Termites are small insects that resemble ants and work under the surface of your home, eating away the cellulose in your wood. They work from the inside out, making them unnoticeable to the untrained eye. Often, termites aren't discovered until an infestation has occurred and large amounts of damage have been done to your home. This is why it is recommended that you hire a termite inspector to thoroughly examine your home for signs of termites. There are several steps that a termite inspector takes during the inspection of your home.
In most areas of the Unites States, a termite inspector must be licensed and certified in order to perform a termite inspection. In addition to these requirements inspectors must remain up-to-date with the state's termite inspection rules and regulations, which change periodically. The most professional pest control services require that their termite inspectors are trained in termite biology and local building regulations.
When performing a termite inspection, an inspector wears personal protective clothing for crawling in dark, dirty places. This clothing usually consists of coveralls, a hard hat, gloves, knee protectors and a dust mask. Other necessary items for performing the inspection include a flashlight, screwdriver, masonry hammer, inspection mirror, moisture meter, ice pick, camera, ladder and a clipboard with pen and graph paper.
There are several clues a termite inspector looks for during the inspection. One of the most prominent signs of a subterranean termite infestation is the presence of mud tubes. These tubes are made by termites to cross open areas without drying out or becoming lunch to predators. Mud tubes are found on the inside and outside of foundation walls, in cracks of structural areas, under the siding of the house and on piers and pillars.
During the course of the inspection, the inspector will crawl under the house and examine the wooden support beams for damage. When termites eat wood, they work in the direction of the grain, instead of across it, leaving distinct markings. When termites feed on the wood, they also leave a substance resembling mud on the ends of it. A termite inspector will document this on his inspection forms, with a diagram noting the location.
Termite inspectors go deeper than just what they can see with the naked eye. Part of the job of a termite inspector is to tap on the wooden beams with a blunt instrument to hear if termites have damaged the inside of the wood. If termites are present, a hollow sound will be produced. Another method in which to tell if damage has been done is to gently probe the wood with an ice pick.
The job of a termite inspector doesn't end with the inspection. He will also check the moisture content of the soil and crawl space to see if the area is at high risk for termites in the future. When his inspection is complete, he will provide a recommendation for termite treatment, if necessary.