Pests chewing away an investment can be a recurring nightmare for homeowners. There are many ways pests can cause structural damage to your home. We’re going to discuss a few of those pests in this post:
Beetles come in many shapes and sizes. There are a few beetles that do however pose a great risk of structural damage to your property.
In South Africa we’ve recently seen a surge in polyphagous shot hole borer infestations. These tiny critters have been responsible for thousands of trees becoming infected and been chipped or burnt to get rid of the problem as topical treatment is mostly ineffective. Other beetles that pose great structural damage risk to your home is any type of wood boring beetles. If your home features wooden panelling, walls, floors or even wooden window frames and skirting boards it would be wise to keep a close eye on these wooden surfaces for any signs of tiny holes with fine powder falling out, or a hollow sound when knocking on the wood. It is advisable to ensure that any new timber introduced into one’s home, whether due to a renovation or new installation, that it has been treated against wood destroying insects.
Unfortunately if you knock and the wood sounds hollow, it might not be very lucky for you as there is likely something eating away at the wooden surface.
Beetle infestations come in as many shapes and sizes as the pests that cause them so if you suspect a beetle problem it may be wise to consult with a pest professional.
Carpenter ants are easy to overlook but the damage they cause cannot be ignored.
Counter to popular belief carpenter ants don’t actually swallow the wood they consume for sustenance. They chew on wood and build their vast tunnels and nests from the fibres found in rotting wood and timber. The inherent danger is obvious, they can destroy the structure of wooden beams, panels and window frames, even if the outsides still look perfectly intact.
You can spot carpenter ant activity by the wooden sawdust like dust or frass that they leave near or under wooden surfaces such as baseboards, window sills or door jams. You might also spot winged ants creeping out of ceilings, walls or other crevices during summer months which might also indicate a bigger problem.
Carpenter ants require water to survive like most pests. So the very first step in making these unwelcome house guests move out is by eliminating any sources of moisture or standing water. If that doesn’t solve the problem you most likely need professional assistance.
Subterranean termites can become a very serious problem in buildings, farms or even in gardens. They are quite difficult to detect early on inside buildings and you might find the damage left behind in furniture, skirtings or other wooden structures.
Termite workers will remove the inside of unprotected wooden structures when given the chance. If you spot a muddy plaster covering walls or corners of your buildings or trees, you definitely have reason to be concerned. If you live in damper regions you can also keep an eye out for sudden mushroom like fungi appearing overnight.
Unlike their subterranean cousins drywood termites do not need stay underground to survive. Although not common within the Gauteng area, Drywood termites don’t just use the wooden surfaces to build their nests, they build their nests inside the wooden surfaces. This is also why drywood termites are so much easier to treat, you can simply remove the entire colony by replacing the piece of wood they have infested.
That being said, this is easier if you catch the infestation in its early phases before they have done more damage. Drywood termites have been known to severely damage the structural integrity of a building if left untreated for years.
If you are considering buying a property that has termite damage it might be worth speaking to a pest professional before committing to the deal. The damage they leave behind can be very costly and potentially dangerous in the case of wooden staircases and other weight bearing structures.
Rats and mice
Rodents rely on human homes for heat, food and water, especially in winter when it gets really uncomfortable outside. To get to the bounty of heat, food and water they use whatever they need to, to get inside. This includes chewing through wood and even concrete when they are motivated enough.
Rodents do not only pose the risk of structural damage to your buildings but they also pose great health risk as they are carriers of diseases that can be transferred via their faeces, urine or the bugs they bring in with them.
Both rats and mice are known to chew on the insulation around a wire which can lead to the risk of electrical fires and potentially the total loss of an asset.
Basic steps in preventing pest induced structural damage to your property:
- Store all food in airtight containers.
- Clean up after you’ve spilled something.
- Keep the house clean and dry. Still standing water attracts pests.
- Close off all entry points, cracks and crevices that could lure pests into your home.
- Pre-treat any wood that you intend to keep in your home in the long run.
- Do not store firewood or mulch next to or inside your home.
- Check your home frequently for anything that looks amiss.
- Knock on wood. Hollow sounding wood is often a key indicator for an infestation of sorts.