4 Things Every Homeowner Should Know About Termites
Your home is probably the biggest single investment you'll ever make -- so the last thing you want is to let it get chewed up by termites. These tiny pests represent a gigantic threat to practically any home. Here are four valuable nuggets of information to help you win your ongoing battle against termites.
1. Termites Love a Damp Home
While some termites can live on very little moisture (as long as they have plenty of wood to eat), a common variety known as dampwood termites absolutely thrive on it. True to their name, dampwood termites invade wood that has become saturated with water. In natural settings, you'll see them infesting dead trees or felled pieces of wood. In your home, however, they'll congregate wherever your wooden components are chronically damp. Residents of the Southwest, Pacific Coast, and Southern Florida face the greatest threat from these marauders.
You can protect your property against dampwood termites by addressing any standing water in your home, starting with leaky window or door seals that allows wooden frames or sills to get soggy and moldy. Have every inch of your plumbing system checked for drips or breaks. If you have a basement, ask a contractor to check the floor joist that connects the foundation to the bottom of the wall, since this area is a common source of water leakage as well.
2. Organic Debris Can Be a Feeding Ground
It isn't always easy to keep your outdoor environment scrupulously neat and clean, but it's worth making the effort if you want to keep termites from taking over your property. Termites feast on dead leaves, twigs, bark, grass cuttings, birds' nests, and other organic litter that tends to accumulate around a home -- and a good feeding ground makes a good breeding ground. Piles of organic debris also retain moisture after a rain, giving the pests all the materials they need to survive. The closer the debris is to the house, the more readily your termite population will make its way to your walls and window casements.
The easiest way to fight these invaders is to take away their food supply. Rake your lawn regularly and bag the cuttings or dead leaves for disposal. Don't forget to clean out your gutters -- the same blockages that cause moisture to gather on your roof can also provide sustenance for termites.
3. Some of the Trouble May Lie Underground
Don't assume that you're termite free just because you don't see evidence of termites or termite damage in your walls or roof beams. A particular class of these pests called subterranean termites can attack your property from a different angle -- namely, underground. These ravenous termites are especially destructive, causing 95 percent of all termite-related damage of the U.S. This is partly because of their saw-toothed jaws which can reduce wood to pulp, and partly because of their practice of tunneling through wood and living mostly under the earth, which makes them hard to spot until it is too late.
An infestation by subterranean termites is serious business requiring professional pest control help. Smart planning at the homebuilding stage, however, can help prevent these infestations from occurring. Homes that make use of structural materials such as steel or concrete in place of wood have an obvious advantage from the beginning, as do homes whose wooden features stand at least 12 inches above the ground. You can also reduce the odds of infestation by keeping stacks of firewood well away from your home.
4. You Don't Always Need to Use Toxic Pesticides
Some homeowners worry about the pesticides used by pest control companies to kill termites. But the truth of the matter is that these chemicals can be employed safely -- by skilled experts. Your pest company will advise you any safety measures you might need to employ as far as vacating the premises temporarily or ventilating it for the termite treatment. Just don't try to use these chemicals yourself.
There are also non-toxic methods and substances for controlling mild termite infestations or keeping the next wave of invaders out. Relatively human-friendly products such as neem oil, boric acid, and orange oil may not pack the punch of professional termiticides, but they can treat small-scale localized problems. If you want to keep termites out of your yard without using chemicals, ask your pest control company whether it makes sense to seed the yard with microscopic termite-eating worms called nematodes.
Now that you've armed yourself with some useful information about these destructive pests, put your knowledge to good use. Smart home maintenance practices, safe preventative strategies, and the occasional visit from a pest control specialist will help you preserve your beloved home for years to come. You can click for more info on pest control.