What’s Eating My House? 7 Signs of Termites All Homeowners Should Know

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Every year, termites cause more than $5 billion worth of property damage to homes all across the country. And unfortunately, the cost of completing termite-related repairs is almost never covered by homeowner insurance.

With these things in mind, it’s very important for homeowners to be on the lookout at all times for signs of termites. If you even suspect that you might have a termite infestation on your hands, you should contact a termite control company right away and have them come out to your home to inspect it.

Termite infestations are a big problem for many people living in Memphis and other parts of Tennessee. You can prevent them from becoming an issue for you by monitoring your home for signs of them and seeking professional help if you spot any of them.

Here are seven signs of termites that all homeowners should know.

1. Tunnels

There are two types of termites that are typically found in and around homes in the Memphis area. One type is called drywood termites, and the other is called subterranean termites.

Subterranean termites tend to live underground, and they can be difficult to detect until you have a full-blown infestation in your home. But there is one simple way that you can spot them without laying eyes on the termites themselves.

Subterranean termites are known to build large colonies underground with tunnels connected to them that lead above ground to food sources. These tunnels are made using some combination of mud, feces, and saliva and are often dry and brown.

Look for these tunnels around the foundation of your home. If you see even just a few of them near your foundation, it could very well mean you have termites living within the vicinity of your property.

2. Hollow Wood

Most homes have wooden beams running throughout them that provide support for flooring and ceilings. These wooden beams make the perfect home for the aforementioned drywood termites.

Drywood termites will burrow deep down into these wooden beams and hollow them out. This can make the beams and whatever is resting on top of them weaker than they should be.

The problem is that, more often than not, homeowners don’t see any damage done to the wooden beams in their houses. So they don’t think any damage exists. But you can hear when wood has been hollowed out by drywood termites.

Get into the habit of tapping on any wooden beams that you can access in basements, crawlspaces, attics, and more. If you tap on them and they sound like they’re hollow, it could be one of the signs of termites. You’ll want to bring in a pest control company to do a more thorough inspection of your property.

3. Strange Sounds

Drywood and subterranean termites are both on the smaller side. They’re so small, in fact, that you might not think they’re capable of making any noise that humans can hear.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth! If you listen hard enough, you can hear termites making sounds at almost all times of the day and night. So-called “soldier” termites will tap their heads against wood as a way of sending out signals to their fellow termites.

You might not be able to hear termites making sounds if your home only has a small infestation. But as an infestation grows over time, it’s not out of the ordinary for termites to make so much noise that it’s impossible to ignore it.

4. Wings

Did you just come across a pile of discarded wings in your basement, your crawlspace, or another area of your home? This is one of the most obvious signs of termites.

When termites are in the process of reproducing, they’ll discard their wings and leave them behind in your home. This does not mean that the termites have moved on to greener pastures, though. It just means that they’re getting ready to add even more termites to the mix in the near future.

Here are just a few of the places where you might find wings from termites in your home:

  • Stuck in spider webs in your basement and in corners of your home
  • Sitting on windowsills in different parts of your home
  • Piled up around the foundation on both the interior and exterior of your home

You might be tempted to try and clean up the wings as you find them. But consider leaving them right where they are so that a termite control specialist can see what you found. They’ll be able to positively identify termite wings and use the wings to track down the source of your problem.

5. Droppings

As we mentioned earlier, there are some termites that will use their own feces while building tunnels to transport food. But they only need so much of it to put their tunnels together.

Any droppings that termites don’t use to create tunnel systems will end up sitting outside of their colony for the foreseeable future. Termites can make a mess and force you to clean it up. The droppings will look like chewed up wood and will be piled in corners and along the edges of rooms.

The good news is that, if you find termite droppings, you’ve likely found the entry to a termite colony. But you’ll need to spring into action and call on a pest control company to prevent that colony from getting any bigger than it already has.

6. Peeling or Bubbling Paint

Have you noticed that the paint that sits on top of a wooden surface in your home appears to be peeling or bubbling?

In some cases, this could mean that you have water damage just underneath the surface of the paint. You’ll need to get in touch with a plumber as soon as you can to address that issue.

But in other instances, peeling or bubbling paint can mean that termites have chewed through the wood just underneath the paint. And that will be a job for a pest control specialist.

7. Swarms

About once or twice every year, most of the mature termites located within a colony will leave the nest inside of a home and form swarms. These swarms tend to take place sometime in the spring or fall, depending on what type of termite is involved.

Swarms happen very quickly, which makes it easy for homeowners to miss them. But if you ever see one just outside your home, there’s a good chance the termites in the swarm were living somewhere in your house.

You’ll want to make a mental note of when and where the swarm took place and pass that information along to your pest control company.

Are These the Only Signs of Termites?

As you can see, there are so many different signs of termites for homeowners to look out for. But believe it or not, the seven signs listed here are only the tip of the iceberg as far as termites are concerned.

There are many other signs that’ll also let you know you could be dealing with a major termite infestation. Check out several more signs that you should be aware of within your home:

  • Discolored drywall that appears to be drooping down
  • Tiny holes located in the drywall
  • Floorboards made out of either wood or laminate that are buckling
  • Floorboards that make a lot of unexplained noise when you walk on them
  • Loose tiles in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Windows and doors in your home that are stuck in the closed position
  • Odd patterns forming in wooden furniture as well as on flooring and walls

Bottom line — if you see something in your home that seems like it could be a sign of a termite infestation, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want to do is put off calling on a pest control company until it’s too late.

How to Avoid Termites in the First Place

One of the reasons why termites have turned into such a big problem for so many people in Tennessee and other parts of the country is because people aren’t proactive enough about keeping them out of their homes.

Americans make so many mistakes as far as termite control goes. They leave wooden building materials sitting right outside of their homes. They ignore blatant cracks that open up in their foundation. And maybe worst of all, they fail to recognize the signs of termites that we’ve mentioned here.

If you own a home, recognize that termites could be out to get you. All it takes is a few of them to create a termite colony and plague your home with problems.

Rather than letting a small termite infestation turn into a big one over time, inspect your home on your own every now and then to see if you notice any signs of a termite infestation. It’ll make your home safer and help you avoid sustaining damage to it.

Give us a call today to obtain a free estimate on our termite control services.

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is President of Inman-Murphy Inc., one of the fastest growing pest control companies in Memphis, TN.