Termites can destroy your home from the inside out, and unless you invest in yearly termite inspections, it may be a good idea to learn about the signs of termite damage. While it’s true most termites do their best to conceal their activity inside and outside your home, there are many signs if you know where to look.
What Does Termite Damage Look Like?
Termites are tricky and can be difficult to find before they’ve done a lot of damage that will inevitably require costly repairs. Each year, termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage, which is typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance policies. This is why you should know the signs of termites, what to do if you see damage, and who to call for a termite inspection and treatment.
Termite swarmers are one of the most obvious signs of termites. Even though they don’t cause damage, they are a sure indicator of a termite colony near or in your home. In California, the two most prevalent termite species are subterranean termites and drywood termites. While there are many similarities in behavior and the destruction they cause, there are some distinct differences between the degree of termite damage they cause.
How to Spot Termite Damage
Signs of termite damage in homes can often be hard to spot without a professional inspection. But termites of all species leave plenty of evidence if you know where to look and what to look for.
Drywood termites infest garages, attics, wall cavities, and other areas and create galleries in the wood as they consume and destroy it. Signs of termite damage can often be found in foundations, door and window frames, and other areas near wood framing.
- Signs of drywood termites and damage include termite frass, which is fecal matter that looks like sawdust. Small piles of termite frass on furniture or floors can indicate termites in your ceiling and roof. Using a flashlight, check your ceiling for tiny, pin-prick sized holes. They will usually start in the corners and work their way to the center of the room.
- Drywood termites destroy wood from the inside out, leaving a thin layer of wood surface, paint, or drywall. If you suspect an area has termite wood damage, a tap on the wall or ceiling will sound hollow. You may also spot obvious termite damage in drywall during the swarming season.
- Warped windows and doors that are tough to open and close may indicate a drywood termite problem. The damage termites leave behind when consuming wood and tunneling can cause wood to swell and become warped.
Subterranean termites live in the soil instead of wood, but they easily invade your home and can cause destruction for years. Subterranean termites are far more destructive than drywood termites, so knowing the signs of termite damage is critical.
- Mud tubes are one of the sure signs of subterranean termites. The termites forage for food using these tubes to go from the colony in the ground to the structure of your home. These tubes are most obvious when they are on concrete foundations and other exterior surfaces.
- Subterranean infestation and damage is a likely cause of blisters in wood flooring and other wood inside your home. These termites eat spring wood and are averse to light and heat, so the damage they cause can go undetected for years. Like investigating drywood termite damage, you can detect the subterranean termite galleries by tapping the wood to identify soft spots.
- Subterranean termites also take advantage of any shortcuts and will often build their tubes along tree roots. Because a large colony means plenty of construction and foraging activity, you may even see mounds of mud near your home, in your yard, and other areas. All this could be evidence of an active colony and termite damage.
Termite Damage in Your House
Termite Damage in Drywall
Termites feed on cellulose, so any building materials containing this naturally occurring substance like framing, trim, and drywall are fair game for hungry termites. In the case of drywall, it’s not the gypsum in drywall they’re after; it’s the paper that covers the sheets.
Two of the most common signs of termites behind drywall are tiny holes created to eliminate frass and mud tubes that usually appear near the ceiling. Inevitably, termites in drywall will discover the abundance of structural wood behind it and begin working their way up and down the framing of a home.
Termite Damage in Hardwood Floors
Termites love the soft wood they find in joists and other structural members, but if they’re hungry enough, your beautiful hardwood floors will do just fine. Consider how close your hardwood floor is to the floor joists and subfloor, and it’s easy to understand how termites can naturally infest the floor and the rest of your home. Because termites destroy wood from the inside out, termite damage in hardwood floors isn’t usually evident until termites have done significant damage.
But there are signs you can look for to get ahead of the damage. When termites eat away the interior of hardwood flooring, it weakens the wood and the bonds between individual flooring pieces. The result is often squeaky floors, soft spots, or buckling. If you experience any of these signs of termite infestations, tap the area with a metal spoon. If you hear a hollow sound, you could have an infestation.
Termite Damage Outside of Your Home
Termite Tree Damage
When you’re inspecting the trees in your yard for termites, look for soft spots and latticework-looking scars. Check any suspect trees near the soil by tapping on areas of the trunk with a screwdriver. If you find a soft spot where the screwdriver easily penetrates the tree, you might have a termite infestation.
Because Carpenter ants can infest trees also, it’s essential to understand the differences. Signs of Carpenter ants are hollowed-out chambers in a tree and smooth-walled tunnels. Like termites, ants can also create frass, but it has a coarse, sawdust-like appearance and can often contain dead ants and parts of other insects.
While Carpenter ants can infest your home like termites, they typically cause minor damage to trees. Because they don’t eat the wood, the damage caused by their tunneling and nest building is minimal. Termite tree damage, however, can be quite severe and requires treatment from a professional termite company.
Termite Activity in Your Yard
During the warmest parts of the year, reproductive male and female termites leave the nest to mate and start a new colony. As part of the swarming process, termites shed their wings. Even if you don’t see termites swarming, finding discarded wings on driveways and in your yard could mean there was a recent swarm.
You already know to keep an eye out for mud tubes inside your home and on the exterior, but did you know termites can build mud tubes in other places? Large, established termite colonies require a lot of food and water, and they’re not picky about where they get it. Mud tubes can be found on woodpiles, scraps of wood, storage buildings, and even wooden handles of your yard tools!
Have you seen signs of termite damage inside or outside your home? If you have, you can count on there being more damage behind the scenes. How much damage a termite infestation has done to your home can be determined by having a well-trained termite inspector inspect your home and other areas. No matter what we find, you can count on Hi-Tech Termite Control for termite control and prevention.
Now that you know what to look for to find signs of termites and termite damage, contact us for a free termite inspection. We proudly provide service throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County.