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What Are the Different Methods of Termite Detection?

A mud tube is a sign of termite damage.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 June 2014
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While many people believe that the only way to determine if a home is infested with termites is to call on professional services, the fact is that anyone can look for a few telltale signs indicating the presence of a termite infestation. These simple methods of termite detection were often used in the days before pest control services were a normal part of home maintenance. For the most part, these methods of termite detection rely on the use of both sight and sound to identify the presence of termites.

One of the easiest means of termite detection is to make a periodic inspection of the area directly around the exterior of the home. When termites are present, there is a good chance that a fine powder resembling sawdust will be found at various points close to the exterior walls. Depending on the severity of the infestation, there may also be small amounts of wood pulp mixed in with the sawdust. While there are other pests who could be causing this phenomenon, it is a good idea to call a pest control professional and have the issued addressed as quickly as possible.

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Another method of termite detection relies more on sound than sight. As termites begin to eat into wood structures, the weakened structure of the wood will cause floors to creak with more frequency. Walls that are infested with termites will also produce a hollow sound when struck. Unfortunately, many people attribute these changes in sounds to the settling that structures tend to do over the years, and don’t call a termite exterminator until a significant amount of damage has taken place.

One proactive method of termite detection involves doing a personal inspection around the floorboards and woodwork on a regular basis. Along with tapping to see if the wood produces a hollow sound, it is also a good idea to look for what appear to be pinholes in the surface of any type of wood architectural elements in the home, including molding along the ceiling or chair rails. At the very least, inspections of this type should take place in the spring and fall of each year, although a quarterly inspection is often a good idea in areas that enjoy warmer weather throughout the year.

For homeowners who do not feel competent to conduct their own termite inspections, contracting the services of a termite inspector is a great idea. The inspector can use modern equipment to manage the process of termite detection, get an idea of the extent of the, and make it possible to plan an effective approach to exterminating the pests. Homeowners can often establish ongoing arrangements with inspectors to conduct a semi-annual or quarterly inspection for a flat rate per calendar year.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

When we had termites, we first noticed the sawdust like powder around the house. That's the powder the termites create while munching on the wood. And then we noticed that there was a leaking pipe under the house which really confirmed the termites for us. Some termites only eat moist wood because that's how they get their water requirement. Some termites can feed on dry wood because their system works differently. Those termites are only found in certain parts of the country though.

So if there are leaking pipes around the house, it's a good idea to get them fixed and check for other signs of termites.

donasmrs
Post 2

@candyquilt-- There may be but I don't think it's very common. So it's probably not the most reliable sign of termites out there.

Termites lie inside wood, they basically eat wood from inside out. So technically, there may be no signs on the outside of the wood at all. This is why many people prefer the sound test where they hit the wall with something heavy and listen for a hallow sound.

If you're not very experienced with this, you could ask for a professional to check the house the first time and ask them about which signs to look for.

candyquilt
Post 1

Will there be small holes in wood structures if there are termites? Is this a reliable sign?

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