How Accurate are Termite Inspections?
One question a lot of homeowners seem to ask us “how accurate is a termite inspection?” In order to answer this question we need to start with the two types of termite species most Southern California homeowners have to deal with. In Southern California from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border and about 60 miles inland, homeowners only need to be concerned with two types of wood destroying termites. These termites are the subterranean termite, and the drywood termite. Even though, these two termite species eat the same wood they both live in two completely different areas.
Starting with the subterranean termite, this termite species lives inside the ground. They require a high level of moisture provided by the soil. The subterranean termite will build little “shelter tubes”, also known as “mud tubes” above ground to reach a piece of wood that does not have contact with the soil. In most cases the shelter tubes can be visible during a termite inspection, whether under a raised foundation of older homes, or along the concrete slab of newer homes. A trained state licensed termite inspector knows what to look for when it comes to subterranean termites. In some cases a crack in a foundation can leave an opening for subterranean termites to gain access to your homes structural framing without ever been detected. Subterranean termites although they do consume the wood framing of your home, they are still in second place when it comes to the drywood termite.
The most structure threatening termite in Southern California is the drywood termite species. This termite lives its entire life inside the wood it consumes. The drywood termite can produce more colonies without ever leaving the comfort of your home. During the fall month’s drywood termites send out winged swarmer’s to start new colonies in other areas. If a termite colony is living inside a concealed wall in your home you may never know they exist, each year when these swarmer’s emerge and move from one wood member to another no one will ever know. Because the drywood termite only requires the wood they consume to survive. Colonies can grow without any interruption in a nice temperature controlled environment like your home.
During a termite inspection a state licensed professional termite inspector can’t see any more than you can. In respect to the construction of your home, the majority of the wood termite’s can live in, cannot be seen. Yes, the termite inspector will visually inspect your attic and crawl space under your home if there is one. These are the two places where the structural framing of your home can be inspected. With all the plaster and sheetrock covering the majority of your home’s structural framing the termite inspector is only able to visually inspect about 10% of your homes wood framing. This leaves about 90% of your home that cannot be inspected for termites. Remember termites only live in the structural framing of your home, not in the drywall or concrete foundation your home may sit on.
The fact is, drywood termites only eat wood that is no longer living and is used for the structural framing of your home. Drywood termites can gain access to your home through any small cracks or openings in the exterior of your structure. This can include attic vents, cracks in the wood trim, weathered or uncared for exterior wood or window and door frames. Once the drywood termite gets into a piece of wood it could be years before there’s any evidence of their existence. In some cases depending on the size of the home and the location of the infested wood there may never be any evidence of termites.
This is why the accuracy of a termite inspection is very questionable. If you look at one of the walls in your home that is covered with drywall on one side and stucco on the other, can you see the wood framing inside that wall? Well, neither can a termite inspector. If you live in the prime termite area of Southern California you must assume your home either has termites, or will be getting them.
The main question is with only about 10% of your home available for a visual termite inspection, how accurate will that inspection be?
Home Saving Termite Control
Los Angeles, CA800-300-0256