How to tell if you have termites: 8 signs to look for
Would you know if you had a termite infestation in your home? Fortunately, when termites have moved into a structure, there are always a few telltale warning signs of the new colony.
It’s important to be observant of these signs and call for a professional termite inspection early on if you find termite damage. In this article, we will explain the most common signs of termites, the best ways to handle a termite infestation, and how to prevent termites in the future.
What is a termite infestation?
Termites are small insects that look like white ants. They measure about a half-inch in size and can easily be seen with the naked eye (when they surface at least). Most of the time, these bugs are found within their colonies, often eating into the walls, floors and roofing systems of wooden home structures.
Because termites eat wood (and other dead plants), they are drawn to any wood structure. If they invade your home’s framing, they can wreak havoc on the stability of the building. This is why it’s essential to be familiar with the signs of termites as a homeowner and address them with professional pest control services right away if you discover signs of termite activity.
8 signs of a termite infestation in your home
Whether your neighbor recently experienced a termite infestation, or it’s simply springtime and you want to be sure your home is healthy, you can perform a DIY inspection by looking for the signs of termites discussed below.
Stuck windows or doors
Windows and doors often include wood components that are easily accessible to termites, making these one of the first places termites will enter the home and cause you to notice damaged wood.
You may find that a window or door that used to work just fine is now getting stuck or will not open or close correctly. Termites can cause this by eating away at the wood and warping the window or door frame.
Damage under paint or wallpaper
Although this type of termite damage is most often found during a home renovation project, you can look for the signs anytime. Termites will tunnel through the wood and cardboard beneath your paint or wallpaper, creating thin lines in the wall and tiny holes at any point where they exit.
Blisters in wood flooring
When termites have infested your wood flooring, you will likely see damage that looks similar to water damage. As the termites eat away at the wood underneath the surface, pockets form and create blisters in the floor.
You may need to call for pest control ASAP if you see these guys flying around. Termites are similar to ants in that they have a hierarchy of colony members, including a queen and swarmers.
The termite swarmers are the colony’s winged members responsible for reproduction. They leave the colony during the spring and fall, flying around to mate with one another. If you see these flying termites around your home, it’s almost a sure sign that you are dealing with a termite infestation.
These can be difficult to recognize if you haven’t seen them before, but if you keep an eye out for small, flylike wings, you could discover a termite infestation. Discarded wings show up after termite swarmers have finished their mating flights. The swarmers shed their wings and leave this evidence of their infestation behind. Wings can be caught in spider webs or lying around on windowsills and other surfaces.
Subterranean termites, one of the most common types of termites found in homes, prefer to remain in a cool, dry environment. When traveling from the ground up to your home, they create mud tunnels to travel through. If your home has been infested by subterranean termites, you may see these tunnels or tubes on the ground against the walls outside your home.
Also known as frass, termite droppings are another sure sign that you should call for a professional pest control company to assess your home. Frass looks similar to sawdust, except it’s typically darker. It is caused by the drywood type of termite, which pushes its feces out of holes in your home’s walls, creating a buildup on your home’s exterior. Drywood termites are found in southern coastal U.S. states. Homeowners in the northern region will likely not find this type of termite in their area.
Head banging or chewing noises
Termites might be small, but they can still make quite a ruckus. If you put your ear close to the wall, you may hear their activity. Soldier termites, for example, use head banging as an alarm to warn the colony of danger, and this can be heard if your room is quiet enough. You may also hear worker termites chewing away at the wood within your walls. Their strong, chomping jaws make a surprisingly audible sound.
How long does it take for termites to cause damage?
One of the major challenges with combating termites is that they can go undetected in a home for years. When termites first enter a structure, there are very few signs. As a colony matures over three to five years, those signs begin to surface because millions of termites have been born and now live within the colony.
Unfortunately, by then, much damage has likely already been done. Due to the difficulty in detecting termite infestations, more than $5 billion in property damage is caused by termites every year.
How do termites damage your home?
Termites get most of their nutrients from cellulose, obtained by eating dead wood and plants. They are also known to eat through other materials, such as cardboard, paper, drywall and living trees. Because many homes are built with wood frames, these structures are prime targets for termite infestations.
Termites typically enter the structure of the home through any gap in the foundation or siding or a weak point in wooden windows or doors. From there, they will eat through any part of the home that they find edible. This creates a weakened wood structure that can eventually buckle and crack.
What to do if termites are damaging your home
Termites require professional extermination, no matter how small the infestation. If you see signs of termites, we highly recommend calling a local pest control company as soon as possible to assess the damage and help you with the next steps for termite treatment. Termite extermination is complicated, so it isn’t recommended to DIY.
Do termites go away on their own?
Termite colonies are a force to be reckoned with, and they do not go away on their own. When your home becomes infested with termites, you will need to call a professional exterminator.
How to prevent a termite infestation in your home
No sign of termites in your home? Great! Keep it that way by using these helpful tips for preventing a termite infestation before it happens:
- Never allow any wood-to-ground contact in your yard.
- If you install a deck at your home, use only pressure-treated wood or vinyl.
- Practice good home maintenance, like fixing leaky gutters and other moisture problems.
- Trim overhanging tree branches or large bushes away from wooden structures.
- Seal any gaps around the exterior of your home.
Protect your home from costly repairs with Cinch
Hopefully, you won’t have to call your local exterminator with a termite problem anytime soon, and Cinch Home Services can help make sure of that. With a Cinch home warranty plan, you can be covered for the cost of regular maintenance and repair services needed to stave off the conditions that attract termites and other home pests.
Cinch’s Appliances plan is a highly recommended option for homeowners concerned about termite control. By upkeeping your home appliances, especially those that use water, termites will not be attracted to your home. This plan even includes a free water sensor to help you detect leaks right away, maximizing your ability to prevent termites from finding a feast in the moist, wooden areas of your property.
Additional plans are also available, allowing homeowners to choose the ideal protection plan for their specific needs. Request an instant quote to get started. The professionals at Cinch are ready to answer any questions and make sure you receive the best protection for your home.