Termite prevention is probably not the first thing on our “to-do” list as we go about our daily administrative duties. It’s easy to put something that doesn’t cause immediate damage aside when faced with more pressing issues. That’s understandable, but while we ignore this silent pest, the cumulative damage can cause a serious problem. Even if it doesn’t make your top list of concerns, this article explains why it should at least be on your monthly list of chores and how you can save thousands in repair bills with just a little due diligence.
Types of Termites
First, it’s important to know that there are two different types of termites that can attack commercial structures:
Subterranean termites live in the soil and build tubes that connect their nests to the nearest wood structures to provide their food source. They can feed on anything that contains cellulose, such as cardboard and paper. They swarm in the first half of the year, looking for new homes to infest. You may notice that they have shed their wings around the base of your building once they decide to nest there.
Drywood termites don’t need moisture to survive and can literally infest the most inaccessible areas of your building. From cabinets to rafters, they burrow deep into the cracks of both wood and concrete buildings.
The following tips will help prevent both types of termites.
How to Prevent Termites in 5 Easy Ways
1. Remove Food Sources
Remove every source of decaying wood, or other cellulose containing material from your property. This includes old cardboard boxes, unnecessary papers, dead or dying trees, old building materials and rotting woodwork. Even if the material seems clean and uninfested, if it doesn’t need to be there, it should be removed.
Termites can cause severe damage in a matter of months, transforming a seemingly harmless pile of boxes into a six-figure repair bill. Also, ensure that any wood on your property that comes into contact with the ground of necessity – such as fencing, deck and foundation structures – is commercially pressure treated and in excellent condition.
2. Eliminate Points of Entry
Don’t let any wood in your structure contact bare soil. This is the type of opportunity that subterranean termites are looking for. Any exterior wood should be at least half a foot above ground level. Additionally, if the building has a crawl space, the support beams should be at least 18 inches above the ground so they can be easily inspected.
Cracks in concrete and masonry can be also dangerous points of entry for both subterranean and drywood termites. Fill the cracks as quickly and completely as possible, including those higher in your building. Unnoticed cracks in the upper levels of your building provide the perfect entry point for drywood termites to enter and infest rafters and eaves where they are not as quickly discovered.
3. Careful with that Mulch!
Many people forget that wood mulch is a great source of cellulose for termites to build large infestations. Since subterranean termites are willing to forage as far as 150 feet to find sources of food, you may want to consider alternative sources of mulch.
If you do still decide to use mulch on your landscaping plants, make sure they are at least two feet away from the building and that ALL woodwork is at least half a foot away from the soil as mentioned above. Ensure that your irrigation systems are also located at least two feet from your foundation so as not to provide an endless source of moisture.
4. Never Over-Water
If your watering system is running off onto concrete or bouncing off your building in addition to watering your landscape, you’re not just wasting water. You are potentially causing wood rot due to excessive moisture that will make your lower wood structures susceptible. Make sure that you aren’t inadvertently watering wood siding or stucco.
You can prevent additional moisture problems by ensuring that your gutters and air conditioner are in excellent condition. These items should be included in your termite prevention inspections. Air conditioner condensation often causes moisture to pool around building bases and provides a perfect entry point for subterranean termites. In fact, this is one of the first places that a competent termite inspector will check. Which leads to our last tip.
5. Have Your Building Inspected Twice a Year
In addition to your own monthly visual inspections, you should have your building checked at least twice a year by a trained professional who knows how to spot an infestation early. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but termites can damage buildings at an astounding speed. They have made family homes a complete loss in as little as two years and don’t need much longer to do the severe and extremely expensive damage to a commercial building. When compared to the cost of losing the entire building, termite inspections are a very small expense.
What Are the Benefits of Termite Prevention
The first benefit if termite prevention is obvious – you won’t lose your building to termites. But of course, there are other benefits to consider:
Termites can cause extreme hazards for the tenants living in or working in a building. If they damage important structures in your building, they can even lead to injuries. Termite prevention will ensure that you are not facing lawsuits of this type.
Termite prevention will protect your landscape trees as well. Many don’t consider the additional cost of treating landscaping trees that became infested because of a swarm. If they are infesting your property, they are likely infesting the landscaping as well. Falling trees can cause hazards or damage your building as well and replacing landscaping is expensive.
You won’t have to deal with the insurance companies. Surely some are better than others, but termite damage claims are particularly dicey. So dicey, in fact, that there are several lawyers throughout the nation that specialize in forcing insurance to pay on these claims. Better just to use the ounce of prevention than pay for the pound of cure.
How Much Does Termite Prevention Cost?
Your own personal inspections only cost your time, of course, so they are quite the bargain depending on hourly pay. The cost of professional services vary and can seem expensive at times, but the cost of tenting an entire building if they have gotten out of control is in the thousands to tens of thousands. Consequently, prevention is worth it.
Professional baiting services cost roughly $1.5 to $2 per square foot and chemical extermination comes at a similar cost. Inspections start at around $100 and go up depending on the size of the building. Some companies offer free inspections for smaller buildings and homes as well.
Regardless of whether regular commercial inspections are scheduled, a visual self-inspection should be conducted as often as possible, especially around the swarming season. This is the cheapest and most effective method of termite prevention available. Furthermore, with the five ways of preventing termites presented above, you stand a real chance of never having to deal with this issue.