Water Damage Or Termites. Tips From Professionals
Having a home means you sometimes have to deal with issues such as water or termite damage. While termite damage is a pretty common problem, it’s also a tough one to deal with. It can take a long time even to realize you have termites, and by the time you notice that there is damage or termites present, the damage can be extensive.
Water Damage Or Termites
Water damage and termite damage can look quite similar. Both often show as chipped or peeling paint, and the material is often moist. But you can spot termites due to their tunnels or maze-like structure, quite different than rotten wood. Both need a different treatment and repair.
In this article, I will further explain the differences between water damage and termites and how to spot either. Also, the difference between termite damage and wood rot, and how to get rid of termites will be shown.
- 1 Water Damage Or Termites damage
- 2 Termite Damage vs. Wood Rot
- 3 Old Termite Damage
- 4 Termite Damage Dust
- 5 What Does Water Damage Look Like On Wood
- 6 How To Get Rid Of Termites
- 7 Termite Damaged Wood
Water Damage Or Termites damage
When you notice damage to your home, it’s best to find out what type of damage you’re dealing with so you can make your repairs as soon as possible. Sometimes water damage and termite damage can look very much alike, and it can be hard to determine which cause is to blame.
Both with water damage and termites damage, your paint can start peeling or bubbling. But the reason for this is much different. A moist environment is also not a clear differentiator, as termite nests are high moist areas. They will damage moist wood much quicker.
We will look at the two main types of termites in the US, subterranean termites, and dry wood termites. And compare that with water damaged wood:
● Water damage
In case of water damage, look for the following signs:
- A leak or standing water
- Brown spots
- Wet spots
- Soft spots
- Warped flooring
- Bad odor
- Peeling wallpaper
- Chipped or peeling paint
- Flooring gaps
● Termite damage
Subterranean termites will tunnel through the wood. They prefer softer parts of the wood and will leave the harder parts. When you remove some of the peeling or bubbling paint, you can see the tunnels or a maze-like structure.
Dry wood termites also tunnel through the wood, but they usually come in smaller numbers. The damage is more local. The damage will spread slower.
Termites really consume the wood, they do not leave behind piles of sawdust when they create the tunnels. If you notice sawdust, you probably have carpenter ants.
Subterranean termites can come in large numbers, and the damage can spread rapidly. With rapidly, we mean several years, not months.
Signs of termites can include the following:
- Damaged wood. Tap on wood and listen if it sounds hollow
- Peeling or bubbling paint
- Buckling floors. If you have tiles, they can come loose.
- Windows or doors that are stuck
- Flying termite swarms. You can also spot the wings left behind.
Termite Damage vs. Wood Rot
If you are wondering if you have termite damage or wood rot, you will need to be able to identify the difference between both types of damage.
● Wood Rot
Wood rot occurs when the wood either has too much fungus or if it stays wet for too long. Both can result in severe damage and may require you to replace the home’s structure or the area where the damage is present.
● Dry Rot
Even though the name may suggest otherwise, dry rot is not caused by the wood getting too dry. It occurs when the wood has too much moisture in it, and it allows fungi to grow. The fungi break down the wood. The problem with this type of rot is that it’s hard to see until the damage becomes severe. Dry rot occurs from the inside out, so the damage is already done by the time you can see it.
● Wet Rot
This occurs when the wood gets too wet and starts to decompose from the outside in. This type of rot is the most noticeable, and it can be caught in time to fix it. In some cases, you may even smell a musty smell before you observe the wet rot up closely.
● Termite Damage
Termite damage can look a lot like rotten wood, but you will likely see the termite nest near the damage or elsewhere in your home. Termites look very similar to ants, and they live in large colonies. Termites break down the wood with their saliva and can do a lot of damage in a very short time.
Old Termite Damage
If you have bought a new home and are worried that there may have been termites in it or want to know if you should check for termite damage, there are some signs to watch out for.
If the previous owner was able to get rid of the termites, they might no longer be present. You should still be able to see where the termites were and even be able to check the severity of the damage. Some signs of old termite damage include,
- Chipped or damaged wood
- Mud tunnels
- Dead termites
- Frass or termite droppings stuck to the wood
- Cracks in the wood
- Musty smell
Termite Damage Dust
Termite droppings appear as a thin dust, and they can easily coat a structure and spread around in the air. Just walking through an area with termite droppings could be enough to stir them up and allow them to be inhaled.
