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Detecting Termite Damage: An Interview with David Valley of Massachusetts Home Inspections

By David Valley

Tell us about your company and its foundation.

My name is David Valley and I am the founder of Massachusetts Home Inspections. I have inspected thousands of homes for Buyers and Sellers throughout Eastern Massachusetts and Southeastern New Hampshire as I am fully licensed in both States.

What are some of the services your company offers?

I offer home inspection services and many ancillary services to include Wood Boring Insect inspections, Thermal (Infrared) Imaging, Water Testing, Radon testing and I also test homes for drug use within.

Please explain what termite damage is for homeowners who may not know and why it is harmful:

Of all the Wood Boring insects, Termites are the most damaging wood destroying insect in homes today. The average single-family home has as many as four termite colonies beneath it (and each colony can have as many as 1 million winged residents within it). Most homeowners attempt to prevent termite colonies from attacking their home and causing extensive structural damage.

What are some signs of the presence of termites and termite damage?

Termites are quite hard (for a typical homeowner) to detect because they do not expose themselves to the environment. They stay inside wood structural members as it is their only way to survive. They can die rather quickly from dehydration when exposed to the environment due to their very thin exoskeleton. When Termites do travel from their nests underground to your home, they must maintain a moist environment and protect themselves from predators so they build protective mud tubes from the soil right up to your home and can remain unseen most of the time. The smallest of cracks in your foundation, usually a basement or concrete slab, is enough for those sneaky little termites to gain entry into your home to start destroying your structure. They will utilize the foundation cracks to gain access to the wood framing in your home because it's much easier for them to utilize a protected path than to build mud tunnels to protect themselves from the environment.

Some signs that homeowners can watch for to detect Termite damage are:

  • Light brown 1/4 inch mud tunnels going in varied directions (just like a highway) on the face of your foundation.
  • Tiny spots of light brown dirt-like lines on your basement framing. Termites do exit wood slightly but once they find themselves out of their moist environment, they stop exiting and go right back inside the wood framing, leaving a slight light brown mud tunnel at the exit area.
  • Wide mud cakes on your foundation or structure. This will look like a light brown mud splatter.
  • Long light brown mud tunnels hanging from your wood structure.
  • Weak wall paneling inside your home. Feel your wall paneling with your hand, if your fingers go through the paneling, then look for light brown mud tunnels behind the skin of the paneling.
  • Test for weak wood sill areas in your basement. You can stab any exposed horizontal wood (that sits directly on top of your foundation) with a screwdriver and if you can easily penetrate the wood, this would suggest that the wood is infested with Termites.

What are ways to treat termites and termite damage?

Again, Termites need to remain in a moist environment at all times. Once they're inside your home, anything that is made of wood -- from the framing within your structure, window and door frames to subfloors to floor joists and sills-- is fair game. You will not be able to visually observe Termite activity simply because they will feed undetected. Termite workers attack the wood in your home from the inside out and infestations can go undiscovered until the wood is almost completely destroyed, which could take many years.

Treating for Termite damage must always be left to the professionals. If you find that you have signs of Termite damage, you must contact a professional Exterminator to examine your area of concern. If the exterminator does find active signs of Termite damage then the area of concern must be properly treated. Most exterminators will treat the entire perimeter of the home and then set you up for an annual inspection.

What is the best way to contact you and your company?

You can contact me at...
Phone: 1-978-683-4984
Toll-Free: 1-866-705-3100

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