Termites eat and destroy timber, causing an estimated $1.5 billion worth of damage each year! If your home becomes infested with termites, the average cost of repairs is around $4500 for cosmetic repairs, but it can be much more when structural repairs are required.
If you live in a sub-tropical environment, such as on the Gold Coast, in the Tweed Valley and Tweed Heads, your property is considered to be at greater risk of infestation by these pests.
This blog post is the second in a four-part series on making your home less attractive to termites.
Moisture Attracts Termites
In this post, we’ll discuss common problems that occur inside the home which result in moist/damp framing timbers within the home’s structure, creating termite-friendly conditions.
Damp timber is known to attract termites. As termites are sightless insects, they follow a scent or pheromone to return to their colony. Damp timber starts to grow fungus which emits the same scent, therefore drawing the insects to it.
Following are the most common ways your home’s timber framing can be kept damp and attractive to those pesky termites.
Leaking Shower Recesses and Sinks
During termite inspections, you’ll notice the pest inspector uses a moisture meter or thermal imaging camera, which helps us determine if there is water entering the wall cavity, particularly around showers and under sinks.
Over time, tile grout and the waterproof membrane under the tiles fails, allowing moisture to seep into the wall cavity. When there is a large leak, water is evident on the floor in the adjacent room, however, when there are small, long term leaks, the timber inside the wall can be damp without you knowing it. This can result in the timber being 30% wetter than its normal dry state, and this is when fungal spores start to develop. Fungal growth consumes the lichen and cell walls of the timber (the glue which holds the timber together). To confirm fungal decay – if you can scrape the timber with a knife or if it crumples in your hand, there is fungal decay present.
Broken Plumbing in Walls, Behind Dishwasher or Washing Machine
Another common issue causing water to get into your timber wall frames is broken or leaking plumbing. Plastic pipes are now often used for plumbing. Rats gnaw on anything they can sharpen their ever-growing teeth on. When rats chew on plastic pipes, it causes a small hole and this can result in water leaking. We have also found leaking crimp joints on these plastic pipe fittings during inspections.
The flexible metal hoses now used under sinks and to connect dishwashers are often found to be leaking. To avoid leakage, only good quality hoses should be used, particularly as these leaks may go undetected for an extended period of time because they are often hidden behind toilets, under sinks and behind dish washers.
Blocked gutters can cause water to build up and flow into the eaves of your home. This is easy to spot, as there will be greenery in the gutters or water stains in/around the eaves. During rainy periods, the quad and framing timbers can develop fungal decay and attract termite activity.
Where possible, you should visually inspect your roof, from the ground at least, to check for any deformities in the roofline. Causes of such deformities include decayed, termite damaged tile battens along the roof tiles, which sag and allow water to enter the roof.
Cracked tiles or perished rubber seals on roofing screws for metal roofs can also facilitate water leaking into the roof void.
It’s important to regularly inspect your ceilings to ensure you have no water marks or mould growing on the ceiling. If either are present, have a roofing contractor inspect your roof and make any required repairs to avoid further leaks.
A thermal image inspection by a pest professional will show dark blue (cold) areas on a wall, which indicates a water leak.
Subfloor Surface Water
For homes with a subfloor area, care must be taken to ensure any ground water entering the subfloor is drained outside the building.
Often, soil builds up and covers the wall base plate, then the fungal decay cycle starts in the timber supporting the walls, attracting termites to this damaged timber. As moisture and lots of cellulose timber framing are readily available, the scene is set for a perfect termite picnic on your home.
So, if you want to ensure your home is free of the dreaded termite, eliminate these moisture sources from your property.
Want to know more about making your home termite resistant? Give us a call to arrange a free site inspection of your yard today.