Termite wood damage is one of the major problems a lot of homeowners encounter annually. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), about 600,000 homes in the U.S. are damaged by termites every year. Americans are estimated to spend over $5 billion annually for termite control $1-2 of which are on Formosan termite control, in particular.
So, simply said, termites are a pain to deal with. What’s more, however, termite damage repair is not an easy thing to do. The average termite damage repair cost can range from hundreds of dollars to millions, depending on the size and type of the property, and on how large the infestation has been allowed to become.
Fortunately, there are multiple termite damage repair options depending on what you’re dealing with, so let’s explore them here.
What does termite damage look like?
Hearing or reading about termite damage is one thing but seeing it is another. Termite damage, especially it the infestation has been allowed to fester for a while, can be exceptionally destructive. Termite damage can amount to the outright consumption of entire wooden structures and reducing them to discarded piles of leftover wooden pieces and dust. It can also look like buckling and cracked ceilings and walls from having extensive termite tunnel networks dug through them. In fact, termite damage can sometimes resemble water damage in that it creates a sort of dripping effect on walls and ceilings, as well as similarly-looking cracks. Finding termite tree damage outdoors can give you a clear idea as to what your home’s walls, ceiling, and floors can look like if there are termites crawling through them.
Every type of termite damage that’s been left to reach that stage can be outright irreversible. Fortunately, there are earlier signs of termite damage to look for as well such as:
- Hollow parts in walls and floors that can be noticed if you knock on them.
- Termite exit holes on wooden surfaces where the pests’ tunnels end.
- The sound of termites chewing through the wood which can sometimes be heard even with a naked ear.
- Mud termite tunnels on and around your home’s foundations.
These earlier signs can help you spot a termite infestation before it has gotten out of hand but they can also just indicate that half of your walls have already been chewed off on the inside.
Also, keep in mind that different types of termites deliver different types of damage at a different rate. The most destructive termites in the U.S. are the notorious Formosan termite which is a type of subterranean termite. Such subterranean termite damage can render a structure completely irreparable in two years flat if left unchecked simply by consuming large parts of its foundations and walls.
Alternatively, drywood termite damage can take several years to reach such epic proportions but with time it can be equally devastating.
How to tell if the damage is done by termites or by carpenter ants?
A lot can be said about the difference between carpenter ant damage vs termite damage as they are different in their scope and in their specifics. Generally speaking, both insects chew through wood and can damage wooden structures beyond repair. Both prefer moist wood as they require moisture to survive but both can easily chew through dry wood as well.
As for the differences between them, the main one is that termites consume wood while carpenter ants only chew through it and leave it behind. This makes carpenter ants not only easier to notice thanks to the dust piles they leave behind, but it also makes them slower to gnaw through the wood. That’s why carpenter ants are usually regarded as less dangerous than termites – they cause their damage much more slowly.
Additionally, carpenter ants aren’t as thorough in their conquest as their goal is to dig up a tunnel network system not to consume the wood. Termites, on the other hand, feed on wood so they can outright consume entire blocks of it instead of just digging narrow tunnels through it.
At the end of the day, both termite and carpenter ant infestations should be discovered and acted upon as quickly as possible. Termites are simply an even more serious problem than carpenter ants because of their insatiable appetite for wood.
How to fix termite damage?
Knowing how to fix termite damage can save you a lot of time, money and effort. Sometimes professional help is simply required but a lot of time you should be able to take care of the repairs yourself. There are three main steps that go into termite damage repair:
- Extensive termite treatment. This isn’t technically a way to repair termite damage but it’s essential something you should do right before you start doing just that. For maximum results, it’s often recommended to call a licensed professional exterminator as you need to make sure that the termite infestation is 100% dealt with. Leaving even a trace of the infestation before starting the repairs can render them pointless as the termite colony will replenish itself and keep chewing.
- Replace damaged wooden sections. A lot of the termite damage consists of completely ruined and chewed off beams and wooden components. There is no practical way to fix a wooden beam when half of it has been consumed already so replacing it is the way to go.
- Add wood support to damaged sections. Often the termite damage to a wooden component is minimal enough to not require a replacement but still significant enough to require assistance. Adding wooden support beams, covers and adjustments is the best way to treat such situations but it’s also quite complicated – it’s important to make sure that the support you’re adding is adequate and won’t leave the entire construction compromised.
When should you call a professional to fix the termite damage?
Different homeowners have different skill sets and capabilities so we wouldn’t presume to tell you what you can and can’t deal with. However, fixing termite damage properly and expertly is vital for the health of your home, so we’d advise you to call in and consult with a professional in any case that involves more than just one slightly damaged wooden beam or component.
We’d also advise you to use the help of a professional termite exterminator service as they will both make sure that the infestation is 100% dealt with as well as brief you of the extent of the hard-to-see damage the termites have left behind. For anything significant, especially to load-bearing wooden structures, professional repair services are more than recommended.
Repairing termite damage is a tricky, expensive, and complicated thing. Leaving a damaged wooden structure unrepaired or unsupported can be very hazardous for a house even if the termite infestation has been dealt with so you should either prepare for some construction work or look for a professional’s help.