Termites are among the most damaging pests that can affect your home. A homeowner who discovers termite damage can expect to spend an average of $3000 in repairs, and termites cause up to $30 billion in damage to structures and crops across the country annually.
Because termite damage can be advanced by the time you discover it, your best bet is to keep termites away from your home in the first place. Unfortunately, many homeowners make mistakes that actually attract termites to the home. Take a look at some ways that you might be mistakenly laying out the welcome mat for termites.
Mulch can help keep your plants healthy by keeping the soil around them moist. However, the mulch also provides cover for all kinds of insects, including termites. Like many insects, termites are attracted to dark, moist environments. Termites not only like moisture but are also skilled at tunneling. If the moist soil underneath the mulch comes close enough to the house, they'll tunnel right into it.
Many homeowners mistakenly believe that if you avoid using wood mulch, you can avoid termites. While it's true that termites eat and make their homes in wood, it's not wood that attracts termites to mulch. It's the moisture of the soil underneath the mulch. That means that gravel and rubber mulch can attract termites just as easily as wood or bark mulch.
Your best bet is to create a buffer zone between your landscaping and your home. Your mulch cover should stop about a foot away from the house. You should keep the soil adjacent to the house dry. Position your sprinklers so that the water doesn't hit the house or the soil in your buffer zone.
Make sure that you routinely rake the mulch in your yard so that it can aerate, and if you live in a humid climate where the soil tends to stay damp, limit your mulch layer to 2 inches or less.
Cleaning out the gutters is probably not your favorite chore, but it's an important one. Not only can clogged gutters cause damage to your roof, but they can also attract a variety of insects, including termites.
When your gutters are clogged, water builds up inside of them when it rains and soaks the wood around them. The parts of your roof that are soggy are the perfect invitation for termites, who can use the wet, damp wood as an easy entry point into your home.
Clogged gutters can also create entry points for termites near the foundation of your home. When gutters are clogged, the water spills out of the sides instead of flowing through the gutter systems and out of the downspouts, which should be extended to direct the water away from your home's foundation. Water that spills out of the sides of a clogged gutter will wet the sides of the home, creating favorable conditions for termites.
If there are termites inhabiting a tree near your property, they also may find their way into the gutters when small branches break off and land in the gutters during a storm.
To keep termites out of your gutters, make sure that water can flow through the gutters freely and that they don't become backed up by leaves, branches, and other debris. Clean your gutters out regularly, and considering installing gutter shields to keep debris from clogging them up and insects from getting in.
There's nothing like lighting a fire in the fireplace on a cold or snowy night to help you feel cozy and warm. Unfortunately, the wood that you use in your fireplace could be the reason that you end up with a termite problem.
This usually happens when homeowners stack wood against the side of the house. It seems like an easy solution — using a wall of the house for support prevents the wood stack from falling, and it also keeps the wood close by so that you don't have to go too far to get it when you want to light a fire.
The problem is that the wood stack may contain termites, and when the wood is stacked against the house, termites don't have to work too hard to get the wood in your walls. While your fire is keeping you warm, termites could be tunneling through your walls.
Your best bet is to stack the wood somewhere else on your property, a distance away from the home or any other structure. If you can't do that, consider building a stand from metal or concrete slab to store the wood in, and position this at least a few feet away from the house.
Even if you take preventative measures, it's important to understand that termites may still find their way into your home. Regular inspections and termite control from a pest control service in your area is the best way to prevent termite damage.