how to kill powder post beetles in barn beam

drugdocJuly 11, 2010

We recently purchased a 100 year old barn beam (white oak) to use for a mantle that shows signs of powder post beetles. The beam will need to be cleaned and finished before we install it in our new house this fall. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get rid of the beetles? If anyone has further suggestions on the best way to clean and finish the beam, those would be appreciated too.

Thanks

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sombreuil_mongrel

The exterminator can tent and fumigate with nasty stuff.
You can spray it with boric acid solution.
You could send it to a drying kiln and cook 'em.
Depending on what kind of look you're after, the beam could be wire-brushed to remove just the loose dirt, run through a planer to smooth it perfectly or anything in between.
Casey

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 11:08PM
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brickeyee

You can build a 'hot box' using foil faced insulation panels and heat the beam up.
If it is sealed and insulated well enough even a few hundred watts of light bulbs will raise the temperature high enough.

I do not remember the required temperature to kill powder post beetles, but is is not that high.

The heat may cause some additional checking and splitting of the wood, more so if you allow the moisture released to escape while the wood is hot and dry.

If the hot box it is well sealed the moisture will move back into the wood as it cools off leaving minimal change.

The whole process will take many days of heating and cooling.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 10:37AM
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Jon1270

130F is the temp usually mentioned to kill PPB. That's the wood temperature, not the air temperature. If you're using a relatively small heat source like several light bulbs, it will take quite a while to heat a beam several inches thick -- days, not hours.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 2:03PM
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brickeyee

Long and slow will help reduce checking in the wood.

If you go to fast the outside dries faster than the inside of the wood, shrinks, and then checks over the wetter and larger core of the wood.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 2:09PM
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drugdoc

Do any of you have experience with a product called Bora-Care?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 8:35PM
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brickeyee

The problem with powder post beetles is getting the insecticide into the wood to the beetles.

Fumigation techniques are usually required.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 8:54AM
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jas.dou

Hi,
The page below has a lot of info about powderpost beetles, boracare and other products.
It will definitely help.
Good Luck
jason

Here is a link that might be useful: powderpost beetles

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 7:03AM
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brickeyee

"The page below has a lot of info about powderpost beetles, boracare and other products.
It will definitely help. "

Only if you want to soak the entire timber in Boracare, then deal with trying to dry it out using a hot box or a LONG time.

One year per inch of wood thickness is used for green wood to air-dry. After Boracare treating the timber ("penetrates up to 2 inches) it would not be as wet as green wood, but it would still take significant time to dry, and likely experience checking and splitting from the differential expansion.

Or you can just heat it up and kill the beetles (as is done when kiln drying wood).

Exterminators love using pesticides.

When all you own is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 9:24AM
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cynandjon

We used bora care on our poles and beams. IT worked great!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 2:28AM
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