How To: Prevent Termites From Taking Over Your House

By Scott Sidler September 16, 2013

Termite damage Termites have been keeping carpenters annoyed and employed for millennia. These sneaky little creatures can turn a solid wood structure into a pile of toothpicks in short order.

Each year, termites and similar pests cause an estimated $30 billion in damage to crops and man-made structures in the U.S. alone. So, knowing how to prevent these little buggers is important. There are a few tricks you can do to ensure your old house is as safe as possible. Though no wooden structure is completely safe from termites these tips can save you money and frustration.

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1. Fix Leaks

Termites love soft wood! Much the same way we appreciate an especially tender steak, termites are looking for some soft tasty wood to munch on. When you have a water leak, whether from leaking pipes or an old roof, that water is causing wood to soften up. Wet wood is soft wood. And often times you’ll have a colony of termites setup shop right at the spot where the wood has been softened up from months or years of a leak softening the wood up.
Be vigilant about your old house’s preventative maintenance. Check for leaks annually in the attic and basement or crawl space. Fixing these leaks early is like slamming the door in the termites faces.

2. Use Borate

Spraying borate onto any wood prior to priming and painting is an excellent way to prevent termites, carpenter ants, and some wood destroying fungi from attacking your house. Products like Bora-Care are simple to apply, you just dilute with water and spray on any wood you want to keep termites off of. The sprays soaks into the wood and makes for a very un-appetizing meal. After it dries you can still prime and paint any treated wood.
The great thing about these sprays is that they only need to be used once. One treatment works for decades as long as the boards aren’t exposed to rain before being painted. And while many houses are treated with borate during construction these days you can also treat any existing house just as easily.

3. Use Old-Growth Wood

Yet one more reason to use salvaged materials to repair your old home. If you have a some damage to your house that needs repair try using reclaimed old-growth wood for the repair instead of the soft new wood from lumberyards and hardware stores. Old-growth lumber is higher in resins, has more rock hard “late wood”, is more stable, more rot-resistant and a slew of other benefits. All that translates to a wood that is less attractive to termites and other insects. Find a local architectural salvage yard or restoration carpenter and they can help you find the right wood for the job.

4. Get a Termite Bond

In case you’re not familiar with a how a termite bond works here’s the skinny. You pay a pest control company a couple hundred dollars every year to insure you against termite infestations. If they find active termites in your house they treat for free and usually pay for any damage caused by the termites. A termite bond works good because it transfers the risk of a termite problem to the pest control company and off of your shoulders. Another positive is that the company is motivated to come out and do spot treatments (also free with a bond) because if there is damage it’s their responsibility.

That’s it! The rest that you can do is to pay attention. If you see evidence of termites like rainbow looking wings around your windows or frass, which looks like poppy seeds but is actually the waste of termites. Either of those are sure fire signs that you’ve got termites. Keep an eye out and practice these tips and your house should be just fine for years to come.

14 thoughts on “How To: Prevent Termites From Taking Over Your House”

  1. Most historical resident in my neighborhood are replacing clay tiles with Shingles because no one seems to know how to work with clay tiles. The cleanup is a mess as well as getting rid of the undamaged tiles. Arkansas historical home owner. Any other uses for tiles like outdoor cookouts container?

  2. Do termites attack a house that is 9 years old or do they like older home? My house is built on a cement slab and we have no basement. What are the chances?

  3. I was considering the worms but it would seem that they might only work for subterranean termites. How would the worms gain access to drywood termites which do not have to resort to ground access for water?

  4. Parasites are another great alternative for killing these pests they are very small worm species that live in the garden areas but you can buy these insects for around twenty dollars and spray them around and or plant them , and use them right away after you purchase them.You can buy these little worms online and they can kill these termites and the whole colony in about forty eight hours they burrow into the host and the search for the larvae of the termite and they will kill the population significantly and stop damage to your home .

    1. Where do you get these worms and what happened to them after they clean up the termites? do they stay in the house?

  5. These are great suggestions for the homeowner. Termite control is something we should really invest our time and resources in, because damage can occur under your nose in no time.

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