Now that it is summer time and we look forward to the good weather ahead of us, it’s difficult to think about soft-bodied bugs destroying our homes. It’s important to understand termites, though, so you can protect yourself from their destruction. So, we put together six things you should know about termites and about real estate termite inspections in Omaha. Let’s start with a few basics about termites.

Where do termites live?

Living in your house is not their first choice. They live in the soil with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of their family and friends.

  • Termites are nature’s recycling team, turning dead trees, leaves and other dead plant matter into compost that enriches the soil.
  • The home invasion problem occurs when they are searching through soil for something to decompose and find nothing until they bump into our houses.
  • The wood framework of our homes  and wood fencing make perfect munching material for them.

It’s important to remember that termites are not a problem to humans — until they try to recycle our homes.

How do they get to my house?

Well, scientists learned that termites live in the soil and move around in methodical ways to parse through the soil, looking for organic matter to decompose. In some areas of the country, one or more termite colonies with several thousand members can live in your own backyard, just waiting to bump into your house on one of their trails.

Are they active all year round?

In northern states like Nebraska, termites are inactive in the winter when the soil is cold and often frozen.

Then, in Spring when the weather warms up, termites become active again — and hungry. So they start foraging for food. The organic material that termites eat  — cardboard, wood, paper – contain cellulose. Termite bodies turn cellulose into simple sugar which they metabolize for food.

How do termites get past my foundation into the structure?

Termites can squeeze through a 1/32 inch opening so it doesn’t take much of an opening to become a highway for termites. Even if there’s no crack in the foundation, termites can build a mud tube over the foundation and use it to travel across the foundation to where the organic material lives. Any untreated wood that touches the ground or the foundation is fair game to termites.

I’m buying a house, how do I know what to look for?

Whether you are buying a house or inspecting one you already own, start your analysis with the type of foundation you have because some foundations are better at resisting termites than others.

  • Poured concrete foundation — best as long as there are no cracks.
  • Hollow block foundations — avoid if possible because the hollows can become the tubes termites use to move upwards into the structure — and you won’t see them coming without their telltale mud tubes to follow.
  • Slab foundations —  so close to the soil, it’s easy for termites to enter the home. Slabs can also have cracks or holes in the concrete that make it easy for termites to gain entrance. A basement floor almost always has a crack where it meets the foundation. If the home has a garage, there’s usually a crack where the garage slab foundation meets the basement.
  • Crawl spaces — often humid, difficult to inspect, and difficult to treat.
  • Dirt-filled porches — modern buildings used this method. They fill in the porch area with dirt and then pour a concrete cap across the top. The problem is that the dirt is higher than the wood structure which makes it easier for termites to enter.

One final comment on structures: do not make the mistake of thinking brick homes are immune to termites. In fact, brick homes are often a liability because termites crawl beneath the brick veneer to get into the house — and you will not see them coming.

So, what do I do about termite inspections in the Omaha area?

Remember, if you are buying a house (old or new), your bank, FHA, or other lending institution will require an official termite inspection report. You must obtain this official inspection report from a pest control professional licensed by Nebraska to do termite inspections. Professional inspectors know where to look for signs of termites and what termite damage and infestation look like.

Where do I find professional termite inspectors?

Miller Pest of Omaha provides free termite inspections for homes or businesses to see if a problem exists. And it is the only pest control company that promises to wipe out the entire colony of termites, not just the ones you see. Miller covers all areas within 30 miles of Omaha.

To learn more about termites in Southeastern Nebraska, read the article from lancaster.uni.edu entitled “How Vulnerable is Your House to Termites” which was the inspiration for this post.

To talk more about this topic, or anything else, please contact us. We look forward to helping you protect your home.