Termites and their wood-destroying cousins eat their way through $5.5 billion in property damage every year – and that’s just in the United States. It’s no secret that termites love wood, and they’ll munch on it day and night – if you let them. Approximately 600,000 homes each year are damaged by termites, which is why regular termite inspections are as essential to your greater Richmond, Virginia, home as electricity.
So devastating are termites that many mortgage companies require a termite clearance letter to close on a new home. A termite clearance letter is an official report issued by a licensed termite control provider after a successful termite inspection that certifies no infestation has been found in the home.
So, if you’re gearing up for your first termite inspection, this guide will help you better understand the process.
Hiring a Termite Inspection Company
Before you schedule a termite inspection for your greater Richmond, Virginia, home, you’ll first need to select the company you want to work with. To ensure your property will be well protected, only hire a company that is licensed, bonded, and insured in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any reputable company, such as Eco Pest Control, will be happy to share their credentials with you.
Preparing for Your Termite Inspection
To make your termite inspection go as quickly and easily as possible, take the following steps prior to your inspector’s arrival at your greater Richmond, Virginia, home.
- Remove storage items from under all sinks.
- Pull boxes, equipment, and other materials away from the walls in the garage and outside the home.
- Make sure nothing is blocking the entrance to the attic.
- Trim bushes and branches.
- If you have a crawlspace, have its entrance open by the time the inspector arrives.
Doing the above tasks makes it easier for the inspector to maneuver through the areas termites like to hide. The greater the inspector’s access, the more thorough the termite inspection. For instance, if vegetation growing along the sides of your home haven’t been trimmed, the inspector’s ability to conduct a thorough exterior inspection of your home’s foundation will be impeded.
How the Typical Termite Inspection Proceeds
Depending on the square footage of your greater Richmond, Virginia, home, your termite inspection will take from one to two hours. Because most termite species are subterranean, which means they live underground, the inspector will typically start in the crawlspace and work his or her way up.
After the crawlspace is inspected, your termite inspector will move to the first floor, looking for signs of infestation along baseboards, drywall, and door frames. Special attention will be given to pipe entry points because this is where termites search for water.
Next, it’s on to the upper levels of your home, as the inspector searches for drywood termites – these are wood-boring insects that don’t depend on moist soil for survival.
Depending on your home’s construction, the inspector will climb onto the roof, looking for termite damage within the soffits and fascias. They’ll also look for rotted wood that dampwood termites love to infest.
Finally, the inspection will end with the outer wall. The inspector will look for obvious signs of termites around the entire perimeter. The inspector might even probe any wood piles and fallen trees throughout your property.
What Do Termite Inspectors Look For?
There are two things that termites really excel at. The first is eating wood. The second is avoiding detection – sometimes for years. Unless you are a trained and skilled termite inspector, you might never notice signs of a termite infestation, which is why you ought to schedule a termite inspection every two years. But what do inspectors look for? Here is a list.
- Mud Tubes: To survive, subterranean termites need to stay in constant contact with moist soil. To do this, they create mud tubes, which not only keeps them alive, but also allows them to travel and communicate with the rest of the colony.
- Termite Poop: Those mud tubes? Some are built from termite droppings, depending on the species of termite. Other termite species are a little more sanitary, poop near their nests and pushing it out through small holes. Either way, the result is small piles of what appears to be light brown or black sawdust, which is an indication you have a termite problem.
- Wings: In the spring, when termites are sexually active, the reproductive members of the colony fly in swarms to select their mates. Before the mating process begins, however, the newly formed couple sheds their wings. So, where there are wings, there is also a nearby termite colony.
- Live Termites: Many times, the inspector will find live termites when peeling back the layers of wood or drywall. They may also find termites traveling in active mud tubes. All of these are signs of possible infestations.
- Damaged Wood and Drywall: Damaged wood and drywall are often telltale signs of a termite infestation. The greater the damage, the more significant the termite problem. In addition, the location of the damage often tells the inspector what types of termites are to blame.
- Warped Doors and Windowsills: Termite colonies introduce excessive moisture to nearby areas, which often causes doors and windowsills to warp. It may not be visibly noticeable, but if your doors and windows don’t open and close as easily as they should, then it might be a reason to inspect further.
Being Vigilant Between Termite Inspections
While you should leave your termite inspection up to a reputable termite control company, you should still be vigilant long after your inspection is over. Here’s what to look for.
