Termites may be small, but they can do a lot of damage, and they often get away with it for long periods of time before they're detected by home owners. In cartoons we see termites whizzing through homes and comically reducing them to dust in a matter of seconds, but the reality is not far off and much less amusing. Coming in ahead of fires and floods, termites are the number one hazard to homes in the United States, causing billions of dollars in damage each year.[AD:foo]
Sadly, predicting where termites will strike is impossible. They are not picky about the age of homes or their locations. As long as there is wood, termites are happy to move in. Many people do not notice they have termites until they see a swarm or find damage to structures while their houses are being remodeled. Being aware of the signs of termites can help you detect a termite problem before the damage is too severe. Some things to watch out for are mud tubes often containing small, creamy white insects, hollow spots in wood and termite swarms. Looking online to find pictures of termites can help you determine whether insects you find are termites.
If you are building a house, there are measures you can take to deter termites. Starting with a foundation made of concrete is a good first step. Also, adding a seal or metal covering to exposed wood can help. In houses that are already in place, filling in cracks and leaks as soon as they occur while keeping the perimeter of the home free of debris and plants can assist in preventing termite infestations. If you do suspect termites are in your home, then order a termite inspection as soon as possible to minimize damage.
Take this quick quiz to help determine if you should have your home inspected for termites.