One of the greatest things about owning a masonry home is that termites will never move in, right? Nope. Those little winged, wood-boring insects can, and do take up residence in any type of construction, even concrete block and brick. No home is 100 percent termite safe.
Why, you might wonder, would termites even bother? If there’s no wood framework for them to gnaw on, what’s the attraction? The answer is inside the home. Most homes have wood somewhere. And where there’s a hungry termite, any wood is fair game.
How Termites Get Into a Masonry Home
Without a wood buffet outside to feast upon, it doesn’t seem likely that termites would break in at all. But every home has cracks. And cracks lead indoors.
Termites live in the soil. So if there’s a point of entry from the bottom of a house, such as a crack in a block or mortar, they have a tunnel to come through. There’s also a fiberboard expansion strip under some older masonry homes, and termites love fiberboard. They can also infest a masonry house from the top down. Where there’s an open soffit vent, dry wood termites can find themselves a new home.
Telltale Signs of a Termite Infestation
If you search for images of termites, you’ll see a lot of flying insects. But a winged termite around the home doesn’t mean there’s an infestation. At least not yet. When they swarm, they have wings. But when they settle in, the wings are dropped. If you notice a strange pile of wings and no insects to claim them, you’ve spotted a landing spot where termites moved inside. Indoors, termite tunnels can be much more obvious in a masonry house than one that’s stick built. Termite tubes, which resemble crooked straws made of mud, might travel up or down a wall or from the ceiling, says SitePro Home Inspections. Look for more traditional tunneling on interior woods such as baseboards, doors and furniture.
Where Termites Can Travel
Unfortunately, termites can go nearly everywhere. If they enter through a soffit vent, they can travel down to the foundation if there’s any wood to be found. And the same applies in reverse. Termites that enter through a crack in the foundation can work their way up to the attic, where they might find wood ceiling trusses or joists.
Termites can also travel through a house. That’s a disheartening fact that some homeowners find the hard way. Of course, you don’t inspect the furniture inside a house. But if there’s an infestation, the tunneling signs on wood furniture might not be difficult to spot on a walk-through.
No home is truly safe from termites, not if there’s any wood to be found inside or out. They’re hungry creatures. And where there is one, there are usually many, many more. If you spot surface tubes, chances are the homeowner will need to call a termite inspector or exterminator.
Van Hibberts, CMI
Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
IBHS Fortified Certified Inspector #FEV32561020109
ARA Certified Inspector #20302 (Applied Research Associates)
Florida-State Certified Master Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Inspector
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791
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