Termite Damage

What type of damage termites may cause?

Termites eat wood – anything that contains cellulose is fair game to these pests, and they will squeeze, fly, and build tunnels to reach a new source of food for their colonies.  The worst type of damage termites’ cause is structural damage – you will probably never know your home is being eaten from the inside out until slight signs occur.  Homeowners don’t notice termite damage signs because it happens very gradually and once the realization comes to light there is usually substantial damage.  At this point, form an action plan – there may be structural damage, floor damage, ceiling damage, foundation damage, wall damage, but whatever or wherever the damage the homeowner must arm themselves, at this point with knowledge.  Get assistance from professionals and ask the questions, and choose the best solutions for your family.

Termite Structural Damage

termite structural damage

When structural damage has occurred there are two ways: to repair it or to have it repaired:

  • Wood should be replaced with new wood for structural damage repairs. To do this, you must brace either side of the beam with supports, remove the wood and replace it with new pressure treated wood.
  • New cut pieces of wood can be attached to the damaged pieces to provide support for non-structural repairs. Cut two pieces of wood and brace them on either side of the damaged board, treat the damaged wood then brace with pressure treated board.

Laminate Floor Damage

When damage is found under laminate flooring the floors will need to be replaced; there is no saving it.  But keep in mind laminate wood flooring is not wood flooring!  Laminate floors have the look of hardwood floors but are made of 75% recycled materials, so they will not attract termites like hardwood flooring does.

Laminate floor termite damage appears as water damage, it will blister in places and sag down in others, there will be squeaking sound as you walk across it.  An inspector will come in and check the sub-floor underneath the laminate; they will also inspect the supports under the sub-floor – these are the places where termite damage will occur.  To treat the problem correctly, removal of the laminate flooring will be necessary.

Ceiling Damage

termite damage on ceilingsDrywood termites do not need contact with soil and can establish a colony in the ceiling, but Formosan and Subterranean termites may also be the culprits.  Termite ceiling damage will probably be significant when you start seeing signs – the damage will appear like water damage and sagging.  Your inspector will also take into consideration is how long termites have been living there, and what materials the ceiling is made of.

If you are noticing ceiling damage, there is going to be additional damage to the roof, inside walls, or your ceiling support structure.   A vulnerable roof that has loose shingles, leaks around the fireplace, unattended eaves or fascia where termites will land – find a hole – and start a colony, may go unnoticed for many years.

Foundation Damage

termite damage foundation of homeTermite foundation damage is caused by Subterranean termites that gain entry through any gap or crack in the foundation.  These pests do not damage foundations made of concrete or brick, but they will take advantage of imperfections in these materials to gain entry to your home.  Termites will use the protection of their mud tunnels to traverse from the ground, along the foundation and onto the floor joists, door and window frames, wooden siding, or porches to get to their food.

In the case of a concrete foundation, it is the wood that is close to the concrete that termites will target not the concrete foundation itself.  Pier-and-beam foundations that have crawlspaces are made entirely of wood offers termite a food source that sits in and on soil – easy meal – when they move in they stay.

Carpet Infestation

termite damage carpetsA termite carpet infestation means your floor, sub-floor, baseboards, carpet pad or tack strips may also infested.  Remove the suspected carpet and pad from your home as soon as you notice any signs of infestation.  If you have read this guide, you will be able to determine the point of entry and what kind of termite has gained entry, remember knowledge is power.  If not, call a professional termite specialist that will inspect your home and suggest treatment.   If termites are scouting around looking for food sources, you will see small holes in carpeting.

Once upon a time most carpets were made of cellulose materials and these natural plant fibers can still be found in older carpet or rugs.  Today and for many years, carpet is manufactured with 5th generation synthetic nylon – which is less expensive, holds up to wear better, can easily be cleaned, soft to the touch, and has temperature regulating properties.

Wall Damage

Termite wall damage will appear as tiny pin holes, faint lines, or bubbling on the surface of the paint on the wall surface.  Unless you have a block house, most walls are drywall/sheetrock which contains cellulose lining which termites consume.  Walls are supported by wooden studs which are pressure treated, but if a leak should occur this would make this wood and your walls a tastier meal to termites.

The walls themselves in a home are thin, making them one of the most vulnerable areas in the dwelling, and if the wall is a load-bearing wall that supports a roof or second floor – that is when the repairs become expensive.  Your contractor will open up the wall starting at the area where visible damage is found.  It’s impossible to predict how much damage will be found until the wall is opened and the extent of the damage is found.

Repairing Termite Damage

Repairing the damage that is caused by termites can be as easy as replacing a piece of furniture that has drywood termites or it can be more difficult if a structural beam is compromised.  The Formosan termite (subterranean) can cause substantial damage to a home in only two years.

