Whether there’s termite activity in your area or you’ve had previous termite activity at your property, it’s important to understand how to repel termites around your home.
This post is the third in our four part series of posts detailing how to make your home less attractive to termites.
Your strategy to repel termites
A termite is a subterranean, soft-shelled insect which feeds on wood. Thanks to their ability to chew through timber, they are known as silent destroyers and are not something you want in your home.
Termites have a thin, transparent exoskeleton, which makes their survival dependent on having a constant source of moisture. This moisture also helps maintain a high level of humidity within their workings or “colony”. So naturally, if you remove the constant moisture source/s within the soil around your property, termites cannot thrive. This is a key tip if you wish to repel termites.
Following are some of the ways the soil against your building can remain moist, often without you realising it.
One of the most common sources of soil moisture is dripping taps and automatic watering systems. Both of these need to be properly maintained on a regular basis to ensure they are not dripping water and adding to the moisture levels of the soil. This is particularly important if you have garden beds covered in mulch or wood chip, which provides a food source and major attractant to termites.
Damaged Downpipes or Guttering
As our homes age, sometimes there is damaged or rusted out downpipes or guttering which drip during rain periods. Because more moisture gathers in these areas, they take longer to dry out. This makes them ideal for attracting moisture-seeking termites, who will then hunt for a food source nearby – the timber in your home!
Hot Water Service Overflow
Most hot water systems have an overflow pipe located on the perimeter of the building. Termite inspection standards require that drains, downpipes and hot water overflows all discharge into a drain or the ground surface at least 2 metres away from the home. Unfortunately, many installations don’t comply with the 2 metre rule, so the water drips close to the building.
Did you know? Hot water systems can discharge up to 6 litres of water per day! That’s a lot of water dripping or running against your house. It’s important to regularly check for a faulty hot water release valve which is constantly leaking – it will need to be replaced.
We recommend you direct or extend the overflow pipe into a nearby drain or downpipe or into the ground at least 2 metres from the building perimeter.
Air Conditioner Discharge Pipes
When the weather warms up, the air conditioner goes on. During the hot, humid months of the year, your air conditioner can pull around 4-8 litres of water from the air, which is then discharged along the outside of your home.
If you want to repel termites, as with the hot water overflow, we recommend this discharge pipe be extended into a nearby drain or downpipe. Reputable air conditioning installers will do this as part of the installation, however, a lot of installers shortcut the install by directing overflow water against your house.
Surface Water Around Your Home
Whenever it rains, does water pool around your house, making puddles against the external walls? The ponding water slowly sinks into the soil, and when it has no place to drain away further, it sits in the soil against the home, keeping it wet for a lot longer than in other, well-drained areas around the home. Once again, this will attract termite activity.
Another area to check is the sub-floor (under the house). Flooding can occur here, and when there is insufficient drainage to take the water away, it can pool in the soil under the house.
Where there is insufficient drainage around the home, you will need to consider installing surface drains, spoon drains or site excavations to improve water flow around your house and repel termites.
Many homeowners with sub-floor areas are unaware that water entering this area is unlikely to drain away if there is little or no ventilation. This provides a high risk of a moisture loop forming, where soil moisture evaporates, then condenses on flooring timbers causing fungal decay. Decaying timber is an ideal termite food source and the constant moisture provides an ideal environment for the termites to thrive in.
Fungal decay releases a very similar pheromone or scent that termites use to track along their termite leads, as they are a sightless insect. This is why fungal decay is thought to attract termites.
When a piece of timber is turned over and active termites are present, you’ll see the soldiers spread out to protect the workers and the workers keep looping around the same area, as they are following a scent trail.
Providing adequate ventilation will help reduce moisture and fungal decay in the sub-floor of your home, which in turn, helps repel termites.
Would you like know more about making your home termite resistant? Give us a call to arrange a free site inspection of your yard today.