Can I “Termite-Proof” My Home?
Throughout North America termites pose a potential threat to any wood structure. In our industry we are sometimes asked- can I protect my home from termites- indefinitely? The short answer is yes, or maybe. In my opinion, a better question to ask is do I need to protect my home from termites indefectibly? You see, different species of termites require different environmental conditions, so, given where you, or we live, the rate at which termites can do damage to a home or structure can vary.
Today we will focus more on the species of termite that we most often discover in the Greater Sacramento Area (which varies drastically from even the relatively close-by Greater Bay Area or Southern California). In Sacramento, we most commonly come across subterranean termites. As the name indicates, these termite colonies are established below ground, in the dirt. The queen lives there and the survival of the colony is solely dependent on keeping the queen alive and producing more termites, that will eventually “swarm” or fly out in search of a mate and establish a new colony. To protect against subterranean termites the goal is to establish a perimeter around the foundation of a structure to keep them from reaching the cellulose (wood) members of the structure. There are a few methods of obtaining this- a perimeter soil treatment, where termiticide is injected in a controlled manner to the soil surrounding a structure or by setting up a series of “bait stations.” Bait stations are becoming more and more popular- they are a good way to “feel” protected from a termite infestation- however, since there are “gaps” between the stations in theory, termites can still invade. It is only fair to say, that the vast majority of companies that offer termite bait stations also offer a guarantee of up to $1M in the case of an infestation. Termite bait stations require periodic monitoring and require a recurring service fee- be advised, if you have a bait station that is not properly monitored, you may not be protected, often times the bait stations are not filled with termiticide until termite activity is detected.
The other species of termite commonly found in the Sacramento area is the Drywood termite– unlike subs- drywoods establish colonies inside the wood members, and the queen lives there as well. Because of this, the primary recommended treatment for Drywood termites is fumigation. In cases where are infestation is identified to a confined area various methods of “local” treatments can be performed. A local treatment is performed by professionals by using such termiticides as Natural Orange Oil or other chemical substances that come in forms such as dust or liquid applications. In general, Drywood termites can be more difficult to find which is why the primary recommendation for treatment is fumigation.
So, to answer the question of “Can I termite-proof my Home?” I feel that the answer is yes, but I question is it worth it in the Sacramento Area. Instead, having periodic termite (Wood Destroying Organisms) inspections can offer the same piece of mind without a recurring bill, or applying termiticide chemicals to the soil without and active infestation. Ultimately, it is a decision that should be made with thought and consideration- it should come down to what gives you (the homeowner) peace of mind.