Practical Ways to Deter Termites

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It is always easier to prevent termites from damaging your home than to repair damage after they have feasted on your home. Use these tips to make and keep your home termite free!

Eliminate wood contact with the ground around your foundation. Many termite infestations result from structural wood being in direct contact with the soil. Earth-to-wood contact provides termites with easy access to food, moisture, and shelter, as well as a direct bridge into your home. Wood siding, latticework, door and window frames and similar wood items should be at least six inches above ground level. Posts or stairs that are embedded in concrete are also vulnerable to termites since they usually extend all the way through the concrete to the soil. Wood which has been pressure treated is not immune to termite attack; termites will enter pressure-treated wood through cut ends and cracks, and will also build tunnels over the surface.

Don’t let moisture accumulate near the foundation. Termites are attracted to moisture and are more likely to “zero in” on a structure if the soil next to the foundation is consistently moist. Water should be diverted away from the foundation with properly functioning gutters, downspouts and splash blocks. Leaking faucets, water pipes and air conditioning units should be repaired, and the ground next to the foundation should be graded so that surface water drains away from the building. Homes with poor drainage may need to have tiles or drains installed. Lawn sprinklers and irrigation systems should be adjusted to minimize water puddling near the foundation.

Have your crawl space properly vented. Local building codes endorse adequate venting. Keep vents free of leaves, dirt, and debris, and unobstructed by vegetation. The installation of polyethylene sheeting over about 75 percent of the crawl space soil surface will further control moisture and humidity.

Never store firewood, lumber or other wood debris against your home’s foundation or inside the crawl space. Firewood, lumber, cardboard boxes, newspapers, and other cellulose materials attract termites and provide a source of food. Vines, ivy, and other dense plant material touching the house should also be avoided

Use mulch sparingly, especially if you already have termites or other conducive conditions. Many people use landscape mulch for its aesthetic and plant health benefits. Where mulch is used, it should be applied sparingly (2-3 inches is usually adequate), and should never be allowed to contact wood siding or framing of doors or windows.

Consider having the structure treated by a professional pest control firm. Houses have many natural openings through which termites can enter, most of which are hidden. While heeding the above measures will help make the house less attractive to termites, the best way to prevent infestation is to protect it with a termiticide.

Preventively treating a home for termites is a reasonable investment for most homeowners. By having your home annually inspected under the terms of a termite warranty, and by paying the annual renewal fee, you are ensuring that your home is covered by the warranty.

Source: Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture