Termites do billions of dollars in damage per year. A great deal of that damage is preventable. This page is focused on steps to help prevent termite damage when you build your home.
Being found in all 50 states and more prevalent in the south because of warmer climates makes them a major concern to the homeowner.
The greatest concern to the homeowner is the Formosan specie. The Formosan specie has been found in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
A single Formosan can consume 1000 pounds of wood in a single year, where the average termite will consume 7 pounds.
The Formosan specie is a non-native breed and it is believed that they were brought into the US during World War II on was ships bearing supplies from east Asia.
For more information review the following sites.
& Research Service
C. Agricultural & Natural Resources
Of course all termites are of great concern to the homeowner and especially to those of us that can encounter the veracious Formosan specie. This is why prevention and early detection is important.
When building your own home you have important choices to make concerning prevention. I will list the primary means of prevention below:
Chemical Barriers are most effective when added
prior to construction of your home. Organic Chlorine based chemicals were
used in the US until they were banned in the 1980's. This group of chemicals
proved to be very effective but were found to be harmful to the environment
New chemicals have been developed but do not
show the same effectiveness of the organic chlorine based chemicals.
Individuals can purchase these new approved
chemicals in some states and apply them. In most states the most effective
chemicals are not available to the public and a professional must be
employed for the application.
Specific methods of application vary with
chemical choice and site conditions.
It is recommended that a professional apply these
chemical for best results.
Resistant Building Materials
Termite resistant lumber. Pressure treated
chemical impregnated studs.
All lumber that is in contact with the
foundation, exposed to or near any soil should be treated. A topical
treatment is not sufficient. Studies show that termites will eat the center
out of lumber that is prayed with treatment alone.
Ideally the structure of the home is made of
steel studs (cost prohibitive).
At a minimum pressure treated lumber must be used on
contact surface with he foundation. Ideally the framing of the house can be
constructed with treated lumber or steel studs.
This in most cases proves to be very expensive.
Exposed concrete foundation acts as a good
physical barrier. A six inch minimum gap between the ground and the bottom
of the wall of exposed slab is recommended. This acts a a buffer zone
keeping termites from easily entering the home. Termites need moisture and
are very sensitive to dehydration. Thus they need a sheltered entry point
into your home, such as a crack in the foundation, a gap around a water
pipe, or dirt piled up against your foundation making contact with the
bottom of a wall. Exposed foundation also allows easy viewing of any mud
tubes that termites use to protect themselves from dehydration to travel
Slopping the grade away from your foundation
allows for good drainage and helps minimize termite activity. As I mentioned
above, they are very sensitive to moisture. They are drawn to moist
soil, and prefer it. Thus having a well drained area surrounding your
foundation makes for dry conditions and less activity. After home
construction, make sure when your final grade is being done around your house,
that you slope your soil away from your foundation for good drainage.
Many types of barriers are used to stop termites
from entering your home through the soil below into a crack or opening in
your foundation. Some of these include stainless steel wire mesh, granite
chips and other finely ground sharp materials.
Termite No - Nos!
Avoid Anything Next to Your Foundation or Piers
- Termites are on the hunt for any entry point into wood. As I mentioned
earlier, they must remain in a humid or moist environment, so never place
anything next to your slab or pier that will retain moisture. The termites
will travel under or through it into your house.
Never Allow Soil Against Your Foundation or Piers
- Termites travel easily through soil. If it is against your house they can
easily enter your house.
Never Pile Wood of Any Kind Near or Against Your House
- Any type of wood near your home will draw them to your house. Never
pile firewood or any other kind of wood against or near your house. If you
are storing firewood, do so in a rack above the ground and do not let it
touch your house.
Remove Scrap Wood From Construction
- Remove any scrap wood from your home construction site. DO NOT BURY ANY
WOOD around your home. It is a bad habit of many builders to bury trash and
wood after construction to keep from paying fees to haul it off. This is not
allowed in most regulated areas but is not watched closely in rural areas. Remember
any wood that is present draws termites and even more so if it is underground.
- Take the time to gather up any wood prior to final grade and remove it so
it does not get buried.
Repair Water Leaks Promptly
- Repair any water leak promptly. Remember termites like it moist so any
source of moisture will draw them. anything that makes wood and soil wet
near your home for extended periods puts you at higher risk for termite
I Have Termites What Do I Do?
Many treatments exist to rid your home of termites. I will list
them below by category:
Fumigate Your House (infestation indicated)
Chemical Treatments include,
liquids, foams and dusts that are directly applied to the affected area.
Residual chemical residue is present in the area that is treated. Kill rate
is not as effective. Usually holes must be drilled in the structure to gain
access to area of infestation. This form of treatment is usually used when a
smaller area is infested or in conjunction with other treatments.
In closing, I would highly recommend that you have a trained
licensed professional contractor inspect your property on a regular
basis. To find a qualified
Contractor for termites go to the Contractor Page.
For more Information on Building Your Own Home Go to Our
Building Knowledge Center.
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