Early warning signs of termite infestation

They might be tiny, but a termite infestation is a huge problem -  especially when it is your house on the menu. Commonly known as white ants, subterranean termites, are highly organised and interdependent creatures that are capable of eating through the wall and roofing of a newly constructed home within three months. If nothing else you have to admire their efficiency!

Although well known for their timber eating abilities, only one type of termite in the colony is actually capable of digesting wood: the humble worker termite. Worker termites do this thanks to a symbiotic organism in their gut, called a protozoa, and regurgitate the processed food to the other termites in the nest. When venturing outside of the nest, worker termites travel in mud tubes to protect themselves from their ancient enemy, the ant!

Artist's impression of Termite/ Ant rivalry 

Artist's impression of Termite/ Ant rivalry 

Termites thrive in warm, humid conditions, so with that in mind it is not surprising that Sydney is a termite hotspot. Although they favour built up urban areas, all of Sydney is at high risk of termite infestation, particularly those properties in close proximity to gum trees. 

Sydney homes are at high risk of termite infestation - map provided by CSIRO

Sydney homes are at high risk of termite infestation - map provided by CSIRO

An infestation is a serious matter, since, as mentioned before, termites can eat through wood with incredible speed causing significant and irreparable structural damage. Such damage can even, in the worst cases, lead to spontaneous collapse - as recently happened to a termite ridden carport in Hawaii. 

This carport has certainly seen better days. 

This carport has certainly seen better days. 

It is worth knowing that most insurance policies don’t cover terminate infestations as they are viewed as a preventable problem related to home maintenance. 

So what can I do to prevent termites from infesting my home? Well, since hiring a rag-tag gang of ant mercenaries to patrol your house for termites isn’t exactly possible, a better option is to keep an eye out for signs of termite infestation.

Things to look out for include:

  • Mud tubes, which are small tunnels made from soil running along the outside of your house
  • Tiny holes in wood
  • Small cracks in wood
  • Termite dung, these look more like sawdust than actual droppings.
A mud tube -  a common sign of termite infestation. 

A mud tube -  a common sign of termite infestation. 

Unfortunately, early detection and extermination isn’t much use if your house has already taken irreversible structural damage due to termites. If the structure has been weakened beyond repair then only one option remains: demolition. As well as disposing of the termite infested structure and materials, demolishing allows you to start again on a blank, termite-free slate. 

 

Shane Florio

Home Demolitions, 49-51 Queens Road, Five Dock, NSW, 2046