After inspection and treatment, the homeowner will need to make the necessary repairs to make sure their home is safe.  Work with your termite control professional to ensure the infestation has been controlled, and take their suggested preventative measures to help reduce the chance of re-infestation.

In some rare cases, the damage to a home is beyond repair, but this is after many years of an infestation going unchecked.  Hire a contractor to repair or replace any wood that is damaged by termites that were living in your home – get estimates, and show your chosen contractor the termite inspection report, this report will assist them in providing you with a fair estimate of repair costs.

Termite damage inside a home can consist of structural beams, 2 x 4 studs, floor and ceiling joists, drywall, hardwood floors, window and door frames, around the chimney, eaves, fascia, and wood siding.

Pre-Home Buying Termite Inspections

All of the home damage previously mentioned can be avoided by an inspection before the purchase of a home.  A pre-home buying inspection and report will cost about $100 for a 1500’ home – for larger homes the charge will go up, and inspecting the grounds will be extra.  There are termite professionals that offer free inspections, but they will not furnish you with a written inspection report until you pay for it.

Have the inspection done!  If termites are found you will probably want to walk away from the deal, or it could be a good negotiating point for a lower price.  When purchasing a ‘short sale’ or foreclosed home have the home inspected – as the potential home buyer you really want to know if the home has termites.  A professional pest control contractor can kill the termites, but figuring out how much structural damage requiring repair they have done inside the walls can be problematic, especially if you don’t own the house yet.

Termites and Real Estate Transactions

In real estate transactions, most banks require home inspections as a requirement for securing a mortgage.  The home buyer is responsible for securing this inspection – the buyer pays – and it usually pays to get the home inspected by a structural engineer.  If termites are found, the seller must treat for termites.

In some cases the seller cannot or refuses to treat – then it is up to the buyer or the buyer’s real estate agent to either: renegotiate the deal, move forward and buy the home ‘as is’ and have it done yourself, or walk away from the deal.  In situations where the seller will not pay for the treatment where the home is selling in a short sale or the home has been foreclosed upon.

Buying a Home with Termite Damage

The cases above ‘short sale’ or ‘foreclosure’ if you decide to purchase the home – with or without an inspection any damage will fall to you to have repaired.  These homes that are sold ‘as is’ and usually have damage besides termite damage, but termite damage may prove to be the most formidable of all.

Before purchasing have the home inspected, so you know what you are up against, and if the price of the home is low enough you can cover the damage with your savings.

Termite Bond

Your standard Home Owners Insurance policy does Not cover termite damage coverage.  The reason for this in their thinking termites can be prevented with periodic home maintenance.  Some insurance companies offer termite coverage for an additional fee (like flood or sinkhole insurance).

Your best bet would be to get a Termite Bond.  These termite bonds are provided to you through a pest control company.  They are a contract between you ‘the home owner’ and the ‘termite control company’ that is renewed on a yearly basis.

termite control guaranteeThe termite control company will come in and inspect your home for termites.  If anything is found, they will treat for the termites charging you a fee.  They will then offer you a yearly bond.  The fee for that bond is about 25% of the charge for service or ($150 – $250).  You purchase the Termite Bond at that point, and any damage done after that inspection/treatment is covered by the Bond and repaired or retreated by the termite company.

This Bond gives the homeowner peace of mind in knowing any recurring infestation will be dealt with.

Termite inspections are not full proof.  You may have your home inspected and a few months later upon starting a remodeling project find termites is impossible to detect places.  But, this is the exception, not the rule.  In most homes termite damage occurs very slowly, and the professionals know where to look.

In some states when selling your home, you must have a termite inspection.  The homeowner supplies the inspection report, and it is forwarded to the home buyer in the closing documents.  During the inspection, the homeowner will probably have the home treated for termites – whether any are found or not.  Ensuring the new owner peace of mind and the ability to purchase the continuing termite bond through the termite control company.

Subterranean damage vs  Drywood damage vs Dampwood damage

Type of Damage Subterranean Drywood Dampwood
Structural X X
Laminate Floor X
Ceiling X X
Foundation X X X
Carpet X
Wall X X X
Waterlogged Wood X


As you can see Subterranean termites are the largest headache for homeowners – they infest and cause damage to most every cellulose material, subterranean termites need contact with soil.  Drywood termites usually enter your home through a piece of furniture, or when swarming they fly onto your home, drywwood termites do not need contact with soil they live directly in wood.  Dampwood termites do not infest homes unless there is a huge leak that keeps wood wet for a long period of time, dampwood termites need wood that is in contact with water.