Wood is one of the most commonly used materials in the construction of homes. It’s easy to work with, is normally readily available, and can be treated and augmented in a number of ways. It’s estimated that 90 percent of homes in the United States are at least partially constructed from wood. While wood is an appealing construction material, it still requires inspection and maintenance like any other material does.
One of the largest threats posed to homes constructed from wood are wood-destroying insects. While wood-destroying insect inspections aren’t required by all housing lenders, it’s highly recommended to have one done if purchasing a home made of wood. Learn more about wood-destroying insects here.
What is a Wood-Destroying Insect?
Upon hearing the term “wood-destroying insect” it’s likely that most people will immediately think of termites. While these may be the most prominent wood-destroying insect, there are others that are just as detrimental to homes, if not more detrimental.
There are over 40 different species of termites in the United States alone, with at least one species in every region in the country. These termites can range from a quarter of an inch to half an inch in length. They’re called the “silent destroyer,” and can be absolutely devastating to homes. In extreme cases, a large colony of termites can destroy a home within one to two years, with most of the damage taking place in the first few months.
Carpenter ants are large, dark-colored ants that make their homes in damp or damaged wood. They’re commonly found around deadfall, and can spread to homes quite easily. While carpenter ants don’t eat wood, they still excavate in it, creating their intricate nests. They are less destructive than termites, overall, but still present serious problems.
Out of all the wood-destroying insects, carpenter bees are considered to be the least destructive, but still need to be taken care of if discovered. Like carpenter ants, carpenter bees bore into wood and create nests. They’re less destructive than ants and termites, however, because they are not a colonized insect.
How Do Homes Get Wood-Destroying Insects?
Most wood-destroying insect infestations start outside the home. Colonies of insects can be found in surrounding trees, or even surrounding properties. As the colony grows, more real estate is necessary, so they begin to investigate and inhabit the homes around them.
They can also be found in firewood stacked around the property, brought in from other locations, or can be found in damp soil near the foundation of the building.
Termites, carpenter ants, and carpenter bees all look for weak points in the exterior structures of homes. They’ll enter through any crack, crevice, or hole they can find in their search for wood. During the seasons when female termites and ants leave their nests as winged insects, this can be especially dangerous. These insects are ready to build new colonies, and it can take as little as a few months to establish one.
What Does a Wood-Destroying Insect Inspection Consist Of?
Most wood-destroying insect inspections, also known as pest inspections, are non-invasive visual inspections. This means that an inspector will not remove fixtures, shelved items, or any other household appliances while inspecting the home. They’ll observe portions of the home and look for signs of wood-destroying insects and pests. These signs are normally:
- Swarms of wood-destroying insects, like winged termites or ants
- Cracked and bubbling paint
- Frass, more commonly known as termite droppings
- Hollow sounds when wood is tapped lightly
- Evidence of nesting, like holes or mud tubes on interior and exterior surfaces
In addition to looking for these signs, they’ll also check the home to see if previous repairs or treatments have been done for wood-destroying insects.
What if Bugs Are Found?
It’s not always bad news when something is found during a bug inspection. In some cases, if damage is minimal and the infestation is small, the house can be treated for the insects. The home can also undergo repairs to fix what damage has been done by the insects.
In other cases, however, damage may be too extensive to repair, or may be too costly to repair. In these situations, it’s best to pass on the home with the infestation.
How Much Does a Wood-Destroying Insect Inspection Cost?
If you’re using ARTI Home Inspections for your wood-destroying insect inspection needs, you’ll pay $100 for the inspection when done in conjunction with our home inspection services. If you are having your home inspected solely for wood-destroying insects, the inspection itself will cost $150. We’ll inspect for termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and wood boring beetles.
How Can I Prevent Wood-Destroying Insects?
The best way to prevent wood-destroying insects is by keeping up with routine home maintenance. Paying attention to your home’s damages and structure and inspecting it yourself on a consistent basis is an excellent strategy in preventing these bugs. When inspecting your own home, be sure to look for the following:
- Repair any leaking faucets or fixtures that can cause damp conditions around the home
- Divert water away from the foundation as best as possible
- Keep gutters and downspouts clean and clear of leaf litter and debris that wood-destroying insects enjoy
- Maintain plants around the home, including trees and shrubbery
- Remove excessive mulch from around the home
- Check seals around all entry points for water and utilities in the home
Preventing termites by removing tempting food sources from around the home is another key strategy. Consider the following when scrutinizing your property:
- Keep firewood and lumber away from the foundation and crawl spaces
- Get rid of any wood debris near the house, such as stumps and deadfall
- Place screens on vents
- Prevent any wooden structures from directly contacting soil
When Should I Have My Home Inspected?
If you’ve noticed any of the signs listed prior, such as frass, cracks in paint, or hollow sounds when tapping your wood panels, an inspection should be scheduled. Additionally, if you’ve noticed colonies of wood-destroying insects in the vicinity of your home, it’s better to have the home inspected preemptively rather than waiting for an apparent problem. You don’t want to be too late when it comes to insects like termites.
Contact ARTI Home Inspections for a wood-destroying insect inspection today!