Termite Damage


Termite damage to a sill plate (photo courtesy of United Exterminating Company)Subterranean termites annually cause many, many millions of dollars in damage to homes and other wooden structures in the United States and around the world. Over time, a termite colony can literally reduce a home to sawdust.

Very often, homeowners don't realize that they have a termite problem until thousands of dollars worth of damage has occurred. Termites often attack from within walls, in the gaps between a house's framing and the exterior brick veneer, or inside ornamental columns or posts. Their secretive habits and tiny size often prevents their being noticed by untrained people until extensive damage has already been done.

Termite damage to a floor joistLeft untreated, termites can cause severe damage that threatens the structural integrity of a building and the safety of those who occupy it. Termites can undermine a building's structural stability, and have even been known to cause some buildings to collapse in very severe cases.

If you have reason to believe you may have a termite problem, you should call a professional to have your home inspected. Expect to pay a nominal fee for this service, usually in the $75.00 to $150.00 range in most of the U.S.


Other Types of Wood Damage

Not all wood damage is caused by termites. Skilled exterminators must know how to distingush termite damage from other types of damage, such as the following.


Water-damaged woodMoisture Damage

The wood in the picture on the right is moisture damaged. It appears soggy and "rotten," but there are no galleries. There may be mold or mildew present.

(Photo courtesy of Randy Penn, Envirochex, Dallas, Texas.)



Carpenter ant damage to a joistCarpenter Ants

This wood has been damaged by carpenter ants, not termites. Note the smooth, clean galleries, which look almost as if they had been sandpapered. Termite galleries, by contrast, are usually rough, often with bits of mud and debris in them.



Powderpost beetle damagePowderpost Beetles

This damage is due to powderpost beetles. Powderpost beetle damage is easy to miss, however, as very often all that's visible on the outside of a timber are little tiny holes, about the size of a pinhead.

But in the meantime, the beetles are devouring the wood from the inside out; making powderpost beetles another serious wood-destroying insect problem that must be handled by a professional, usually by fumigation, although some infestations can be treated using other methods such as borate treatment.


Next: Termite Control