Look for signs of termites before they cause too much damage to your home
When you watch enough home improvement shows, you learn to live in fear of the dreaded termite. But the ‘T’ word doesn’t always have to be a sign of major disaster. By watching for the warning signs of termite infestation, you can catch them before they do too much damage.
From mud tubes to blistering walls, termite evidence can be elusive, but this guide will help you know what to look for.
What Are the Signs of a Termite Infestation?
Whether you’re just doing a walk-through or you notice a swarm of flying insects on your property, it’s best to get a handle on termites as soon as possible. If you think you might have a termite infestation, check for one of these top 11 warning signs you could have termites.
1. Mud Tubes
Mud tubes or shelter tubes can be spotted climbing up the side of your foundation. These are typically a sign of termite infestation. These pencil-width tubes act as bridges or tunnels between a subterranean termite colony and the wood in your home.
2. Discolored, Drooping Drywall, and Peeling Paint
The mud tubes behind the walls can lead to drooping and discolored drywall, which at first glance may appear to be water damage. Upon closer inspection, it could be the mud tubes behind the walls causing the appearance. Termite infestation can also cause your paint to peel or have a blistered appearance.
Because termites are attracted to moisture, be sure to pay special attention to any walls where there are pipes.
3. Buckling Floorboards
Similarly, termite damage can appear as water damage to wooden or laminate floors, resulting in swelling or buckling. Excessively squeaky floorboards can also be a sign, indicating the wood has been damaged and has shifted position.
4. Loose Floor Tiles
Not only are termites attracted to moisture, but they also bring it along with them. The moisture can cause floor tiles to loosen and even shift in place.
5. Flying Swarms
Many homeowners with termites might identify them at first as a swarm of flying ants, as they could appear to have black bodies and wings. One distinctive characteristic of swarming termites is that they have wings longer than their own body. If you do spot a swarm of flying insects, this could be a sign of infestation, but without identifying the insect, it can be difficult to tell.
Because termites chew off their wings and drop them before digging into the wood of your home, you may spot piles of wings. These can appear around baseboards and window sills and can be a definite warning sign you have termites.
7. Termite Pellets
After termites eat wood, they excrete it. The termite pellets take on the appearance of tiny grounds or dust piles, that are often described as coffee grounds or little piles of salt and pepper. The piles could be found on the floors, along the baseboards, or even falling right out of your wall (yuck!).
8. Maze-Like Patterns
If you spot maze-like patterns in any wooden furniture, floors, or walls, it is likely you have a termite infestation.
9. Crumbling Wood
Rotting, crumbling wood is a sign that the termites have been eating your wood and introducing moisture into the wood itself.
10. Tiny Holes in Your Wall
Tiny, pinpoint-sized holes (one-eighth of an inch or smaller) in your wall could be the exit holes that termites leave, specifically dry-wood termites. Subterranean termites use the mud tubes to exit.
11. Wood That Sounds Hollow
If you suspect termite damage, knock on wood. Because of the tunnels, they leave behind after eating the wood, the termites can cause the wood to sound hollow. If you suspect termites, try knocking on wooden structures in your home to see if it sounds hollow.
What Kind of Termites Do You Have?
There are actually three types of termites: drywood termites, subterranean termites, and dampwood termites. Both types of termites can cause damage to your home.
Live in underground colonies in damp soil
Use mud tubes (tunnels) to get from colonies to a food source (wood)
Cause damage that looks like water damage
Cause swollen floors, ceilings, and walls
Leave visible mazes in walls or furniture
Smell like mold or mildew
Are the most common in the United States
Build colonies inside the wood they feed on
Are found inside walls or furniture
Cause cracks in the veneer
Leave behind maze-like tunnels
Are often found in antique furniture
Are less common than subterranean termites
Are larger than drywood or subterranean termites
Are attracted to damp wood, such as wood damaged from a flood or leaking pipe
Can indicate water damage as well as termite infestation
Leave sawdust-like piles of feces
Are less common than subterranean termites
What Should You Do if You Have Termites?
Termite infestation doesn’t mean you need to panic: the damage may be isolated, but you won't know until you get a termite inspection. If you see any of the warning signs of termites infestation, contact a local pest control professional to evaluate the damage and come up with a termite infestation treatment plan.