Termite Inspections (White ant inspection)
Termites are also known as white ants
See also >> Termite Treatment >> Termite Control
See also >> Pre-purchase building and Pest Inspection
Termite inspections have two objectives. The first is to find live termites either in your home or on your property. The second is to alert you about conditions around your home that are conducive to termite attack such as moisture or other factors that will attract termites.
I am often asked "what type of house gets attacked most?"
After 12 years of termite work I can say there is no particular favorite of the termite but having said that, houses on concrete slabs seem to have the most damage as the termites can, in most cases feed happily for months without revealing themselves.
Homes on stumps, timber, steel or brick piers require the termites to expose themselves to gain entry to the structure. We also check that any inspection points, put in at time of construction are clear.
All new homes now require termite protection at the time of construction. These are usually in the form of physical barriers or chemical barriers. Now, it is very important to note that barrier is not a word that, I believe should be used. They are impediments to termite entry in that they are designed to push the termites out to find another entry that is visible to the home owner or inspector.
The Australian Standard for pre construction (AS 3660.1-2000) states:
A termite barrier system constructed in accordance with this standard cannot prevent termite attack, as barriers may be bridged or breached. Where termites bridge barriers the evidence may be detected during inspections.
There is an Australian Standard (4349.3-1998) that specifically deals with inspection of buildings for timber pests. There is a lot to the standard and all inspections should adhere to the standard as a minimum guide. The report at the end of the inspection should also reflect the requirements of the standard.
Ensuring the termite inspector holds the appropriate license for performing the work is also something that should be asked for and will always be provided by a licensed pest inspector such as Sanctuary Pest Control and Termite Management.
We are very methodical when performing a termite inspection and our preference is to start outside to gain an understanding of the property and environmental conditions. Next we will go under the house and then to a sub floor if there is one, then inside the house and finally into the roof void above the ceiling.
What do I look for when performing a termite inspection?
Well, I look at trees, stumps, garden beds, landscape timbers, retaining walls, moisture issues and ground level covering slab edges. Of course, these are just a few but they are the obvious ones. This is to determine what conditions can attract and allow a termite colony to gain access.
Under the house I look for tell tale 'leads' or mud trails that the termites travel in when going up the piers. Remember that termites are unable to be exposed to light as they will perish very quickly, their tunnels protect them from light and from predators.
Ant caps or termite shields are the metal sheets that go between the piers and the flooring. It is very important to know that these metal sheets will not stop entry of termites but are designed to show the termites which have to go over them to gain access to the house.
Inside I need to see all accessible timbers and if I have access I will "sound" them by tapping them to discover hollow areas that have been eaten out. Looking for visual signs such as paint rippling, nesting material protruding from the wall and mould are also signs of possible termite activity.
Heading up to the roof I am looking for damaged timber trusses, bearers and rafters as well as termite tunnels.
Throughout the inspection I will be noting any termite friendly conditions which include moisture in the house especially in walls backing onto a shower, water sitting at the sides of the house and leaking gutter and downpipe issues.
Why is moisture such an issue with termites? Moisture is necessary for termites to build their tunnels and nests and also speeds up decay of timbers so a moist environment is far more attractive to termites.
Not in all cases but in a majority of cases in my experience a termite attack can be traced back to a leak or moisture issue. So if I have write on my final report that moisture or a leak is present then this needs to be fixed urgently. It is in effect a warning so homeowners ignore this warning at your peril!
The most common sources of termite inducing moisture are hot water relief valves, air conditioning condensation run off and leaking shower recesses.
I may also find termites under a sleeper or mulch. Removing the sleeper or mulch is a start but the termites are still there under the ground so at this time a proposal will be given to you to treat the termites and protect your home.
I will also look for signs of a previous termite treatment. A treatment may have been done prior to you moving in so this needs to be looked at as the treatment may have expired and your home is then at risk. Generally speaking, a home that has had a treatment done after construction is a sign that a termite attack has occurred at some time and this means there is significant risk of an attack in the future usually due to the construction design. If this is the case then some options will be given to you to either re-activate the protection or use a different plan of attack (or defence!).
If conditions are particularly conducive to a termite infestation then sometimes it is almost impossible to rectify them especially if the problem centres around construction design issues. For instance if there are timber piers in ground contact then this is a real issue and as you can imagine, it may involve a costly fix. In these cases a preventative system is often better and more cost effective. I would say that around 30% of termite prevention systems we put in are installed for preventative measures.
In all cases it is more desirable, and generally far less expensive, to keep termites out of your house than to try to get them out after they have started eating the timbers in your house.
If you taking into account the damage that may need to be fixed, the stress of finding termites in your house and the resulting urgency to try to arrest the termite activity I believe it is a better choice to have a competent licensed termite inspector come and visit you, inspect your property and then advise you on what is the best way to prevent a termite attack.
A visual termite inspection involves checking the surrounds of the house, garden, fences retaining walls etc. and moving inside the house to check all accessible timbers, roof cavity and subfloor (if present). If we feel a certain area requires a more invasive inspection we will discuss this with you. Usually this involves the drilling of a small hole to see behind the cladding.
It is no accident that the CSIRO and the Australian Standards recommend regular (at least yearly) termite inspections of the home. Early detection and advice can and has saved considerable expense and damage caused due to termite activity.
Remember: Termites which are also known as white ants cause more damage than fire, flood and cyclones combined!
Sanctuary Pest Control and Termite Management utilise the latest technology and couple this with licensed, experienced and dedicated people to give you information that will help you protect your greatest asset.
We utilise Bugeye borescope technology which gives us a visual image inside a wall to detect hidden termites. We also use other detection instruments to take thermal readings and measure moisture levels. We also use listening devices to detect termites eating (they are quite noisy) which together give us good pest intrusion related information regarding your property that will enable us to give you the right advice. the right decisions.
Please phone us or email us to make a booking for a termite inspection or for any other information you need in regard to termites or termite tracks or nests you have seen around your home or business.
Proprietor: Michael Powell.