Termites typically fill antiques collectors with dread, but these wood-destroying pests can be a real cause for concern for any homeowner. Termite colonies are notoriously difficult to spot until much of the damage is done. And the damage can be extreme. These pesky pests are able to chew through supporting wooden beams, or any other wooden structure, which can lead to collapse.
However, a little understanding goes a long way to getting rid of termites and keeping them away. Check out a few tips and tricks below, to keep your home termite-free and safe.
How to Repel Termites
Termites need cellulose (found in wood, paper, cardboard, etc), water, and, in the case of some species, damp soil to survive. Controlling these conditions in and around your home is the best way to prevent termites from wreaking havoc.
Fix Your Plumbing
Step one is to remove their access to water. If you can do this, the battle is pretty much won. So, be sure to fix any leaky pipes and faucets that might be creating a welcome respite for a colony of termites. Stay on top of keeping your gutters clear as well, as not only do damp leaves attract hungry termites, but blocked downspouts can cause water to gush towards your home. If the soil around your foundation is wet, it’s an easy way for termites to come into your home. Make sure that there’s no water pooling around your house, and be sure that all drainage is working properly.
Ensure Good Air Circulation Throughout Your Home
Moisture can come from less likely sources, so it might not be enough to simply prevent water from pooling. Mold, mildew, and damp patches all point to poor air circulation in your home, and these damp areas are also ideal for termites. Make sure that air is able to circulate throughout your home, and remove any traces of damp as soon as possible.
Treat Wooden Elements in Advance
During construction, all wooden elements, including decking, should be treated with a 0.1% solution of permethrin added to the varnish or paint. This is safe for pets and humans, but deadly to termites. Moisture barriers should be fitted in the foundation, and at no point should wood be left in direct contact with the soil. To make sure your home remains termite-free, there are some types of wood that termites aren’t attracted to, including Eastern Red Cedar, Pacific Yew, and Black Walnut.
Keep Wood and Mulch Away From Your Home
Termites eat the cellulose found in wood, so by removing wood, mulch, and any other sources of food from around your house, they’re going to have far fewer incentives to invade your home. Keep firewood piles stored away from the side of your house, and don’t use mulch near your foundations or crawl spaces. Additionally, remove any nearby tree stumps, as while termites seldom infest live trees, they won’t hesitate to feast on a stump.
Block Any Entrances To Your Home
Finally, try to keep the door closed to termites as best you can. Fill up any cracks, crevices, and holes in your exterior walls with cement mortar, and use plaster filler inside. In addition, fit mosquito nets to any ventilation shafts, particularly those that lead into the basement.
How to Get Rid of Termites
If you suspect that you’re too late to prevent a termite invasion, there are still a few things you can do to get rid of them before they cause too much damage. Tell-tale signs of termites in your home include discarded wings, mud tubes outside, bubbled or cracked paint, solid wood that sounds hollow when tapped, and wood that is soft to the point that you can poke a screwdriver inside. Before killing termites, be sure to take measures to prevent another invasion.
Wet Cardboard Traps
These simple traps consist of wet paper or cardboard, laced with a slow-acting termite poison, placed in a plastic container. This should be set near the colony, buried if you have subterranean termites, for the termite workers to find and eat. Workers share their food with the rest of the colony, including the queen, and the poison will slowly spread through, drastically reducing the termite population in your home.
Many homeowners use it to fend off roaches, and it works just as well on termites, which happen to be a member of the cockroach family. Spray it in any areas that termites inhabit to kill them quickly. It’s far less toxic than other chemical solutions, and people even use it as a household cleaner, eye wash, and a DIY face wash to prevent acne.
These parasitic roundworms have been bred to be extremely hostile to insects while leaving humans, plants, and animals alone. They are introduced to the soil that is home to subterranean termites, and slowly work their way through the colony, devouring every termite they come across. This method isn’t good for dry-wood termites, however, which live only in wood.
This eco-friendly termite-control solution is deadly to termites, but sweet smelling and safe for pets and people. The oil is made from orange rinds and injected into termite infested areas.
A number of sprays, foams, and other chemical treatments are available, falling under the catchall of termiticides. Modern products are actually quite safe, with some approved for use in restaurants and professional kitchens, but it’s always worth keeping kids and pets away from treated areas. You can also hire a professional, who will generally apply the treatment, and monitor termite activity over the following weeks and months.
The key to reducing termite damage to your home is prevention from the get-go. Most modern homes are built with protections in place, but if you’re living in an older home, it’s not too late to add repellent treatments. If in doubt, consult a professional!