What Kind of Damage Can Termites Do to a Home?



by Greg Geilman Realtor®
President and CEO, ReMax South Bay Residential

The National Pest Management Association estimates that termite treatment and repairs can run to over $5 billion annually in the U.S. What does this mean for the average homeowner? Termites can cause serious damage to the home and require a homeowner to dig deep to address structural damage and other issues related to a termite infestation. As a homeowner, you need to be aware of how certain pests can potentially destroy an investment without adequate monitoring, control methods and treatment. Termite colonies can grow large and may be located close to a home or deep below a home’s foundation. Other types of termites thrive in a home’s walls. Understand more about the type of damage that termites can do to a home.

Wood-loving Termites

There are approximately 2,800 different types of termites. Only a few types can cause damage to your residence. Subterranean termites leaves external grain intact while forming tunnels inside the wood. Damaged wood breaks easily and the type of damage from subterranean termites can be hidden behind a home’s walls. Drywood termites have a smaller colony size and cause damage at a slower rate than subterranean termites. A termite specialist can identify the type of termite that may be residing in and consuming the wood in your home.

What Areas May Need Repair?

The type of damage in a home is often related to the species of termite. Each type of termite has its own preferences and may consume wood at different rates. Learn more about termite species known to damage homes and more.

  • A large colony of subterranean termites can consume a great quantity of wood. 1 million members of a colony are estimated to eat approximately 15 pounds of wood every week. This type of termite can cause damage to various areas of a home’s structure, including insulation, plastic pipes, support beams and home foundations.
  • Drywood termites live inside the wood and can cause damage around entryways. These termites like to reside in window frames, doorframes and attics. An infestation in these areas leads to brittle wood that can make a home less secure. The outside of the wood looks fine but the inner part of the elements are weakened and infested with termites.
  • Dampwood termites are attracted to damp wood. A home prone to moisture issues or plumbing problems may be attractive to this type of termite. Damage from termites may exacerbate existing concerns and be found around leaking pipes and areas affected by water damage.
  • Formosan termites are thought to be the most destructive of the termite species. These natives of China have spread across the U.S. and can infest wood in homes, cellulose-based goods, boats and surrounding trees. In ideal environments, this type of termite can cause major structural damage to a residence in as little as six months.

Depending on the type of termite, a homeowner can suffer damage to support beams, insulation, home foundations, doorframes, attics, water-damaged wood, furniture and property outside of the home. Ceilings and walls may buckle and signs of water damage may become apparent. Advanced termite damage can cause floors and ceiling to collapse. Less severe damage can ruin flooring, walls and furniture. Damage to these areas can be costly to homeowners. If a buyer is purchasing a home damaged by termites, they may be able to utilize the FHA 203k Loan to help with the costs. Repairs should be made after a licensed pest professional has determined that there are no more termites present. These professionals can also provide an accounting of all termite damage.

The Prepared Homeowner

Termites can damage the home and additional property on or near an infestation. Damage may not be covered by insurance and homeowners that do not address a termite issue before making repairs will continue to have termite problems. Termites require proper identification, treatment and controls to prevent a return. Treat termites at the first sign of an infestation to reduce the likelihood of extensive property damage. Contact a licensed professional to accurately identify and treat a termite infestation.

Greg Geilman REALTOR®
President and CEO, South Bay Residential

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