create a moist, cellulose-rich environment for termites right next to some of your home’s wooden framing — and pools of water along your foundation are just asking for trouble.
- Remove any dead trees, old stumps, or roots in your yard. As these items decay, they attract termites to the area by providing a food source. As the colony grows, the next stop will be your house.
- Don’t bury waste lumber or wood scraps in your yard or allow them to pile up unless you want to send an irresistible invitation to hungry termites.
- Repair leaking water pipes and divert condensation lines from exterior AC units away from your home.
- Make sure your home is properly ventilated, including your attic and crawl space, because adequate airflow prevents the buildup of moisture.
- Make a habit of inspecting the foundation of your home and your crawl space for mud tubes and be aware of signs inside your home that may indicate an infestation.
- Try to keep about an 18-inch distance between any wood on your home and the soil.
- Understand when swarming termites pose a threat and what to do about them.
- And here’s the most important prevention tip: Periodically, get your home inspected for termite damage. A once-a-year inspection can save your home with early detection.
If we don’t identify a termite infestation in your home, your Hi-Tech termite control specialist can recommend termite prevention treatments to help stop termites from coming in.
Even using the best termite prevention tips, you could still find your home under attack. Get rid of termites in your home with Hi-Tech. Hi-Tech Termite Control serves folks throughout Southern California, including homeowners in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County — reach out to us and start protecting your home against termites today!