Is My House Going To Fall Down?
Is my house going to fall down?
“Is my house going to fall down?” That’s a pretty common question from homeowners who find out they have a termite infestation. The answer … probably not. But there are some questions you need to have answered about what these nasty little critters can do, and what you may be able to do to reduce the chances of getting them.
Why do termites infest houses? Well, to answer that question we need to learn about their behavior and why they so important to the planet.
Termites help return decaying wood back to the environment. They consume the cellulose in wood, either in trees, or the 2×4’s in our homes – there’s no difference to the termite. Termites randomly forage for a food source 24/7/365, non-stop, and we build our homes on their turf.
An average of 13-15 termite colonies can be found in an acre of land with over 1,000,000 termites per colony. The average colony can weigh over 70 pounds, if you really wanted to put them in a bag and weigh them on your bathroom scale (which would be weird, but kind of cool.) So, with a round-the-clock need to eat and the enormous colony populations, there are basically only two kinds of homes: those who have termites, and those who are waiting to get them! They
cause more financial damage every year than fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes … COMBINED!
Like ants, termites live in a caste system which is a very organized community intent on survival. The Queen controls the colony and determines what everyone should do and how many of each member the colony needs to thrive. The termite Queen can live 25 years and produce millions of offspring. She sets up as far as 300 below the surface of the ground, but generally we can find her just below the frost line.
The Worker termites sustain the colony by feeding all the other members. They are 90% water based and require high moisture levels to survive (which plays a major role in keeping them away from our homes, which I’ll talk about in a little bit) and travel in tubes, like tunnels, that help keep them moist and protected from invaders. They eat the cellulose and then transfer it to the other members just like a momma bird feeds her babies.
The Alates are reproductive termites and during the Spring, and sometimes Fall, the Queen will command the Alates to leave the colony to go start another one. This is why there are so many colonies everywhere. Not all Alates make it. They die pretty quickly outside the protection of the colony, but these are the termites that we see swarming around outside. They come out in the tens of thousands, and if this happens inside the home they can create nightmares for homeowners!
The Soldiers do exactly what their name implies. They protect the colonies from invasion. The number one enemy? The ant! The Pest Control company comes in a distant second place. When an invasion happens, the Soldiers are the first responders and use their large pinchers to help keep their families safe.
Ok, great! Now I know enough about termites to hold a water cooler conversation, but what can I do to prevent them from invading my house? Great question! There are a few things you can do to help reduce the chance of being invaded, and they involve eliminating the conditions that are conducive to termite infestations. The first, and most important thing, is eliminating moisture problems which I alluded to earlier.
Termites need to maintain a constant, reasonably high level of moisture to survive. Any high moisture conditions will attract termites over and above what is normal. For example, if you’ve ever had a plumbing leak under your home then you’ve set the table for termites. They seek out the moisture, find a 1/64” hole in the concrete or simply crawl up your foundation wall and bingo … food source! Reduce the moisture; reduce the conducive condition.
Another important element to eliminating conducive conditions is to remove all wood-to-ground contact. If you have pallets or a wood pile against the house, you can be sure that termites will find it. If they find food 1 foot from your home, what will keep them from finding the wood in your home? Move that wood pile as far away from the structure as reasonable, and clean up any wood debris from around, or under, your home. It’s just fuel for the fire for all kinds of pests, especially termites.
Finally, make sure that you have a professional conduct an annual inspection for termites. Pest Control companies will generally perform an inspection if you’re under a “termite agreement,” but if your house hasn’t been treated for termites in the last 5-7 years you are most likely due a termite treatment. If you’re willing to roll the dice, not recommended based on the financial risk, then most companies will offer inspections to non-customers for a fee, and you may even find a company that will do it for free.
Termites are nothing to play with. They cause serious damage in a very short period of time and since they have to remain hidden to keep their moisture level steady, you may have termites
right now and not even know it until they’ve eaten a substantial amount of your home. Your house probably won’t fall to the ground, but don’t stick your head in the sand and hope you’re never going to have to deal with termites. The cost of treating your home for termites is substantially lower than the cost of repair.
If you think you should have a termite inspection, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout at (731) 285-4982.