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Termites; are you unwillingly welcoming them into your home?

The architecture of a property may attract your eye, but termites are looking for more than style when they choose a home to attack. Termites are among the most destructive pests, causing billions of dollars in damage worldwide. A lot of homeowners do things around their home not realising that eventually, this will lead to extensive, and costly termite damage. To avoid making these mistakes, follow the advice in this blog.

WHAT ARE TERMITES?

Termites are small insects with sizes between ¼ and ½ of an inch (0.6 – 1.2 cm) that can be found anywhere on Earth, except for Antarctica. They have been around for millions of years and have an important role in the ecosystem – that of consuming rotting wood, dead plant material, and animal dung. Basically, they are cleaning mother nature, helping with the decomposing process.

WHAT DO TERMITES FEED ON?

Termites typically inhabit the top 30 cm of soil, constantly on the move in search of food and moisture. Chances are, you might be providing sources of food and moisture without even realising it. When termites find a good food source, thousands will follow, and you’ll quickly have a very serious problem on your hands.

Think of it like this; your home is major food source for termites, and once they’re present on your property, they’ll look for entry points in search of timber to consume. Having regular inspections for termites and reducing factors around your home that make it conducive for them, will make your house less attractive to termites.

MOISTURE ATTRACT TERMITES

Moisture is the number one thing that attracts termites to your home. If you have a water leakage problem in your bathroom, vanity or shower, or a plumbing problem under your slab or against the outside walls, it’s safe to say you might soon have termites – if you don’t have them already. Check your property for any signs of leaks, or sources of moisture, both inside and out.

Other sources of moisture that may not be so obvious occur on the outside walls, such as an air conditioning unit. Water that drips from the overflow pipe of an air conditioner is a familiar source of moisture. As a precaution, we recommend that air conditioners be plumbed into your down pipes so that the moisture is diverted. Also, make sure you direct all your down pipes into the storm water drain instead of the ground. You want to avoid water dripping against your walls edge at all costs.

MULCH IS A FOOD SOURCE FOR TERMITES

Untreated, organic mulch mounded around your house is a significant draw card for termites. Mulch is essentially timber that’s breaking down, and they will devour it. When you place it around your house, you’re essentially surrounding your home with an attractant. Some homeowners also put newspaper or cardboard under the mulch, which makes the situation even worse. You’re not only providing food, but also a very moist environment for termites. When mulch comes into contact with your walls, it not only holds moisture, but it provides a convenient entry point to your weep holes or cracks within the concrete slab.

Similarly, you need to avoid placing grass clippings around your wall edges as a form of mulch. While the foliage won’t attract termites because it’s not a timber source, it will trap moisture, and this can lead to further issues.

LANDSCAPING TIMBER IS A COMMON CULPRIT

All timber is a great food source for termites, so any wood on your property has the potential to attract them. This includes timber steps that come into contact with the ground, fencing or retaining walls. Using hardwood timber railway sleepers has become a popular material to use for retaining walls. They may achieve an attractive rustic look, but you’re inadvertently inviting termites to move in if you have them on your property.

FIREWOOD PROVIDES TERMITES WITH A FOOD SOURCE

The placement of timber around your property can also increase the risk of termites invading your property. Having firewood stored near your home is convenient, but many homeowners place it up against the edges of their homes, which can cause issues. When termites discover the stored timber, they’ll begin to feed on it and soon thousands of others will follow. The termites will naturally start to search for other food sources, and because the timber is placed up against the property, they’ll soon find an entry point. This may be through the wall, through a weep hole, within a crack in the brickwork or concrete slab, or beneath the concrete slab itself.

If you’re storing firewood, make sure it doesn’t come into contact with your walls. If you’re storing wooden furniture on your property, also be particularly careful where you place it. We’ve seen cases where items have been left in storage and become infested with termites without homeowners even realising it.

Many homeowners that live in raised homes often store wood or off cuts left over from deck repairs, fencing or house renovations under it. This is another way you might be providing a perfect food source for termites.

BE CAUTIOUS WHEN ORDERING TOPSOIL

Something to think about is the potential risk of transporting new termites onto your property when you buy topsoil for your garden. Fortunately, when termites are brought in from another area, it’s unlikely they’ll survive, because they need their Queen and colony to survive. However, if the topsoil contains winged reproductive termites (Swarmers), they could potentially reproduce. When termites are at this stage in their development, they’re primed to colonise new territory. It’s not a common issue, but it makes sense to buy topsoil from a reputable supplier to avoid the risk.

ARE YOU AT RISK?

When purchasing a new home, it’s crucial you get a pre purchase pest report. Your Building Inspector will investigate for termite activity or damage, as well as pest attack or damage. Using the latest Termatrac technology, your inspector will visually inspect all accessible areas of your property. Areas that are commonly inspected are roof cavities and subfloor areas, as well as the interior and exterior of the property. Before signing contracts, be sure to book in an inspection with Your Building Inspector.

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