HOW CAN THEY GET INTO MY HOUSE?
In subterranean termite control, the key construction element is the foundation of the building. (Since they are coming up from underground this just makes sense, right?) Armed with a little knowledge of building construction and an understanding of how termites behave, it's just a small step to figure out how they can get into a house.
There are three kinds of foundations:
- Concrete slab
- Raised foundation with wood floor
- Basement construction (unusual in our area)
A concrete slab may look like it is "termite proof". We can assure you, it is not. Depending on the design, some slabs are better at keeping termites out than others.
- Floating Slabs - A slab may be poured in two or more steps including the footing and floor. These are known as floating slabs. Floating slabs are vulnerable to subterranean termites around the entire inside perimeter of the building. This style of construction is more common in large buildings including many commercial structures.
- Monolithic Slabs - A slab floor may also be a constructed as a solid, one-piece unit (commonly called a monolithic slab). This is the most common type of slab used in residential construction in our area.
If your house is on a monolithic slab (like most residences in the Central Valley), there are probably only a few ways termites can get into the house. Typically termites will find existing openings, such as the cold joint where the porch, patio or garage abut the house. They may squeeze through where plumbing pipes come up through the slab (between the pipe and the concrete). Or they may find other gaps such as areas behind loose stucco siding, voids behind a brick or stone veneer, attached wood fences, open plumbing wells under bathtubs, or stress cracks in the slab floor itself.
Wood floor houses
The wood floored house has one big advantage over the slab. The substructure area can be physically inspected. Termite infestation can often be detected very early, well before any significant damage is done to the woodwork above. The key here is regular periodic inspections.
In a building with a wood floor, the termites have the same exterior entry points available as in slab construction. They have to work a little harder to get to the woodwork from under the building. Even a raised concrete foundation won't stop them, though. They simply construct their shelter tubes over the surface of the foundation, piers or plumbing pipes, or come up through the earth fill of attached porches and they've got a straight shot at the woodwork above.