Professional termite inspections are expensive and you still need to pay the professional regardless of if they spot an infestation. However, before you hire a professional to do a thorough inspection it would be more cost effective if you’d try your own hand at it prior to purchasing a home. The great thing about doing it yourself is that you can negotiate a price or even decide not to purchase a home based on your findings.
When conducting your own inspections there are a number of places you’ll want to investigate and you’ll need a few things to achieve this efficiently:
Coveralls: You need to have coveralls for any type of termite inspection, since there are many foundation walls, that are near the ground and so you’ll have a lot of dirt and mud to deal with. This is also true for crawlspaces.
A bright flashlight: You will also need a bright flashlight because you’ll be inspecting dark crawlspaces and basements. You’ll need good lighting to spot the signs of an infestation.
A pocket knife, a cutter or a screwdriver: You’ll need any one of these to pry at rotted wood that needs to be looked at more closely. It also helps to knock on wood to determine if it’s hollow.
What signs to look for?
You will want to start by looking out for swarmers. Every time a termite colony increases in size it cannot help but become more visible but so are the number of swarmers. These are flying termites that can be seen flying around windows and other light sources. These are a good indicator of a nest nearby. The main objective of these swarmers is to mainly mate and so they help to establish new nests in nearby vicinities. These flying termites as they are called are usually active in early Spring and near Autumn. If you see these flying insects near your home or a home you are inspecting do not panic it does not always indicate that the home has been infected, but rather that they are nearby. If they are in your home then only does it mean that you have an infestation. Many people will mistake carpenter ants for flying termites but they are both very different from each other. Pull up a picture of both on the internet and look at them closely prior to inspecting.
These are constructed mostly by subterranean termites and it’s because their nests are made in the soil. Their mud highways are easily visible because they can run vertical up a wall. These mud tubes as they are called often connect the nest to a food source. These are a vivid indication that the home has a termite infestation but even if there aren’t any mud tubes it does not mean that the home is not infested.
If you see mud tubes break them using a screwdriver or cutter to look at closely. If the infestation is active there should be live termites in the tubes but if they are cracked and dry it means that the nest is not active. If you see lots of wings left behind or some on the ground it means that the adult reproducing termites may be entering into the next development phase anytime. They shed their wings which is why you’ll see large piles of them around light sources, most commonly windows.
When you’re digging around you are bound to come across a number of live termites. There are mainly four types of subterranean termites i.e. primary reproductive, secondary reproductive, winged reproductive and soldiers. All of them are equally destructive but identifying them will help to ascertain what level of development the nest is in.
Identifying damaged wood
Damaged wood will have the look of having being crushed at its structural joints. When tapped with a hammer you’ll hear a dull thud. Just pry at the surface using the screwdriver and the damage underneath the surface will become visible.
Locations made of wood like galleries that have been overrun by subterranean termites will often be lined by mud and wood filling with an irregular pattern. In most cases the wood cannot be saved and will have to be replaced.
Manu Alias is a termite extermination expert with over twenty years of infield experience. His experience also includes termite inspections, rodent control and insect infestations. Manu currently works for Forensic Pest Control, a leading pest control company based in Sydney. Forensic Pest Control in Facebook, Google +