- Basement/Crawlspace: Look for mud tubes running from the ground to the wood frame. Pay attention to support posts, sub-floors, and joists. Check for obvious damage in these areas. Look carefully at the floor or ground. Is any cardboard present? If so, inspect it for apparent termite damage. Do the same for any loose blocks of wood that are in direct contact with the soil. Termites will source food where it’s the most accessible and abundant.
- Pipes and Sewer Lines: Termites often build mud tubes along vertical pipes leading to wooden structures. Even though they may only be exploratory tubes, they still can indicate an established colony. While you’re there, check for leaks. The tiniest drops of water can attract termites or other pests. Be sure to inspect the pipes going to your hose bibs. Most houses have at least two. After several years, these areas could develop leaks.
- Under Sinks: Pay special attention to leaky plumbing. Look for mud tubes coming from pipe entry points. Check for damage along the cabinet bottom and sidewalls.
- Baseboards: Look for warping along the wood baseboards, indicating possible termite damage. You may have to pull one off to inspect the backside. If there are live termites present, you know you have a problem. Still, the presence of old mud tubes may be enough to prompt the hiring of a qualified inspector. If your home doesn’t have baseboards, then check for warping along the bottom edge of the wall, where it meets the floor. Any deterioration could mean termite damage.
- Floors: Warped wood flooring could also be an indication of a termite problem.
- Interior Walls: Run your hand horizontally across the entire wall area and feel for soft spots. If you come across an area that feels soft or papery, stop and run your thumb or index finger – starting at the base of the wall – vertically up the wall. If the drywall caves in, check for signs of mud, which means that termites are eating the drywall paper.
- Windows and Doors: Check to see that all windows, exterior doors, and interior doors close properly. If you find any that don’t close correctly, then check for warping along with the door jams and windowsills, which could be a signs of termite activity.
- Outside Walls and Foundation: Be on the lookout for leaky plumbing. Also, check eaves, overhangs, and roof sections for rotted wood. Dampwood termites love to infest these water-soaked areas.
- Decks, Porches, and Patios: These attached structures can be a gateway for termites to infest the rest of the house. So, it’s important to check underneath decks and porches. Look for mud tubes and damaged wood. Also pay special attention to untreated areas where wood rot may be present.
- Woodpiles: If you have a stash of firewood next to your house, be sure to check it regularly for termites.
When Should You Call a Termite Inspector?
There are several reasons you might want to schedule a termite inspection. Here are five.
- You’re Selling Your Home: Mortgage companies often require the borrower to obtain a certified termite inspection for the home they are purchasing, which helps protect the bank’s assets. It also keeps the new homeowner from having to pay the costs of removing termites shortly after they have moved in.
- You’ve Seen Termite Warning Signs: Because you’ve been diligent and followed our advice above, you’ve seen warning signs of a possible termite infestation. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to call a termite inspector. Even if those warning signs our outside on the perimeter of your yard, it’s always better to play it safe.
- You’ve had Termites Before: If you’ve had to deal with termites in the past, then you probably don’t want to deal with them in the future. Regular termite inspections can keep you from the headaches that termites bring, saving you lots of money, too.
- Your Neighbors Aren’t Neighborly: Sure, the folks living next door might throw the best holiday parties, but if they’ve been battling termites – along with the family across the street – then it’s only a matter of time that you do, too. Regular termite inspections can keep your neighbors’ problems from becoming yours.
- You Want to Sleep Better at Night: No good comes from worrying about termites, and your peace of mind is worth more than the cost of a termite inspection.
Why Eco Pest Control is the Leading Termite Inspection Company in Greater Richmond
If you wait until you visibly see signs of termites in your home or office, then it might be too late. Be proactive and call Eco Pest Control, the leading termite inspection company and exterminator in the greater Richmond, Newport News, and Williamsburg areas. What makes us different than all the others? Here are four reasons you should trust us to protect your property from termites.
- Our termite exterminators are certified in termite inspection and control, and every member of our team undergoes extensive training in the identification, treatment, and control of termites.
- Training of our staff doesn’t stop after their initial certification. Eco Pest Control maintains an ongoing termite education program to ensure everyone on our team stays abreast of the latest industry advances.
- We offer free termite inspections, and each plan comes with a 12-month warranty that is renewable and transferable.
- We offer a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. If you are not fully satisfied with your termite inspection and control plan, we will come back for free, which is why so many of our customers recommend us when friends and family need a termite inspection.
Her Majesty, The Termite Queen