Hand pointing at a termite nest on wooden wall of a room

How Do You Get Termites in Your House?

There are few problems worse for new homeowners than finding out their property has become infested with termites. These small, cockroach-like pests will invade a home in droves, typically forming new colonies during the spring, and damage both the value and structural integrity of your home.

Because termites can go months or even years without being detected, the best strategy for avoiding termite damage to your property is to never allow the damaging pests to enter in the first place. Therefore, many home and property owners are left asking: How do you get termites in your house?

Like all organisms, termites require food. Termites survive on wood pulp which, unfortunately, can be found in abundance within homes, particularly older structures, from the basement all the way up into the attic or crawlspace. Secondly, termites require water to thrive and are therefore attracted to any moisture buildup in your home.

Underground Entry Points

As termite colonies can live underground, homeowners should be observant of existing or potential cracks in the foundation, particularly in areas where water collects and pools, as termites are attracted to moisture. Termites can fit through cracks as small as 1/32 of an inch, so even minor damage or wear can offer them a means into your home.

Areas, where wood makes contact with ground, are another common entry point. Therefore, homeowners with decks or outdoor wooden staircases should monitor these areas for signs of termite activity. Surprisingly, even firewood stored near the foundation can attract a potential colony. This applies to stumps, old fences, and other wooden debris left around your property. Soil and wood treatments can help deter colonies from using these access points, as can making sure wooden debris is removed or stored far away from your home.

Drywood Infestations

As mentioned above, termite colonies depend on wood pulp for sustenance, and features like wooden porch steps and decks can attract and feed invading groups of termites. However, outdoor wood is not the only food source termites will seek out, as dry wood within your home is equally vulnerable. Termite colonies look for crevices and cavities within the wood, which they use to hold and protect their nests.

Since these nests are difficult to detect, it is relatively easy for termites to slip in unnoticed and over a period of years grow into a colony capable of inflicting serious damage. Exposed floor beams in basements are one particularly vulnerable spot, as basements also often contain the necessary moisture for a colony to successfully survive and breed. This presents a serious risk, as said beams are structurally integral and both expensive and labor intensive to replace, so any damage to them poses a massive financial and safety risk to your home. Therefore, it’s important to keep your basement well ventilated.

Prevention

The best way of keeping termites from damaging your property is to prevent them from entering your home in the first place. Monitor your home and yard for signs of termite activity, and schedule inspections to identify weak points in your foundation and other areas that termites may enter through. Keep your lawn free of wooden debris, and consider protecting entry points with chemical treatments if necessary.