Friday, March 30, 2007

Termite, or termite not


My wife and I have, over the years, become somewhat of termite experts.
We bought a house with termite damage. We knew this going in and the house was sold with a termite bond.
Before everyone gasps in horror at the idea of buying a home with termite damage, let me clarify...
Termite damage does not always mean that your house is about to collapse. It is not like those commercials where swarming termites are flooding your home, and it doesn't mean that your interior wall studs are being eaten away as you eat dinner. It can be something as simple as some drywall paper having been eaten away. Having said that, we have had to puddy up and repaint alot of spots in our house (But to the untrained eye, you'd never know, we are just that good!).

We had a swarm last week (swarm, in this case, = 6 to 7 termites). Let me educate you really fast. Unless you work in the outdoors alot or with wood, you've probably never seen a TRUE termite. You may have seen the termites with wings, but honestly, the winged ones don't eat wood at all. They do no damage. The real termites are ugly white bugs that look like ant larva but with a mouth and legs. Their job; Eat wood as high as possible and make a hole for the winged termite to crawl out of and fly away. When the winged termite finds a nice cool spot to burrow in, it digs itself 60 feet underground, has about 500,00 children, grows to look really fat like a grub worm, and is pretty much uncatchable by predators or man. (See picture on this blog, thats a full grown queen, but they only look like that once they are way in the earth).

We pay $70 a year for our termite bond. This means someone comes out once a year to inspect the house for new damage. It also means that if I see a swarmer... even ONE, and find the damage she came out of, they will come out, and AT LEAST fill the hole with a shaving-creme-like stuff or at MOST they will dig a trench around my house or drill out some predrilled holes in my carport and fill it to the top with termite killer (keeps them dead for 12 years)... this is free for me as long as I pay $70 a year. To the average joe, this costs at least $385, and up to $1,200 just for the treatment. Last summer we were lucky, no swarms or damage. This year we did okay. One spot of damage and about 6 or 7 winged ones. Pretty good for us. It's sad but kind of funny that the termite specialist with Zap Pest Control knows me and my wife by name (they see us pretty much every year). These are good folks. They are sensitive to our pregnancy and spray accordingly. They all have kids, so they understand.

In any case, my termite guy just left. The news isnt so great, but could be worse. Turns out, I have a crack in my foundation. The recent damage occured in the hallway... the middle of the house. Termites only attack places that are near the ground and they dont aimlessly roam inside walls. Their job, as I said before, is to go up and out. And somehow they found a crack so small that i never even noticed when we laid the new carpet. My termite man said they only need 1/8th of an inch of a crack. How do bugs with a brain the size of a pin head do this?

Then I asked him "I thought my house was sprayed for termites when it was built" (It was built in 1994, and the good stuff lasts about 15 years). He said that the residence of my neighborhood about 10 years ago filed a class-action lawsuit against the company that Alfa home builders hired to pretreat the foundations. Turns out, they were spraying water... taking the profits and saving money on the chemicals. Needless to say, that company went out of business. So it is a bit comforting to know that pretty much all my neighbors that dont have a brand new home suffer as I do.

But again, there is no rotting wood, no cracking walls, and only enough swarmers to count on two hands gernerally. And they do it during a one month window per year. I freaked out the first time I found them, now I just shake my head because I hate fixing the walls all the time. The treatements they did around my house and in my carport honestly worked; I havent seen any termites in the front of my house or along the walls of the carport for ages. But this damage in the hall is a new one for me. They will have to roll back my carpet in my office, drill 3 holes in the foundation, and pump the termite poison in the ground... they said it will affect an area in about a 10 or 15 feet radius so it should cover that cracked area, whereever it may be...

It'll suck, but it is free and it has to be done and honestly, I am not worried about it. All part of home ownership I guess. Things could be worse. I hate termites so much that I have studied them to no end and have actually began to appreciate them. They aren't heartless little woodeaters... they just work really hard to spread their seed. Fortunately, the ones that leave the roost to spread the seed dont fulfill that dream when they fly around in my house...

9 comments:

Ryan F. said...

That stinks!

CL said...

Wow Jamison! You are fortunate to have a good company really doing what they say they'll do. A couple of years ago when we lived in Mobile we had to have a lot of repairs done on the house (masonite issues). The contractor found termites - eh! Terminix did do what they said they would do, but it always seemed like they did the very minimum in regard to inspecting and treatments.
Be Thankful my friend, I know you are.

Jamison said...

My termite guy sometimes sneaks in teh heavy duty stuff in his mix for me and winks at me cuz he knows he isnt supposed to. It helps that the owner of the company lives a mile from my house.

bigsip said...

The chemicasls used these days isn't nearly as potent as the stuf used on our old place built in 1941...

Our house is highly unlikely to ever suffer termite damage considering the stuff they sprayed when it was built is supposed to last nearly indefinitely.

Of course, it was banned in the 70s since it was causing the bird populations to wither as well as other animals.

Somehow, though, my Dad happened to have some when we built the house they live in. You spray once and pretty much never again.

Maybe the termite folks will eventually find something that kills long term but is safe for other animals. Hope they clear out and stay out, my friend.

Jamison said...

Yeah, I was concerned about my wife being pregnant and asked them about the stuff they used. They said if I drank it in its pure form, I'd die, but if I drank it in its delutted form (1 part chemical, 40 parts water) id get the runs and nother more. It attacks an insects sentral nervous system and not ours.

The DDt affected the birds of prey becasue it was used in crop dusting and birds of prey eat rodents that get the DDT on them, and their babies got defects.

mullinz8 said...

termites are fun and a friend to the American family. I'm sad taht you're letting them get the best of you.

You should get a wood piles nearby and let them feast.

I'm kidding of course.

Amy Beth Brewster said...

The photo makes my skin crawl. And Mat watched Arachnaphobia today. Creepy!

Jamison said...

Luckily, ill never ever see a queen, but if I did i would step on her with sheer pleasure...

Anonymous said...

I purchased a condo/townhome in Phoenix, AZ and was told by our HOA I need to repair and/or replace our carport. I cannot tell if it's rotted wood or termite damage.
I just found out that Arizona doesn't require a termite inspection prior to property being sold. The paint is not sticking to the wood due to the dryrot apparently. Any advice?