Preventing Termites

Eastern Subterrranean Termites Eastern Subterrranean Termite
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.

USDA Agriculture & Research Service

U. 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

  • 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 and humans.

  • 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.

Physical Barriers

  • 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 above ground.

  • 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 infestation.


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)

  • Fumigation normally involves tenting your entire house and introducing toxic smoke into the structure. No residual is left after fumigation. This treatment is common and very effective when your home is infested. You must leave your home for 2 to 3 days.

Heat Treatment (infestation indicated)

  • Heat Treatment involves introducing hot air and raising the temperature of your home to at least 120° F. No residual chemicals of any kind. You do not have to move out of your home. Damage can be done to heat sensitive items in your home.

Chemical Treatment

  • 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.

Nitrogen Treatment

  • Nitrogen Treatment is effective if applied correctly. No residual is present after treatment. Holes must be drilled for proper application.

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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