What Does Termite Inspection Entail? A termite inspection is a visual inspection of the readily accessible areas of a home for evidence of wood-destroying insects. The inspector will visually inspect the entire interior of a home (including accessing and entering any sub-space such as basements and crawlspaces) and exterior of the property. After the inspection has been performed, the findings are reported on a special wood destroying insect form separate from the home inspection report.
How long does an inspection take? The average termite inspection takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes for a thorough inspection, depending on the size and conditions (e.g. clutter; storage of personal items, etc.) of the home and property.
Can termites live in colder climates? Yes, termites have been found throughout the United States, even in Alaska! Cold weather does not kill them, it only slows them down or causes them to go into a hibernation state.
Why inspect the attic if termites stay close to the ground? The termite inspection is actually an inspection for wood-destroying insects. The inspector is also looking for other types of wood-destroying insects, such as ants and carpenter bees.
What do termites look like? Subterranean termite colonies consist of three different castes--reproductives, workers, and soldiers. All of the Subterranean termites are generally creamy white in appearance and are translucent, looking very much in size, shape, and color as a grain of rice. The reproductives, or “swarmers,” have a pair of even-sized wings and are often mistaken for flying ants. The workers look similar to the “swarmers,” only they are a little smaller and do not have wings. The soldiers are also similar except for their oversized heads and large, crushing mandibles.
What is the difference between carpenter ants and termites? There are a number of differences between carpenter ants and termites. The body shape of a carpenter ant is like an hourglass--it narrows between the abdomen in the rear and the thorax in the front. The body of a termite is more cigar-shaped without the narrowing between the front and back halves of the body. When wings are present, carpenter ants have larger wings in the front and smaller wings in the back, whereas termite "swarmers" have relatively equal-sized wings. Carpenter ant wings are less "veiny" than termite wings. Also, ant wings have a stigma (dark spot) on the leading edge of the front wing, and termite wings do not.
Carpenter ant antennae are bent or curved, while termite antennae are relatively straight. Also, termites eat the wood they tunnel through and ants do not.
How do you treat termites? There are several methods available to treat Subterranean termites. A chemical treatment is the most common treatment type available for Subterranean termites. The goal of a Subterranean termite chemical treatment is to establish a continuous termiticide barrier between the termite colony (usually in the soil) and wood in a building. This is done by placing termiticide in the soil on both sides of all foundation elements to provide a barrier preventing termites from entering the structure. Technicians trench the soil and inject termiticide beneath it at 16-inch intervals. They also drill into hollow masonry block foundations and inject termiticide into the block voids. This creates a protective barrier around the property.
In-ground baiting systems are also becoming a popular method for treatment of Subterranean termites. A subterranean termite baiting system involves placement of cellulose (wood material) bait stations at strategic locations around the perimeter of the home. Worker termites, which constantly forage for wood to feed their colony, locate the cellulose bait stations and leave special scent trails to summon their mates to the food source. The cellulose material in the bait station is then replaced with a chemical inhibitor, retarding the molting process in termites and preventing them from growing. The carrier termites then bring the chemical back to the colony and--if everything goes well--spread the inhibitor throughout the remainder of the colony. Because of the growth inhibitor, the carrier and the rest of the colony will die.
Could there be hidden termite damage? Absolutely! One of the main characteristics of termites is their tendency to avoid open air and bright lights, meaning they will stay underground or within wood products. It is almost impossible for an inspector to visually identify or locate an active termite infestation just by looking at the finished surface of a wall or the accompanying trim.
Why do I have to treat if there are no live termites? If there is evidence of a termite infestation and no evidence of a termite treatment having been done, the inspector must report that the infestation is active, which means in need of treatment, even though no live insects were discovered.
Does the termite inspection cover all types of wood-destroying organisms? This depends mostly on state and local code. The State of OH uses the NPMA-33 Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Report, which limits its scope to the inspection of termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and re-infesting wood-boring beetles. The inspection does not include mold, mildew or non-insect wood destroying organisms.
Is a termite inspection included with the cost of a general home inspection? No, it is not. The initial cost of a general home inspection does not include any other inspections.