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Are Older Homes More Prone to Termites?

Posted on 5 March 2015

In short - yes. While homes of any age are susceptible to a termite infestation, a joint research project conducted by the CSIRO and the Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Council found that as a home ages, the probability of termites being discovered inside the property increases. This is a particularly important finding to keep in mind if you’re purchasing an older home.


The heartbreak of termites

Take a moment and picture this: You and your family have just taken ownership of your dream house. You have moved in all of your possessions and begun to relax and feel like you’re finally at home. A few weeks, or even months may pass, and you begin to notice slight bubbling in the paintwork around your windows, a flurry of insects outside, or you may have had a couple of light fittings short out. It’s not until one day, when examining some of that bulging paintwork near your door frame, that you almost put your finger through the wall and realise your house is being eaten away by termites.

As horrifying as this scenario sounds, it’s in fact an all too familiar issue for many people in cities and towns across Australia. If you’re buying a property, you can reduce your risk of a nasty surprise by arranging a pre-purchase pest inspection. Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, it doesn’t matter where you are buying a property, or how old the property is, having a building and pest inspection is an essential part of the purchase process.  

What kind of damage can termites do?

Termites can cause a lot of damage to a home. The damage is also often hidden within walls and ceiling cavities, or under the floors, reinforcing the need to have these spaces inspected prior to purchasing a property, and regularly checked afterward.

Termites can cause all sorts of issues in a home, including:

•    Damaged roof timbers - especially the top plates which end just above the walls.
•    Weak flooring bearers and joints.
•    The paintwork on interior cornices, window and doorframes can take on a blistered, bubbling or bulging look.
•    Short circuiting of your electrical system due to damaged wiring in the subfloor, roof or wall cavities.
•    Subfloor damage, often seen below the wet areas of your home, including the bathrooms and kitchen.

How can I treat termites?


If you discover what you suspect might be termites either inside your home or anywhere else on your property, it’s essential to arrange an immediate appointment with an experienced pest control professional. While it may be tempting to try and deal with the termites yourself, this can actually make matters worse and potentially end up costing you more money in treatment and repair costs. Once the presence of termites has been confirmed, there are several treatment options available to you.

•    Eradicate the nest.
This is often the most cost-effective approach and involves a professional pest exterminator placing termicide dust into the termite nest. While this approach will eradicate the current infestation of termites, it will not prevent further outbreaks.

•    Termite baiting system.
A termite baiting system is another approach which can be taken to eradicate termites. This approach involves using a baited termite box to encourage termites to congregate inside, where they are then treated with termicide dust.

•    Termite baiting and monitoring.
The most effective way of eradicating your home and property of termites is to use a termite baiting and monitoring system. Baiting stations will be installed around your property and treated on a regular basis until all termite activity has resolved. Monitoring will then continue at increasingly longer intervals to ensure no termites return - and if they do they are treated promptly.

Prevention is best

The risk of a termite infestations can be lowered in some cases by following a few simple steps:

•    Remove any building debris, timber, lattice, or rubble from your property.
•    Ensure no moisture is able to collect inside your home, or outside. For example, make sure any overflows are positioned to drain away from your home.
•    Avoid leaving the edge of your house slab exposed, particularly when it’s in close proximity to garden beds.
•    Avoid having garden beds directly abutting the walls of your home.

 

It’s important to get a pre purchase pest inspection of any property you are looking to buy, but it might be a particularly good idea for older homes which may be more prone to termite infestations. By seeking expert advice if you do notice signs of insect activity after purchase, you can rest assured you are doing everything you can to protect your most valuable asset from termites.

 

By Darel McBride

 

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