How to reduce the chance of a termite attack

The chances of your home coming under termite attack during its lifetime are as high as 1 in 3 in some areas of Australia. You may think it’s bad luck if your home comes under termite attack... it’s not!

Although termites are everywhere, always looking for more food, there are reasons why they attack one home and not another. If you know what these reasons are, it becomes a lot easier to take actions that will reduce the chances of a termite attack.

For termites to attack your home, firstly they must find it, secondly they must find it attractive and thirdly, they need to find a way in.

How do they find a home?

Termites generally move underground in foraging tunnels, exploring the area around a nest until they find a suitable, large food source. A large food source, such as a fallen tree will create a shaded area on the ground, which means the soil will be cooler. The foundations of a house creates a big shaded area of cooler soil, indicating to the termites there’s a large potential food source above.

What makes a home attractive to termites?

Moisture. Termites have a soft body and dry out quickly, which is one of the reasons why they build their mud tubes to protect themselves when they move above ground. In almost every case of a termite attack there will be a moisture issue with the building – either a leak or drainage issue.

Watering system

Garden beds with their plants, mulch and watering systems are termite heaven!

So moisture brings termites into the area, but to remain there, they need a food source. Garden beds around the perimeter of the home and wood mulch provide an ample food source. If these garden beds are watered, chemicals from the wood are leached into the soil. Termites can detect these chemicals telling them there’s a food source nearby. The same thing happens with a leak in the roof or walls of a home – the water runs over the structural timber on its way to the ground leaching some of these attractive chemicals into the soil, indicating to termites there’s a food source nearby.

How do they get into the building?

Termites can squeeze through gaps as small as 1.6 mm, so any crack or opening provides a way in. When constructed correctly, buildings include a range of physical barriers (such as metal ‘ant’ capping) that protect all the concealed entry points for termites. Which means to get in the termites have to build their mud tubes over these physical barriers in order to get to the wood elements of the home.

Even with a well-constructed property and termite protection measures in place, it doesn’t  mean termites can’t get in, it means they can’t get in without being noticed. This of course relies on the homeowner keeping an eye out for termite activity, which is why you should get a professional termite inspection at least once a year.

So what can you do to reduce the chance of a termite attack?

Make sure the soil under and around the perimeter of your home is dry:

  • Check the drainage – the soil should be dry.
  • Fix any leaks in the roof, in the shower, kitchen and laundry and outside the home
  • Make sure outdoor taps, drainpipes and air conditioning overflows go to a drain
  • Avoid watering any garden beds around the home
Leaking downpipe

Downpipes, taps, hotwater and air-conditioning overflows should all go to drains (near enough is not good enough!)

 Avoid placing potential food sources around the perimeter of the home:

  • Ideally use plants in pots rather than garden beds around the perimeter of the home
  • Don’t use wood mulch in garden beds around the perimeter of the home
  • Store any firewood off the ground and away from the building
  • Avoid storing cardboard boxes in the sub-floor
Firewood

Firewood should be stored away from the main building and ideally off the ground

Ensure potential termite entry points are protected and visible:

  • Ensure you inspect the perimeter of the home regularly and don’t place stored goods around the perimeter of the home, in the sub-floor or roof void, which will prevent a clear view for inspection
  • Make sure the soil level, paths and driveways are kept below the damp proof course and any perimeter termite protection
  • On concrete slab homes prevent termites entering weep holes by installing Weepa Termite Protectors
  • For homes on piers, make sure the physical barriers at the top of the piers (normally metal ‘ant’ caps are in place and in good condition
Inspecting ant cap

Metal 'ant' caps are designed to stop termites moving up inside the brick pier without being noticed

Get a professional termite inspection at least once a year!

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The Weepa range is subject to Intellectual Property Rights. Aust Pat Nos 713335, 762230, 2007237177, 2007215369, 2008271915, 2013211506. Aust Pat Aps 2018902177, 2019900971. International PCT AU2007/000004, PCT AU2014/000123, PCT AU2019/050629. NZ Pat No 567674. NZ Pat Ap 716834. Sth African Pat No 2008/03841. US Pat Nos 8171677, 14/908620. Canadian Pat Nos 2629033,2916320.UK Pat No1984580.Des Reg137021,150609,156915.Aust TM 775282,NZ TM 961710,US TM 1145302.