How Do You Get Rid Of Termites In Wood Floors?
If you feel something is wrong with your hardwood floor, there may be a significant underlying issue that could lead to the problem, such as termites in wood floors. Termites are one of the tiniest wood-boring pests, and they often go unnoticed until problems appear and wood flooring is severely damaged.
An attack of termites in hardwood floors can do a lot of damage to a home in a relatively short time. Early detection and identifying termite colonies are essential to limiting damage to your home and your beautiful wood floor.
1. What Are Termites?
Termites are tiny creatures under the ground. These organisms form small mud tunnel structures that retain enough moisture to survive. Termites are often harmless in the soil and do not affect your home. Only the problem starts when they enter your home and you see termites in the hardwood floor
Termites are usually lighter in colour than domestic ants. However, they share many similarities with ants. Both ants and termites have feathers, but termites have more prominent wings. You will not usually get a chance to see termites when they invade your home, but you can see their swarm outside your home after the rain. It is a sign of significant infection. Call your pest control agency immediately if you see this type of pest.
2. Types Of Termites
You probably have a termite problem if you see a swarm of winged insects in your house, disposed wings, or small mud tunnels on the exterior walls. A closer look at insect and wood damage can give you an idea of the type of colony infection you face.
There are generally three groups of termites:
- SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES
- DRYWOOD TERMITES
- DAMPWOOD TERMITES
1. Subterranean Termites:
Subterranean termites are the most common termites globally, causing billions of dollars in structural damage. These termites live in the soil around houses and make cracks in the foundations by making mud tubes
Subterranean termites are the most destructive species of endemic termites and can cause considerable damage to the entire structure. And you can also see the infection of termites in wood floors. They usually chew along the soft wood grains, leaving a honeycomb pattern. These termites prefer damp and moist areas of the house, such as the basement, bathroom and mat. So, ensure proper air circulation in your home and keep humidity low.
2. Drywood Termites
As their name suggests, DRY WOOD TERMITES do not prefer moist or damp wood floors. They like dry areas of the house and feed on new wood sources that have not yet rotted. Mostly you will see these termites in wood floor corners. They build their nests in dry conditions and can invade homes through wood exposure or termite-infested furniture.
Drywood termite species eat large chunks of wood with & against grains, and they can get recognized by their excretion, which they pull out of their tunnels, like carpenter ants. This waste product will look like refined grains of sand, so if you see piles of this under your furniture or anywhere near your walls, you should check the entrance to the termite tunnel.
3. Dampwood Termites
Another termite group is the Dampwood termite. Dampwood termites in hardwood floors are attracted to rotten or wet wood on the ground. They can enter the house through contact with damp wood or water-damaged areas of the house. These termites will usually eat the wood against the grain and smooth the surface.
Dampwood termites differ from ground termites because they live in moist wood and do not need soil for their habitat before entering the house. Dampwood termites are much larger than Subterranean termites, and they are attracted to wood that already got damaged by water and is rotting. Eventually, they can hollow out the house’s support beams, weaken the structure, and cause severe damage.
Why Do Termites Attack Hardwood Floors?
You might see termites in hardwood floors and other woodwork because they need cellulose and other nutrients for their survival. Their intestines contain bacteria and protozoa that allow them to digest cellulose fibres. However, these substances are not edible to other insects, so termites have a monopoly on suitable food sources.
But in addition to wood, termites also attack other materials that contain cellulose. The list includes bark, plants, paper and cardboard. When these materials have enough moisture, it is easier for some species of termites to chew on them. Other species, such as dry wood termites, do not require much moisture to attack hardwood floors and other wooden furniture.
4. How Do I Know If My Floor Has Termites?
Sign No 01: Stucked Windows Or Doors
Do you have a window or door that feels stuck recently, or has it suddenly become too difficult to open or close? It can sometimes be an early warning sign of a termite infection.
Termites target places such as windows and door frames, where wood is exposed and easily accessible. As termites begin to eat wood, they can cause your windows and door frames to warp, making it difficult to open or close them. In addition to hanging windows or doors, termite damage can cause other structural problems in your home, such as broken baseboards or broken floors and ceilings.
Other causes of structural problems can be – for example, wood rot or seasonal changes in humidity – so take a closer look at termite wood or dry mud TUNNELS to see if you have termites in wood floors or not.
Sign No 02: Damage Under Paint Or Wallpaper
Termites make tunnels (called termite galleries) and small holes (called exit holes) while eating on cardboard and wood panelling beneath the surface of your walls. Sometimes they do this without disturbing the thin coat of paint or wallpaper on the surface, making it difficult to detect this type of damage unless the paint or wallpaper gets removed. People are more likely to discover damage by termites in hardwood floors and surroundings during home repairs and renovations.
