Since termites need to return to the soil at least once a day, the most efficient method of attack is to poison the soil surrounding the house by treating it with special insecticides designed for this purpose.
Several homes have concrete slab floors (porches, patios and garages) laid on the ground right next to the house wall. Termites oftentimes come up through the soil beneath these slabs and work their way into the house via cracks or open joints where the slab meets the house wall. The solitary way to poison the soil in this area is to cut holes throughthe concrete floor, then pour or pump the anti-termite solution through.
Since these termite-proofing techniques require a good deal of excavation, handling of possibly dangerous insecticides and careful measuring of chemical substances, most homeowners will discover it advisable to consult a professional exterminator if complete termite protection is needed—or if a termite infestation is suspected. If a reputable firm is employed, they will be fully equipped and trained to find the potential danger points and to take the necessary precautionary measures. They also will be able to apprise the homeowner about significant structural changes that should be made to get rid of defects which permit termites to enter.
Though the better way to ascertain whether termites are present is to call a reliable exterminator, alert neighbors so that they can also check for signs of activity themselves by making a deliberate examination of the premises at the least once a year. Here are some of the more crucial places to look:
(1) During spring and early summer watch out for swarms of flying insects or for clusters of discarded termite wings in or near the house.
(2) Scrutinize foundation walls—inside and outside—for signs of termite sheltertubes or tunnels. If any are seen, scratch them away. This would cut the termites from their source of moisture and those left in the wood will soon die.
(3) Keep wooden fences or trellises several inches outside from the house so that termites can’t use them as a point of entry. Check all lumber which is touching the ground, as well as those areas which are less than 6 inches above the soil. Dig into it with an icepick or sharp knife to see whether the inside is hollow or whether the wood looks soft and spongy.
(4) Check bare crawl spaces for signs of termite tunnels and for places where soil might have banked up against the wall. Be sure these spaces are well aired so that moisture can escape, because termites love dampness.
(5) Patch up all cracks in masonry foundations and calk openings around pipes which go through these walls.
(6) Do not pile firewood or scrap lumber against the house, and remove waste matter of this kind which might be buried in the soil near the foundation. Also pay special attention to basement window wells where debris tends to collect, giving termites access to basement window frames and damp soil.
Termites and Other Home Wreckers by Marguerite Rodger
The Complete Book of Home Inspection by Norman Becker
Termites and Borers: A Homeowner’s Guide by Phillip Hadlington and Christine Marsden
© 3/9/2011 Athena Goodlight on Factoidz