Termites: repairing pest damage in the winter

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ February 8, 2011

There are winter home improvement projects that take into consideration the down-time many contractors experience through the winter months. That means hardly any lag time between when homeowners make appointment calls and when the work gets done. It can be especially prudent to schedule routine, but absolutely necessary, home maintenance projects, even if the money is tight. The money is tight everywhere, which means some contractors may give you a good rate in the winter.

Yahoo Finance suggests this may be a good time to have a termite inspection, even if the weather is cold and the insects are in hibernation. Cold weather doesn't stop the hungry pest. One out of 15 homes in Chicago-where it's pretty darn cold right now-is infested with termites, according to U.S. Inspect.

Detect, eliminate and repair

A termite inspection typically takes less than an hour to complete. Even though you may not expect termites to go as high as the attic, inspectors look here, too. The pests love dry wood and are willing to travel to get it. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension reports that more than $2 billion is spent annually in America battling termites. Having annual inspections should be a permanent part of your overall home maintenance routine.

If you currently don't have a contract, you may want to bring in several contractors for an inspection and have them bid on the work and offer their best proposals to you for review. Even if there's a problem, a few days here and there as you go over the details won't really affect the outcome.

Evidence of termites

Termites, unlike ants, don't like to wander around in the open air. You can see direct evidence of their activities if you find mud tubes or tunnels on foundations and floor joists on the lowest part of the home. Sometimes, they appear in the ceilings of other floors, but these are "secondary tubes" typically built where there are moisture problems that allow entry to interior wood. If you find wood in your home soft enough to penetrate easily with a screwdriver or it sounds hollow when you tap on it, you may have trouble.

If you end up with a positive infestation after the inspection is made, ask about the extent of infestation and damage, what it will take to repair it, what kind of treatment is indicated to eradicate the insects and, of course, how much it will all cost. Even if you don't plan on putting your home on the market, you want to get the problem eliminated as soon as possible

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