It is estimated that termites cause billions of dollars’ worth of damage. While they primarily feed on wood, termites can also damage other types of materials such as books, insulation and even swimming pool liners and filters. They can cause structural damage to buildings and can infect trees, shrubs and plants that are in bad health. Read on as we study more about termite infestations and how long it takes for them to cause noticeable damage.
What Is the Destructive Timeline of Termites?
Termites have enzymes, bacteria and protozoa in their guts that give them the ability to digest cellulose. This is the organic material used in woods and plants. Termites consume wood slowly, which often leads to the damage going unnoticed for many years. However, it is that slow damage that impacts the structure of your home.
It would take a single termite approximately 3,000 years to destroy the wood of a 1,000 square-foot home. However, they work in colonies that multiply rapidly. This means that a large colony of termites can consume approximately one pound of wood every 24 hours.
When a termite colony infests a home, it can take around three years for the damage to be noticeable. As mentioned above, the rate of damage depends on the size of the colony. If the colony is big enough, all the wood components in your house can be destroyed within eight years.
According to North Carolina State University, there is no way to calculate the exact age of termite infestation accurately. If the time when an area was not infested can be discovered, the age of an infestation can be calculated.
Because termite colonies expand rapidly, a colony of around 60,000 termites can expand to 2 million termites in a short period of time. When a colony infests a building, noticeable damage appears anywhere between three to eight years, depending on how large the colony is.
What Are the Typical Areas of Termite Damage?
Termites will not cease infestation until proper measures are used to mitigate their existence. They will continue to consume the areas inside, outside and surrounding your house or building. Some typical areas of termite damage include:
Structural Wood of the House
Some termites feed off of moisture-prone areas. This typically means that they target the foundational wood of your home or building. They crawl into small spaces or along the foundational walls, and cause significant damage to the overall structure. Damage to these areas can be expensive because it often impacts other areas of the house or building, together.
Windows and Doors
Wooden areas around the windows and doors in your home or building are other termite-vulnerable areas. Builders typically use wooden frames to install windows and doors and the typical signs of infested wood can be one that looks wavy or is weak.
Wood Present Inside the House
Termite infestations that start from the outside your house will eventually move inside. They will continue to eat wooden furniture or other elements such as books and paper stored in wooden cupboards.
What Are the Signs of Damage?
When signs of termite damage become noticeable, this means that the infestation has been ongoing for a number of years. Some signs of termite damage include:
- Hollow sound made by tapping wood with your knuckles or any solid object
- Painted walls that peel or bubble
- Small entry holes created on drywalls
- Dirt on the wall when termite bodies come in contact with soil
- Appearance of water damage
- Visible swarms of termites during the spring season
Types of Termites and the Damage Each of Them Can Do
Termites damage the wooden structures of a home or building from the inside. They are more prevalent in damp areas. They also exist in areas where wood comes into contact with the ground, but can infest almost anywhere in the home.
However, not all termites are equal. If your home is infested with drywood termites, you are not in the same trouble as you would be with subterranean termite infestations. Granted, both can cause significant amount of damage but subterranean termite damages are far more disastrous than drywood.
Why Are Subterranean Termites More Destructive Than Drywood Termites?
There are several reasons to answer the question. Some of them are:
- Drywood termites have smaller colonies. Hence, if you do the math, their damage rate is far lower than subterranean termites. Their counterparts multiply faster and it is those numbers that aid them to cause more damage.
- Drywood termites are more visible. When you notice a home or a building, the presence of drywood termites can be felt by their dried droppings left in window sills or walls. Their presence allows people to take fast action and mitigate the termite colony from expanding even further. On the other hand, subterranean termites go unnoticed because their faces remain hidden inside their tunnels. Hence, there are no preventive methods used to wipe out these termites quickly.
- Lastly, many subterranean termites that are present in the ground near or under a home can feed on that home at the same time. Thus, by remaining in one place and going unnoticed, they cause more damage than drywood termites.
What Are the Destructive Capacities of the Eastern Subterranean Termite?
Eastern Subterranean Termites are present in states such as Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia. These termite colonies can attack a home and building, but can’t destroy the structure before the paint dries. However, they still manage to do significant amount of damage in a given period of time.
It can take approximately three or more years for significant structural damage to become noticeable. Within this timeframe, the eastern subterranean termites consume the insides of the wood in a structure – so deep that sometimes it is difficult to detect the overall strain on the overall construction framework.
Ways to Prevent Termite Damage Without Actually Going Bankrupt
When it comes to calculating costs of termite damage, that solely depends on the amount of infestation, how long the colony has been in existence and the area of the damaged wood.
Unfortunately, repairs are more expensive than original building costs. To top it off, insurance policies also typically do not cover termite damages, leaving you burdened financially.
To answer the question whether you can prevent termite damage without filing for bankruptcy, chances are that it’s possible. Termites rarely infest the house beyond repair and you can implement some changes to prevent full damage. Two steps that can be taken are:
- Remove the damaged wood and replace it with a new one the moment you notice an infestation of some sort
- Use a strong adhesive or nails to attach a new wood to the damaged wood for support purposes
These are some simple yet cost-effective methods to prevent further structural damage. It is important to note that there is no point in replacing a whole log of wood until and unless measures have been taken to control termite infestation. If it is not curtailed, they will continue to feed off of wood – new or old.
If you would like to know more about some termite preventive methods, click here.
What are the areas that are most vulnerable to termite damage?
Any structure or material that is made of wood is vulnerable to termite damage. Some spaces that are exclusively susceptible to termite damage include, but are not limited to, slab foundations, wood that touches the dirt surrounding a structure and tiny crawl spaces. As mentioned above, the termites will continue to damage wooden-based structures until preventive action is taken.
Are drywood and subterranean termites the only type that can cause damage?
There are more than 2,000 termite species in the world. However in the United States, another common type of termite other than the drywood and subterranean is known as the dampwood termite. These create mud tubes because they have to stay moist. They feed off of wet structures and create a mud tube highway back to their main nest. Dampwood termites are dark brown and cream in color and are about 3/8 inches to 3/4 inches long.
How many termite colonies live together at one time?
Termite colonies range from a few thousand to several million, depending on the area they infest and their specie type. In many parts of the United States, several colonies exist per acre of land. However, these colonies do not intermingle with one another. They are known to live in a peaceful arrangement within their own colonies. In the case where a termite from one colony harms a termite from another colony, they are killed and removed immediately. The number of colonies that coexist in one area relies on specie and geography as well.