While this may not affect some people, it can cause severe allergic reactions in others. If the dust is inhaled over long periods, it could cause asthma and other breathing problems. This is just one of the reasons why professionals recommend dealing with a termite problem as soon as possible.
What Does Water Damage Look Like On Wood
It’s not always easy to see a termite problem. Termites work quickly and can destroy the wood in no time at all. By the time you notice an issue, it could be severe. You may notice small notches in the wood and not think anything of it, but over time if not treated, the problem will continue to grow, and eventually, the wood will be destroyed.
It’s important to be able to identify wood damage caused by termites so you know what you are dealing with. Wood damage caused by termites can be identified by looking for the following signs,
- Blistered wood
- Hollowed out wood
- Wood that appears to be chewed or chipped
- Damp wood
- Discolored wood
- Mud tubes on wood
- Holes in the wood
- Wood shavings at the base of wooden structures
If you are unsure if you have a termite problem, ask a professional for help.
How To Get Rid Of Termites
If you have termites in your home, you may be looking for the best way to get rid of them before they can cause any severe damage or make any damage worse. Here are some of the best ways to get rid of and prevent them from being attracted to your home.
● Remove Stacked Wood Near Your Home
If you have any stacked wood near your home, it could be attracting termites. They may start building a colony in the stacked wood, but they will eventually find their way to your home. Removing the wood or keeping it a good distance from your home will ensure the termites stay away from your home.
● Repair Leaks
Termites prefer damp areas, so the wood nearby is already soft, so they start to work on it immediately. If you have wet or damp areas caused by leaking pipes or flooded basements, you will want to make all the repairs to prevent the area from becoming too wet and attracting termites to your home.
If your room is often damp, improve ventilation. Better ventilation helps against termites and mold.
● Treat The Wood
Before the termites appear, you can treat the wood with a 0.1% solution of permethrin that can be added to stains or water treatments. This will prevent the termites from being attracted to the wood and will ensure they don’t damage your home in any way.
You can also use certain types of wood that termites do not prefer. If you need to buy treated work or you need to treat the wood in your home, you will need to find a contractor to do it for you. You may also be able to order the spray and use it to treat the wood yourself.
● Don’t Put Mulch Next To Your Home
If you have mulch in your flowerbed, it could be attracting termites. While mulch may look nice next to a home, it can also attract termites that can destroy the wood in and under your home. Instead, move mulch to another area of your yard, or use mulch that is not made of wood.
● Termite Powder
If you notice there is already a termite infestation in your home, it’s a good idea to treat it with termite powder. You can buy this powder from most department stores or home improvement stores. It’s easy to apply and works well. Simply sprinkle the powder around the area where the termites are located. It can take a few days to work.
● Liquid Termite Sprays
You can use termite sprays that are applied directly to the termite colonies and the wood they are eating. You can find this online and in many home improvement stores. Be careful when using a spray, as it can be toxic if inhaled by pets and animals. It works quickly and is very effective, but you may need to treat the area more than once to kill all the termites.
If you aren’t comfortable killing the termites yourself, you may prefer to call an exterminator to do the job for you. This is an effective way to ensure the termites are killed and aren’t likely to return.
This can be a more expensive option, but it will likely be the most effective. If the termite infestation is severe, you may need to have the exterminator come to your home more than once to treat the area and ensure all the termites are dead. Keep in mind termites can always return if the area seems attractive to them.
Termite Damaged Wood
If you notice the wood in your home already has termite damage, you might be wondering what you can do with it. I recommend inspecting the wood to see if it is so severe that it needs to be replaced. Sometimes the damage is local and may not be severe. In that case, you could just repair it by replacing small areas.
If the termite damage is widespread, you may need to replace all the wood in a structure or in a specific area. If you aren’t sure about the severity of the termite damage, you may want to contact a contractor who can inspect your home and determine what can be repaired and what can be replaced.
If you choose to replace wood, I always recommend treating the are surrounding area with termite powder or liquid termite spray. You want to ensure as much as possible that the termites do not return immediately. When done, treat the new wood with the earlier mentioned 0.1% solution of permethrin. If not done before, also treat the older wood. This will prevent the termites from being attracted to the wood and will ensure they don’t damage your home in any way.