Termites cause more damage to Australian homes than fires and natural occurrences. Termites cost Australians $1.5 billion per year and two out of three Australian homes have termite problems at some point. If they are not noticed, termites can cost up to $4500 damage and that is just the national average. Costs can be higher and $7000 worth of damage or more is not unheard of.
The best way to avoid the high cost of termite damage is to find them before they do too much damage. But how do you find termites in your walls? They will be eating the timber behind the walls and you may not notice them until it’s too late. There are ways to tell if you have termites in your walls, but you will have to take a careful look and even listen for them.
How to tell if you have termites in your walls
Termites in walls are probably invisible to the naked eye, but they can be there doing damage to your home nonetheless. These are some ways you can find out if you have termites in your walls:
Listen for them: soldier termites make quiet clicking sounds and can be louder if they sense danger. They will bang their heads against timber or shake their body to warn other termites and you can hear these sounds.
Tap your walls and listen for hollow sounding timber behind the walls. Termites eat timber from the inside out and if you tap your walls, you may notice a different sound coming from areas where there is termite damage.
Tight fitting doors and hard to open windows may be a sign of termite damage. The reason for this is because termites create moisture when they dine on timber and the moisture causes timber to warp, making doors and windows harder to open and close.
These are three ways to tell if you have termites in your walls, but keep in mind that termites have to gain access to the walls and you may be able to tell if your walls or any other timber in your house is at risk by observing termite activity.
How to spot termite activity
There are a number of ways to spot termite activity, but you may have to look closely to spot the activity. It will be worth it, because if you spot the activity early, you can avoid high repair bills. Look for:
Flying termites are called swarmers or alates. They are often the first sign of termites and if you see them, you can stop an infestation before it begins. Flying termites are male and female termites looking for a mate and then they establish a new colony, probably near your house. Termites usually fly in spring, summer and during periods of high humidity.
You might notice termite wings around the house. Flying termites drop their wings after they find a mate and the wings can be fairly easy to spot.
Look for termite tunnels. Termites travel through tunnels they make out of soil, saliva, faeces and other materials. They can be hard to spot, but if you see tunnels on a broken piece of wood near your house, you probably have termites in your walls and other places around the house.
Termite droppings are usually small black marks and a powdery, dark substance. They can be hard to spot, but look for them under the house or in the ceiling cavity and other places where there is timber.
Some termites are subterranean and can be hard to spot. They will travel underground to sources of food, which in their case is timber. They don’t care what type of timber it is and will happily eat the timber in your walls, ceiling cavity or under your house.
Although termites are called “white ants,” they are completely different from ants. Ants also discard materials from their nests, but they will be in conical piles rather than scattered around. You may want to get rid of ants, too, but an ant infestation is not as devastating to the home as a termite infestation.
What should you do if you see signs of termites?
Termites are very hard to get rid of. You can buy products that will kill termites, but they won’t destroy a termite colony and more termites will come into your walls, ceiling cavity or under the house. And don’t believe the stories you hear about termites not infesting homes with concrete foundations. Termites look for timber and will find their way to it even if there is a concrete foundation.
The best way to protect against a termite infestation is to have your home inspected by a professional termite treatment specialist. They know what to look for and may notice things you overlook. Ideally, you should have a home you’re thinking of buying inspected because you never know if termites have already infested a home. After that, have your home inspected once a year to make sure termites haven’t found your home.
If there are signs of termites, a termite treatment specialist will know what to do. Spot treatments rarely work and termite baits may or may not get rid of all termites. A termite specialist may set up a monitoring station first to determine where to place bait. This will be more effective than randomly placing bait under or around the house.
If termites are subterranean, the termite treatment expert may have to treat the soil around the house. This can be an expensive way to keep termites away from the home, but can be less expensive than the repair bill after the home is infested by termites.
When choosing a termite specialist, make sure they are licensed and insured. They should also have a good reputation in your area and offer a warranty on their work. You don’t want to be lulled into thinking a termite problem is solved when it may not be. A good termite specialist will help you choose the best way to get rid of termites and their warranty will ensure they will come back if they don’t eradicate the termites. Get the best service you can find and breathe easier. Your termite problem has been taken care of.