A home is the biggest financial investment most people will make in their lifetime. However, dream homes can quickly turn to nightmares if destructive termites find their way into the structure.
With warmer weather on the way, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that termite swarmers will be on the hunt for vulnerable homes where they can establish new colonies and inflict costly property damage that is often not covered by homeowners insurance. Termites, known as "silent destroyers," feed 24-hours a day, seven days a week on the cellulose found in wood and paper products and cost U.S. homeowners about $5 billion each year.
As spring also kicks off the house-buying season, the NPMA encourages all homebuyers to obtain a wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspection separate from their home inspection, and all homeowners to have a termite inspection completed every one to three years. According to a recent survey by the NPMA, 52 percent of Americans have never had their homes inspected for termites.
WDO inspectors are specially trained to recognize the often-subtle signs that termites may be present in a home, while the average home inspector will look only at the structural soundness of a building. WDO inspectors are also able to determine if conditions in a home are conducive to infestations or if there is evidence of past treatment for termites.
A WDO inspection is a vital part of the home-buying process and always in the buyer's best interest as any undetected damage from a termite infestation becomes the buyer's responsibility after the home is purchased.
Homeowners should also be aware of the following signs of possible termite infestations in their homes:
1. Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home.
2. Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped.
3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures.
4. Cracked or bubbling paint.
5. Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest.
6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home.