long time subterranean termites

yellowhouseAugust 16, 2002

I live in a condo and had found some dead bugs with wings in my dryer that is in the garage also some mud tubes on the foundation in the garage. I thought they may be termites but I really didn't know what they where. So I called my association and someone from the association came out and put some of the bugs in a bag to find out what they where. I get a call back a few days later and they told me they where not termites. So know it's 5 years later and I had an exterminator come out the other day for something else and he informed me that the mud tubs on the foundation are subterranean termites. That means I have had them for aleast 5 years now. I had another exterminator come out for a second opinion and he told me the same thing. When I asked the first exterminator about damage that they may have caused to the structure since it has been at least 5 years he really didn't say anything. The second exterminator said I can almost guaranty you have major damage in the walls. That I should have someone in construction come and cut open the drywall and repair the damage. Does anyone know how much damage there maybe after 5 years and how much something like that could cost to repair. I need all the advise I can get.

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The termites I am acquainted with are very tiny, almost like sugar ants, and don't have wings. I would get another opinion. Usually there is a city/village department that covers this area in your community and will id these insect for you for free. If there are any universities in your area, there may be departments of entymology/biology there that have people that would recognize if these are termites or not. Actually, I have gotten a lot of great knowledge by telephoning the universities in my area when I have a special subject; they usually enjoy giving advice and talking about their subject.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2002 at 9:53AM
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Ranchland thanks for your help. I was was told by both exterminators that subterranean termites swarm and then lose there wings and go into the ground. I also did some research and found that to be true. So I know what they are. I just want to know how much damage could have been caused to the structure after 5 years. Because the one exterminator told me I need to hire someone in construction to open the walls because he could almost guaranty major damage. I just what to know was this a scare tactic to get my business. Or in 5 years could there be major structural damage.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2002 at 5:11PM
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Some termites do have wings. Subterranean termites live in the ground, and make those dirt tunnels across the concrete to the walls where they feed. Then when breeding time comes, there are certain termites in the group that grow wings, whose sole purpose is to fly out and start another colony. These winged breeder termites do not do the damage. They start a colony of normal (non-winged) termites, that are small (about 1/4 inch) and white. Their bodies have noticibly 2 parts - a head and body. These worker termites are what do the damage.

I hate termites, so I've read up on everything I could about them.

Unfortunately, if it's been 5 years since you found the breeders, and left them alone the whole time, there is probably significant damage. Could be walls, could be floor joists, could be rafters.

The easiest place to start looking is in your garage, if it is unfinished. The other place that's easy to see is your eaves, where your roof rafters overhang the side of your house. Next easiest place is your crawlspace or basement.

You can check for termites yourself, pretty easily. Take a pen (or something heavier like a dull ice pick) - anything sorta, but not particularly sharp - and go around to any studs or rafters you can reach, and stab them in a few spots. Do that to your whole house, going rafter to rafter stabbing them. Eventually you'll find one where the pen just seems to break right thru it, to an almost hollow 2x4. You'll be amazed how when you find a 5-year old termite damaged board, your pen goes right thru it. Don't worry about the little nicks you make while stabbing. The goal is to find places that are hollow, and you will know when you do. I learned all about this when I rented a house, so now I know what to look for in mine.

I'd suggest you cut into the drywall on the wall between your garage and house. That's a pretty inconspicuous wall, and you can do so near the bottom. Anywhere you have a concrete slab (like the garage) is MORE likely than the rest of the house to get the lil buggers.

If you call an inspector out, this is what they'll do. Even so, not a bad idea, for $150 to get an idea for how bad it is.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2002 at 5:55PM
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My inspector would hit the wall and listen for any falling debri behind the wall. Also look at the soft wood they like it best. Window frames, molding, etc.
The have to have water so look around a/c drains, leaky pipes or were the rain water sits.
Good luck. I just spent about 4 grand repairing damage. Glad I new about it before I bought the house and had the owners treat the house and knock off for the repairs I was going to have done.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2002 at 1:26PM
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Don't know if you have it in your area, but some of the exterminating companies now use a termite detection dog. Supposedly this method is much better than the "knock and look" that is often used (assuming you don't want to tear all your walls open). Then you can simply open the area where the dog finds termites.

The downside to this is that the dog must be able to sniff all along your interior walls, which means you'll need to move all any furniture at least 3 ft way from the walls in each room.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2002 at 5:05PM
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I would start by opening up where you know they are (near the tubes). Then you can trace their path and keep opening as required until you get to good solid wood.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2002 at 7:39AM
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