When purchasing a home, most people will tell you termites, mould and rising damp are among their greatest concerns.
Unfortunately termites are extremely difficult to detect until the damage is done, at which point it’s too late.
Indication of termites is mud leads, droppings on floors, bubbling paint on plaster walls, tiny black spots on wall and ceiling surfaces, floors that may appear to be sinking, dropped ceilings and sinking roof structures.
Termites like moisture, so make sure the house has good drainage away from the building and roof faces and sub-floor areas are well ventilated. It’s wise to not build garden beds against walls, especially when it comes to weatherboard houses. Homes on slabs can also be attacked by termites if they gain access to timber frames through slab cracks, cladding or broken pipes.
Possible signs of termite damage:
- Earthen masses on door architraves, walls, stairs or skirting boards
- Dampness on walls
- Damage to paint on windows and architraves i.e. blistering or bulging areas
- Damage to electrical wiring in roof and sub-floor
- Earthen masses in the sub-floor area particularly in moist places such as the bathrooms and kitchens
- Damage to flooring bearers, roof timbers and joists of properties with pier and wall construction
- Untreated timber fences which are attacked could be an indication of attack on the home
- Timber stacked on the ground and untreated timber used in garden landscaping can also house termites
Coptotermes are a very tenacious, aggressive and destructive termite species. They account for more than 70 per cent of serious termite damage to Australian buildings and are the most widely distributed termite species in Australia.
This species of termite is found widely throughout Australia and is quite common in suburban areas where there are many eucalyptus trees, thus making the Hills area and the upper and lower North Shore of Sydney very popular.
Their nests are often built out of sight in the root balls of trees, and they radiate out of the central colony foraging for food in approximately a 100 metre radius.
What to know about pest inspections:
- In particular circumstances, the pest inspector may wish to utilise specialist equipment that would significantly improve the reliability of the inspection
- The inspection will more than likely include conditions that intensify the presence of timber pests
- The pest inspection should include construction and termite management development suggestions to future prevention
- The pest inspection is to include construction aspects such as the suitability of timbers in contact with the ground or other elements like masonry
- It is generally not possible for an inspector to determine the durability of timbers due to not having the ability to identify timber species, unless he or she has been previously accredited in this field
- The pest inspection is to include site development and the usage of garden beds that increase the risk of pest infestation or storage of timber, debris containing cellulose or other goods under and adjacent to the building
- The pest inspection is to include the potential for the presence of water or dampness in unintended locations like poor sub-floor drainage and inadequate sub-floor ventilation
- Water entry due to leaks through damp-proof courses or flashings, plumbing leaks, shower leaks, leaks through waterproofing membranes, balconies and leaks from roof and stormwater system should be examined
- Excessive moisture within a building element describes aspects of moisture management that are important to the pest inspector
- A moisture meter is to be used on the dwelling’s surfaces at the pest inspector’s discretion to determine possible pest infestation in certain internal areas that are not clearly visible to the pest inspector at the time of the inspection
- In the event that high moisture readings are discovered, invasive measures of further inspections may be advised to the client
Borers also damage wood and the havoc they wreak is sometimes mistaken for termite damage, when in fact the borer could be beetles (Longicorn, Auger), weevils and pinworms.
- Holes vary in size and shape on the surface of the wood
- Signs of larvae
- Small piles of borer dust on or beneath timber
- Signs of paint damage, such as rippling
- Tunnels beneath the surface
- Wood weevils like to target wood which is moist or damp
- They attacks only softwoods, such as pine skirting boards
- They produce a honeycomb of tunnels that destroys the integrity of the timber
- Infests woods such as; pine, spruce and fir mostly in roof timbers
- Flight holes are between three and seven millimetres
- The larvae produce large amounts of bore dust which can show as a ‘blistered’ appearance of the wood surface
- They can spread infestation from one building to another
If left untreated, wood borers can weaken timber and may lead to structural damage of timbers.