The Eastern Subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes) is the most destructive wood pest in North America. These termites infest wood that’s moist, damaged, or easily accessible from the ground. The best way to keep them away is to eliminate excess moisture around your home as much as possible.
Colonies of termites require a surprising amount of moisture to survive. If they can’t re-hydrate themselves regularly, workers will slow down and eventually die off. If the wood around your home stays dry, then termites won’t be able to live off of it. There are several ways to make the wood around your home dry and termite-inaccessible. It’s surprisingly easy once you know how! Here are a couple of the most important first steps you should take:
Eastern subterranean termites are all about attacking moist wood. The wetter the food source, the easier it is to chew through and subsist on for long periods of time. Most wooden structures are quite porous, meaning they soak up environmental moisture quite easily. Any unfinished wood in and around your home is quite sensitive to the humidity of the environment around it. Floors, furniture, baseboard, boards, rafters, or other wooden structures all become quite vulnerable in humid environments.
The most humid parts of your home are probably your basement, attic, shed, crawl spaces, and garage. Start dehumidifying these spaces by looking for any way moist outdoor air could enter your home. Seal up cracks and crevices, especially around door and window frames. Try to find and fix any sources of ambient moisture like condensation, leaking, or puddling. Ensure each space has proper, working ventilation to transfer moist air away. If humidity problems persist, consider investing in a dehumidifier.
Did you know that the typical household wastes between 2,000 and 20,000 gallons of water every year because of leaks? Not only are these leaks a huge waste of money and water, but they could also threaten your home’s wood! Most of the plumbing in your home either directly contacts or runs alongside wood. Whether it’s under the sink or in the basement, when pipes leak, they’re probably leaking right onto wooden structures.
The more your pipes or fixtures leak onto the wood in your home, the more vulnerable that wood becomes. Not only will wood absorb moisture, but that moisture will also damage and warp it. Damaged wood is easier for termites to chew through, making it even more attractive. Start looking for sources of common leaks. Make sure your fixtures don’t trip, check under your sink, and watch for puddling in the basement. Fix any leaks you find as quickly and effectively as possible.
Termite infestations start outside the home. The pests find a vulnerable source of wood and begin working their way through it. The indoor infestation usually only begins when termites eat their way inside. If you want to prevent termite infestations, you have to protect the inside and outside of your home. Obviously, it’s more difficult to keep wooden structures outside your home from getting wet. You can help make sure water doesn’t linger by wood, however.
Your home’s drainage is designed to catch water and direct it away from your home. Check your downspouts, gutters, splash blocks, and sump pump. Test each fixture with a bucket of water to make sure it’s doing its job correctly. Your sump pump is especially important because it transfers water away from the ground around your foundation. The better your drainage system, the less water the wood around your home will retain.
It sounds obvious: if termites can’t access wood, they can’t feed on it. Unfortunately, it’s easier to imagine keeping termites away from wood than it is to pull it off. First of all, termites don’t just infest manmade structures. They’ll help themselves to any wood around your property, including firewood stacks, trees and tree stumps, and more. Even if you elevate wood so it isn’t touching the ground, termites can build climbable mud “tubes” to reach it.
Try to eliminate all the outdoor termite food sources you can. Pull out dead trees and tree stumps, store firewood inside, and remove rotting fencing or siding. Wrap any wooden support beams or pillars in hard plastic, especially if they contact the ground. Pressure test and stain your porch, deck, or any other outdoor wooden structures on your property. If you make it hard for termites to find food near you, then they’ll look for it elsewhere.
Fighting termites can feel like an uphill battle. After all, they eat wood, and your home is made out of wood. If you follow these tips, however, you’ll see that effective termite prevention is far from a lost cause. Now that you know what termites want and how to get it, you know how to stop them! If you want to get really proactive, Griffin also offers programs for protecting homes from termites before they have a chance to strike!
Of course, all the prevention tips in the world won’t help you if you’re already dealing with termites. If you’re worried you have a termite infestation, give Griffin a call any time. Our termite experts have everything we need to wipe out those wood eaters for good.