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Identifying Termite Damage Before You Buy A New Home

There is so much to take into consideration when buying a home.  Finding one that is near to your office, or to your child’s school, or even near your family may be an important factor for you.  Your home also needs to fit your specific needs; it should have enough rooms for you and your family (or your future family!), it should allow you the space you need for all of your belongings as well as comfortable corners to curl up with a book or a large and inviting space for big family parties or having guests over for dinner.  Along with deciding on these essential aspects of your new home, you also need your new home to be safe for you and your family.  This part of home buying doesn’t really qualify as the ‘fun’ part, but it is definitely a necessity; making sure that the floorboards aren’t going to cave in once you move in your entertainment center and that the radon levels are safe for you to breathe are very important factors to check on when buying your new home.  

As you look to buy your dream home, discuss the structural temerity of the building with the real estate agent you have enlisted. Making sure that the home was built to code is important, but checking for termite damage is also an important step in home buying. Termites can do a lot of damage to a home and sometimes the presence of termites is not obvious from your first walk-through of a property.  People can live in a home for years without realizing that termites are destroying the structure they are living in, so asking a seller about the presence of termite damage isn’t going to get you very far.  If you know the signs of termite damage, you will be better prepared to choose your dream home and having some prior knowledge when you are on the market to buy a new abode can help you find the perfect place to live that is structurally safe for you and your family to live in for years to come!

Typical Signs Of Termite Damage

You may already think you know what termite damage looks like.  If you’ve ever driven by an overgrown field that has a drooping and dilapidated old house nestled in the middle, you’re probably seeing years and years of the handiwork that these talented wood destroying pests can do!  Unfortunately, not all termite damage is quite this obvious! Subterranean termites are the pests that are responsible for most of the termite damage in St. Louis and as their name suggests, these pests live underground and only surface to feed and mate with other termites. So if you enter a home that looks perfectly nice, it could still have termite damage hidden deep within the walls.  When looking for signs of termite damage, look out for these particular indicators:

Mud tunnels on the outside structures of the house, including brickwork, walls, concrete slabs and other dense structural materials. Termites build these mud tunnels to travel through when it’s not easy for them to burrow through an object while looking for food and water.

The presence of termite swarmers inside the home.  These termites are the ones that reproduce and will often fly around in large swarms looking for mates. If you see these swarmers inside a building, that’s a clue that these pests have infiltrated the structure. Seeing their shed wings along window sills is also another sign of the presence of termites.

Wood damage is an obvious sign of the presence of termites. It can often look like water damage, or darkening of the wood, but sometimes termite bore holes are also present. If you hit the wood with a hammer or hard object and you hear a dull, thudding sound, you should have this examined for possible termite infestation.

Tiny holes with small piles of sawdust around them are also signs of termite damage. Often these holes are no larger than a pencil lead but they can lead to a world of damage inside the wood.

When it comes to looking for signs of termites, there are specific areas to check.  These places on a home will most often show signs of termites:

  • Exterior porches, doors and window facings, baseboards and hardwood flooring may show termite damage

  • Painted surfaces or wallboard surfaces may show unusual blistering caused by termites

  • The floor covering may have raised or split areas where termites have gotten underneath

  • The attic may have mud tunnels, water leakage, wood rot or damaged wood, which is inviting to termites

  • The top of the foundation wall where the floor and the wall intersect may have mud tunnels

If you have seen just one of these signs of termite damage in any part of the home you are considering purchasing, it’s time to start asking questions.  Ask the seller or the seller’s agent about any past termite damage.  If you don’t get any answers with this method, you should consider contacting a pest control professional for a termite inspection.  These professionals can tell you definitively whether or not there is a termite problem in this home and then you can decide whether or not you are still interested in the property.

Minor termite damage in a home may seem like nothing to you; especially if it’s not immediately obvious. But purchasing a home that has minor termite damage definitely has it’s drawbacks. Because termites do most of their damage inside walls and floors or ceilings, there may be a lot of damage that can’t be seen. And if you can see some damage from termites in the home, there’s a good chance these insects were destroying the wood of the structure here long before damage was obvious. Calling in a professional termite inspector is the best way to find out if more termite damage is lurking inside the structure and it’s the only way to know for certain if this house is worth your time and money.

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