The Types of Termites That Can Damage Your Hardwood Floors and How To Fix Them

If you notice something amiss with your hardwood floors, there could be a major underlying issue like termites. Termites are one of the most voracious wood-boring pests, and they often go unnoticed until problems appear. An infestation can cause a tremendous amount of damage to a home in a short amount of time. Early detection and identification of termite colonies are essential to limiting the damage to your home and hardwood floors.

Signs of Termites

The signs of termite damage are not always obvious, but there are certain red flags in your hardwood floors you don’t want to ignore. Known as the silent destroyer, termites mostly feed on dead wood from the inside out, making their presence in a home very discreet. Termites weaken the inner structure of wood causing floorboards to exhibit abnormal sounds and damage.

Hollow sounds are created by cavities carved out by termites, and you can listen for them by tapping on the floor with a screwdriver. Hardwoods weakened by termites can also creak or squeak due to movement between loose planks, or because the subfloor and supports are compromised. Floors that sag and buckle, have loose boards, small holes, or crumbling wood also indicate possible termite damage. A termite infestation can become very dangerous when the destruction causes floors or other parts of the house to collapse.

Identification

There are a few different pests that can cause damage to hardwood floors such as carpenter ants, powder post beetles, or termites. It is essential to properly identify the insects to determine the right course of treatment. Worker termites have a soft, pale yellow body, opposed to the hard and dark bodies of other pests. The two wing sets of flying termites are the same size while ants have one smaller and one larger set. Beetles have one pair of soft wings protected by a harder set.

If you notice any swarms of winged insects indoors, discarded wings, or pencil-thin mud tubes on exterior walls, you most likely have a termite problem. Close inspection of the insect and the wood damage can give you clues into what type of colony you are dealing with. Termites are classified into three groups, subterranean, dry wood, or damp wood species.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are the most common termite in the U.S. and cause billions of dollars of structural damages. They live in soil around homes and get in through foundation cracks, by constructing mud tubes, or through wood touching a house like mulch or rotting trees. Subterranean termites commonly chew along the grain of softwood, leaving a honeycomb pattern.  

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites make their nests in dry conditions and can invade a home through wood exposure or by way of infested furniture. They often leave mounds of fecal pellets called frass near the colony. Drywood species tend to eat large sections of wood with and against the grain.

Dampwood Termites

Another group of termites are damp wood species. Dampwood termites are attracted to rotting or wet wood on the ground. They can make their way into a home through contact with wet lumbar or even water damaged areas of the house. These termites usually eat wood against the grain, leaving a smooth surface.

Prevention and Treatment

Termites can cause devastating harm to wood structures, including hardwood floors. To help prevent these silent destroyers from invading, keep all rotting wood such as firewood far away from the house. Any wood that’s brought inside should be thoroughly checked, look out for holes or hollowness that could house the insects. Limit the amount of mulch that is kept in close contact with the home and regularly inspect any wood structures that are in contact with the ground. You can also prevent termites by using treated wood outside and installing termite shields.

Early detection of termites is essential to limit the damage they inflict on a home. Routine inspections around the house and of your hardwood floors are essential. Take notice of any inexplicable damages to your floor and thoroughly investigate any apparent issues. If you suspect you have termites, it is best to have a professional assess and treat the infestation. After a termite infestation has been treated, it is possible for damaged hardwood floors to be repaired. For more information on how we can repair your floors, please get in touch with Steve at (215) 515-7355 or info@artisanwoodsllc.com.

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