For many pest control specialists, ridding homes of a termite infestation is our bread and butter. In America alone, these nasty little buggers cause billions of dollars worth of property damage every year. That’s because there can be up to 2 million members in a single colony, and many properties have more than one colony. Despite those daunting statistics, there are ways to protect your home against termites. Even though there are no methods (yet) that guarantee a termite-free existence, if you follow these steps, you reduce your risk significantly.
If it’s already too late and you need to call in a termite expert, following these steps will help protect your home in the future. That takes us to the number one way to keep your property termite-free: regular termite inspection.
Preventive Care: Regular Termite Inspections
Arizona termite damage to a door frameScheduling regular inspections with a certified termite specialist is the first step toward protecting your home. If there is an infestation, this preventive measure helps ensure you discover it early, before the damage becomes too extensive – and expensive – to treat. If there is no infestation, your inspector offers suggestions designed to help protect you from termites in the future.
If the inspector does discover termites, he or she then discusses treatment options, which vary depending on the severity of the problem and where the infestation occurs. In addition, you and your pest control specialist will work together to create a program to monitor your property to further prevent future infestations.
Keep Wood off the Ground
Termite damage to woodThe majority of a termite’s diet comes from wood. To protect your home against termite damage, you want to minimize their access to their favorite food, and that means creating a barrier between wood and the ground.
This task takes on numerous aspects. Start with woodpiles, such as firewood and lumber, on your property. Don’t bury lumber scraps and don’t store firewood or lumber near the building. Things get a bit more involved when it comes to the structure itself. Of course, homes today are built on a solid concrete foundation, but you want to make sure any part of the structure that is made of wood is at least six inches above ground level. That includes wood siding, door frames, latticework, wooden stairs or posts, and window frames.
Creating this six-inch barrier may require pulling soil back from the foundation (mulch, too), or even re-grading the area. You may also have to cut away the bottom of support steps, posts, and latticework to achieve the required barrier. Even if wooden stairs and posts rest on a concrete base, they often extend through to the ground. Please note that even pressure-treated wood is vulnerable. Termites may build tunnels across the surface or enter through cracks and cut ends.
Garden with mulch spread outMulching benefits your landscaping in a variety of ways, but it’s also an ideal breeding ground for termites, who love its moisture and insulation against extreme heat and cold. Mulch isn’t one of the termite’s preferred food sources, but they are attracted by its inherent moisture. And, it doesn’t even matter what type of mulch you use; even pea gravel and crushed stone mulch attract termites.
If you use mulch, try to keep its depth to less than three inches. Also, maintain a six-inch barrier between mulch and the building, making sure it never comes into contact with framing or wood siding.
Protect Your Crawlspace
If your property has a crawlspace, it has venting, which is a common building code requirement in most states. The number of vents varies, but typically you need one square foot of vent opening for every X square feet of crawl space (X ranges from a low of 150 square feet to a high of 500). In addition, building codes often require vents within three feet of building corners.
While crawlspace vents are necessary, they attract dirt, debris, and a variety of plant matter, making them very attractive to termites. Crawlspaces, too, attract them, thanks to the moisture and humidity commonly found there. Protect your property by keeping vents clear of debris and reducing moisture within the crawlspace by covering the soil with polyethylene sheeting.
Take care, also, with what you store in the crawlspace. Avoid stacking wood or lumber there, as well as newspapers, cardboard boxes, and other items that termites love to eat.
Prevent Moisture from Accumulating
Water damage at wall with termite damageLeaking water is bad for your property for a number of reasons, but you may have never considered one of them: it attracts termites.
One of the reasons termites love moisture so much is that it softens their food (compare it to the way we marinate meat before cooking it). We often find termite colonies in the neighborhood of a leak, where the wood has had time to become nice and soft. If your plumbing or roof has a leak, fix it as soon as possible. Also, schedule yearly plumbing inspections to discover leaks early. Our homes often have plumbing leaks that go on for years and we never realize it until a pipe bursts or some other catastrophe strikes.
Have Your Home Treated Professionally
Having your home professionally treated with a termiticide (Arizona Pest Solutions uses Termidor) is probably the most powerful step you can take to protect it from a termite infestation. The word “professionally” was not chosen at random. You want a trained, experienced termite specialist who understands treatment protocols and the latest methods for preventing termite infestations in a safe, effective manner.
If you’re ready to schedule an inspection, call Arizona Pest Solutions today. Our termite experts conduct a thorough inspection of your property and, if they find evidence of a termite infestation, advise you on treatment methods and provide a free estimate.