When Peter Larsen first noticed wood damage on his Orange County, Calif. home, he said he didn’t want to believe it was termites. Unfortunately, he spent thousands of dollars on repairs and fumigation, and had to learn the hard way how to prevent termite infestation to avoid future hassle.
“I thought it was a leak in the wood, but I was just in denial,” he said. “They were chewing in the eaves over the front door.”
Since the damage and leftover wood debris (pictured below) were noticeable, Larsen’s termite colony had likely set up camp for quite a while, said Ray Kallasta of Arizona Pest Control.
“To do any damage, it takes a good year of termites not being noticed,” he said.
If you’re looking to save the headache of termite treatment, keeping reading for our expert tips on how to prevent termite infestation before you start seeing damage.
Hire an Exterminator to Spray Around the House
The best preventive measure to keep termites off your home is to have an exterminator spray around the structure every five to seven years, says Kallasta.
“Treatment is the best prevention, because there’s not a lot of options once termites have made their way in,” he said.
There are two common types of termites: subterranean and drywood. Depending on where you live, one type may be more common than the other. A local expert will help identify which species you should be cautious of and work to prevent.
In Southern California, where Larsen’s 2,000-square-foot home is located, drywood termites are common. Tented homes can typically be spotted when driving through the suburban streets.
“Our exterminator said there had been a lot of termites in the neighborhood,” he said. “I think our next door neighbor has them and hasn’t taken care of them.”
If you’re looking for a trusty exterminator to spray around the house, Larsen suggests calling multiple companies for bids before settling on one. And he recommends asking friends for recommendations.
“We ended up paying more money than the lowest bid, but we got more work done,” he said.
Seal Cracks and Keep Up on Exterior Paint Jobs
Don’t allow termites to live rent free in your humble abode. Instead, inspect the exterior of your home often to spot and fix any cracks or damage. These are common entry points for the wood-munching insects.
“If you notice any openings, even in your attic, seal them up so the termites can’t drift in there,” said Kallasta.
Seal all outdoor wood and make sure to spot paint any damage that happens to the exterior throughout the year, so it doesn’t dry out and become a termite’s favorite snack.
“Keep your home painted at all times,” said Kallasta. “Termites will start feeding on any exposed timber.”
Although it’s been less than a year since Larsen fumigated his home to eradicate his infestation, he keeps an eye out for the destructive bugs in the future.
“When I’m walking into the front door, I look up more,” he said of the space where they first noticed the damage that sent his family packing for nearly three days.
Store Firewood and Cardboard Away from Home
Termites can live in firewood, so store logs away from the outside of your house. Inspect firewood before purchasing any, and do not bring home any wood with pin-size holes (seen above).
“Keep lumber at least 10 or 20 feet away from your home so termites don’t have a draw to your house,” said Kallasta.
If you store items in cardboard boxes, keep them inside. No space? Switch to plastic containers for outdoor storage. Just make sure moisture doesn’t get trapped inside them, if you live in a humid area.
“Any (stored) furniture or items made out of the wood should be kept off the ground,” said Kallasta.
Where Kallasta works in Arizona, the third-worst termite infested state in the county according to the expert, termites are just a matter of time if residents are not proactive about prevention.
“We have two types of homes: Those that have termites and those that are going to get them,” he said.