How Pests Affect Your Building Foundation
The termite is the number one culprit when it comes to foundation damage. Despite their minuscule size, termites can destroy timber floors and walls and weaken the structural integrity of your building. If you have an infestation, it is imperative that you get rid of termites right away.
What are termites?
The size of a termite can be as small as 3mm. Termites vary in colour ranging from white to brown to black.
There are more than 350 species of termites in Australia, but only around 20 of them are pests that can cause damage to buildings.
The most destructive kind of termite lives under the ground. These subterranean termites are capable of destroying wooden support beams, sub-flooring, insulation, swimming pool liners, filtration systems, and building foundations. They can also destroy trees and shrubs.
Swarms of termites live and work together in colonies. Their nests and tunnels require constant moisture as termites cannot survive in low humidity for long periods. Soil, leaking plumbing, and decaying timber are ideal sources of moisture.
This makes the following conditions desirable to termites:
- Poorly ventilated sub-floors
- Untreated timber
- Termite barrier breaches
- Insufficient slab edge exposure
- Stored material around structures, including soil, wood, or cellulose products
Here are three signs that you might have a termite infestation:
- Blisters on timber surfaces, paintwork or varnishes
- Moisture build-up
- Mud tunnels
Regular inspections can help protect your property from termite infestation. If you find signs of termites, do not disturb them and call pest control immediately.
Termites will slowly destroy your home if you leave them untreated. Homeowners should schedule an inspection every year, especially if you have already had a previous infestation.
Standard termite inspections typically include a visual examination of the following areas:
- Foundation walls, behind plumbing pipes, loose timbers, and stored materials
- Bottom plates, base plates, bearers, joists, and any timber close to plumbing
- Stumps, posts, and all untreated wood
- Walls, ceilings, partitions, stairways, skirting boards, cupboards, floors, windows, and doors
- All timber adjacent to plumbing
- Roof framing including rafters, ceiling joists, purlins, and ridgeboards
- Top wall plates and eaves
- Roof lining around water heaters and air conditioning units
- Window and door frames
- Slab edges and expansion joints
- Timber that extends to concrete or soil
- Paths and driveways
- Stairways, decks, and handrails
- Rafters in the carport or garage
- Fences, logs, timbers around the pool, firewood, paving blocks, and sleepers
- Trees and stumps
Termite control methods
There are many ways to control and eradicate termite colonies.
- Termites can collect chemical dusts and non-repellent termiticides and distribute them to the rest of the colony.
- Baiting is the best way to destroy a colony when the nest cannot be found. Bait stations attract termites with timber, paper or cellulose gel and kill them with slow-acting, non-detectable toxins.
- Chemical barriers.This method aims to isolate the termite colony from the structure by applying pesticide around the exterior. This creates a toxic zone that the termites cannot cross.
Creating an effective chemical barrier around your building foundation may involve trenching and injecting pesticide into the soil. Termites pick up the chemical as they work through the soil, significantly reducing the termite population.
Many home builders treat the soil before construction begins to make sure that the exposed perimeter of the new structure is protected.
- Physical barriers.This method aims to isolate the termite colony from the structure by creating a complete barrier that the termites cannot cross. Physical barriers are the least-toxic method of pest control for new buildings.
Physical barriers can be made of crushed granite, marine-grade stainless steel mesh, strip shielding, metal sheeting, or chemically impregnated sheets with repellent termiticide in between polymer films.
How to prevent a termite infestation
Termites love timber and moisture. There are four ways you can reduce the risk of termites attacking your home.
- Control moisture.
- Install naturally resistant timbers below floor level.
- Avoid contact between timber and the ground.
- If possible, replace timber elements with concrete, masonry, or steel.
Replacing your timber building frame with steel does not make it termite-proof. According to research from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), termites can also attack steel-framed homes if they find other food sources inside.
Termites require water and food to keep their colony alive. Homeowners can prevent a termite attack by eliminating these resources. Our pest control partners suggest five ways to do this:
- Make sure that the soil is not in contact with building timbers or encroaching inspection zones
- Make sure that sub-floors are always dry and well-ventilated
- Do not store wood directly on soil
- Do not place wood in contact with buildings
- Fix plumbing leaks and update drainage to reduce soil moisture
Schedule a pest inspection with EBI today
Whether you are buying or selling property, it is important to organise a building and pest inspection before signing on the dotted line. Inspections give you a glimpse of the condition of the property inside and out so they should always be a part of the negotiations.
If you are a seller, you should know the current state of the property in order to come up with a reasonable offer. Building inspections can help you decide if you should hire a pest control company to deal with an infestation before putting the property on the market.
If you are a buyer, it is even more important to know the exact condition of the property before deciding to invest your hard-earned money. Undetected termite infestations could mean expensive costs in the future. Building inspections can give you peace of mind and help you negotiate the price as well.
Termites can slowly eat into your building foundation if they are left untreated. Call EBI today for a timber pest inspection to make sure these pests are not attacking your home.