What are the Signs of Termites?

A skilled building inspector can help identify the scale of termite problems.

Termites are considered to be one of the most destructive pests. They can chew through wood inside and outside of homes and buildings. Before they can inflict costly damages, it is necessary to be able to identify the early signs of a termite infestation.

Where do termites come from

Where do termites come from?

Subterranean termites (sometimes called ‘white ants’) are the types that are destructive to homes. The other termite species, known as the drywood termites, are not considered a threat.

Subterranean termites have small and soft bodies. They build their nests in trees and soils. They have underground tunnels that can run up to 100 metres from their nests. A nest can contain millions of termites and has a caste system that consists of a queen, king, soldiers, and workers. For insects, they live relatively long lives. The queen can live up to 25 years, while workers can live up to four years. They also work 24 hours a day.

Termites may be tiny and cannot survive out in the open, but they have great survival instincts. As a result, they have lived on this planet for millions of years, even coexisting with ancient dinosaurs.

There are more than 300 species of termites in Australia, but not all are harmful. There are termites in mainland Australia, which can be found in both country and suburban areas.

What attracts termites

What attracts termites?

One way to prevent a termite infestation is to avoid conditions that attract them in the first place. Here are some of the things that termites love.

  • Moisture

Like humans, termites cannot survive without moisture. Though these tiny insects can survive without food for a long time, they will immediately die without water.

Termites are attracted to places with high moisture presence. They are more enticed by homes where there is consistently moist soil. Houses with leaking pipes, taps, and AC drains usually are more vulnerable to termite invasion.

They also tend to infest damp and dark areas around the house, such as cabinets, cavity walls, under the sink, and shower recesses.

  • Food

Termites thrive on cellulose. These sugar molecules are found in logs, trees, and paint. That is why roof frames and timber walls are prone to termite damage.

Other parts of the house that are vulnerable to termite attacks are floorboards, decks, fences, cupboards, furniture, and carpets.

Signs of termite infestations

Signs of termite infestations

When eliminating termites, it is better to be proactive than reactive. Here are some of the signs that a house has termites.

  • Buckling in wood floors

Subterranean termites can damage the subfloor. It can make wooden floors look like it has water damage, resulting in blisters or buckling.

Between the hardwood floor and the softer subfloor, termites prefer the latter. It is why many people only notice their presence once they have done extensive damage to the wooden flooring. Unfortunately, floors damaged by termites can be difficult to repair because it usually involves more than one section of the flooring.

  • Hollowed wood

Termites can eat through the walls from the inside, going outward. Again, it makes them difficult to spot until they have created substantial damage. They usually will hollow out walls without making their presence known. One way to tell if termites are causing damage behind wall surfaces is by tapping on them. When the wall sounds hollow, chances are, there are termites behind them.

Termites eat through the wood and consume cellulose. They leave behind long hollow grooves that resemble a maze. As time passes, the grooves will weaken the wood, resulting in structural damage.

  • Flying termites

Flying termites, also known as swarmers, are termites who leave their colonies to find their mates and start new colonies. When swarming occurs, hundreds to thousands of flying termites join in.

The presence of flying termites in a property means that there have already been termites in the vicinity for quite some time.

  • Pile of termite wings

Once the swarmers have found their mates and started their new colony, they remove their wings since they will not need them again. Thus, piles of discarded termite wings can be found near doors, windows, and other entry points in the house.

The presence of discarded termite wings does not indicate that the termites are dead. It is possible that they are building a new colony somewhere on the property.

  • Mud tubes

Subterranean termites cannot survive out in the open. They require a special shelter to protect them once they emerge from their hiding places or underground. To survive, termites must be in certain temperatures and levels of humidity. Mud tunnels or tubes, usually made from dirt and termite droppings, help block cool and dry air. They can often be found in parts where the ground meets the house.

It is not easy to spot mud tubes, but they are one of the most common indicators of termites in the house.

  • Cracked paint

Like with the floors, the presence of termites in walls can resemble water damage. Problems caused by termites result in a honeycomb or bubbling effect. It means termites have eaten through the internal walls, resulting in cracks in the paint.

  • Repeated short circuit

Termites are attracted to the warmth of electrical wirings. As a result, they can cause repeated short circuits due to the build-up of soil or mud in affected power points or electrical fittings.

It is good to call the professionals right away because cleaning off and fixing the affected electrical fittings could be hazardous.

  • Mouldy scents

Termites love the combination of wood and excessive moisture. So, if some parts of the house are giving off some mouldy smell, then there may be termites lurking somewhere.

  • Live termites

Homeowners remodelling their houses have a good chance of spotting live termites when tearing down walls. Nothing can be a more positive indicator of a termite invasion than finding live termites lurking between walls and cabinets, and underneath wooden floors.

Are you buying a house soon Check it for termite infestations. Contact your trusted building inspector today.

Are you buying a house soon? Check it for termite infestations. Contact your trusted building inspector today.

Exceptional Building Inspections offers pre-purchase inspections for homebuyers to ensure all defects are identified before closing the deal. A thorough and careful inspection makes sure that you will be paying for what you are actually getting. Call us now on 4950 4197 or 0412 188 199, and let us help ensure that your new property is defect- and termite-free.