Unusual appearance on painted or wallpaper surfaces can also be an early sign of termites. If you look closely, you can see the signs of termite damage below, such as:
- Tiny holes where termites have eaten through
- Bubbling paint
- Peeling or discoloured wallpaper
- Buckling wood
- Sunken or dented areas
- Narrow, sloping winding lines.
Sign No 03: Termite Fleas And Discarded Wings
Termites have a subsystem consisting of workers, soldiers and swarmers. The termite swarmers, also called alates, are the termite colony’s reproductive members. They are easily recognizable by having two pairs of large wings, light in colour and about 1/4 to 1/2 inches long. When a swarmer leaves the colony and finds a mate, it flushes its wings. Seeing a termite infestation inside a house or building is a sign of an active termite attack.
In New York, you will probably see termite swarms flying in early spring as they emerge to find mates and establish new colonies. Because the swarmers are attracted to the light, they are around the doors and windows. They don’t live long inside the house, so dead swarmers or discarded feathers near windows and entrances may get found.
Note: People often mistake termites for flying ants. They look very similar, but termites have straight bodies and two identical wings while flying ants have pinched waists and two unequal sized wings.
Sign No 04: Mud Tubes
Next, inspect your property for mud tubes. Mud tubes look like narrow veins around your home. These tubes start from the ground and run towards exposed wood areas. Termites use mud tubes to protect moisture from air drying, and you will mostly like to see mud tubes of termites in hardwood floors and surrounding. Subterranean termites, the most common type of termite in New York City, have a thin exoskeleton, and they dry out very quickly. So, they need a humid environment for their survival. Mud tubes allow them to travel safely from their colony to their food sources.
If you find mud tubes, you can confirm if you have an active termite attack by breaking a piece of mud tunnel and examining live termites. If you haven’t found termites before, come back later to check if the tunnel gets repaired.
Note: If you do not find any signs of live termites and the tube did not get repaired, it does not mean that you are clean. Termites can move to other parts of your home or property with better access to your food sources.
Sign No 05: Termite Droppings
Termite droppings called “FRASS” are a sign of termite activity. As the termites eat through the wood, they digest it and remove it from the colony to avoid accumulation. Only dry wood termite’s FARASS (found mainly in the southern coastal states) is visible to humans. Drywood termites are wood-coloured and pellet-shaped, often appearing as wood dust or shavings.
In contrast, subterranean termites use their droppings to make their mud tunnels. If you live in New York City or the Northeast, you are most likely not to encounter dry wood termites.
Sign No 06: Hollow Or Blistered Wood:
Blistered or hollow-sounding wood can also be a sign of termite activity. Termites usually eat the wood from the inside out, leaving only a thin layer of wood or paint. When you knock or tap on an area affected by termites, it will sound like hollow wood or paper. It is because termites ate some of the inside wood. You can also see indistinct cracks in the interior walls.
Wood roofs, beams, architraves and rafters in attics are vulnerable to termite damage as wood structures near ground level. Find cracks on ceilings and cornices.
Termites in hardwood floors are more dangerous because they damage fragile floors and baseboards. Affected floors may blister, and you can see bending in some areas. You will also feel your floor more spongy and maybe more springy than usual.
How Do You Get Rid Of Termites In Hardwood Floors?
Professional termite control is expensive. There is no doubt about it. After seeing how expensive it is, it is natural to wonder, “How do you get rid of termites in hardwood floors?” yourself and whether they are right. The good news is that if the infection is detected early, you will have a good chance of dealing with it.
You can use a combination of methods to improve the effects, as some procedures are for external purposes only. Here is how to treat termites in wood floors.
5 Ways To Get Rid Of Termites In Hardwood Floors
Many homeowners prefer to have hardwood walls and floors for several reasons. They are expensive but also very durable. They also add aesthetic value to the home. But like any other wooden structure, hardwood floors are highly susceptible to termites. About 600,000 U.S. homes report termite damage each year. Here are some practical ways to get rid of termites once the infection in a hardwood floor got found:
1. Liquid Termite Barrier:
The traditional method of controlling termites underground was to apply a liquid pesticide under and around the building, called a termite killer. The purpose was to provide a lasting chemical barrier to the soil to prevent termites from entering and affecting the structure. Those who tried to penetrate the treated soil were either killed or repulsed, while those already present eventually died.
Most liquid termite barriers are not an immediate threat to pets and children. Exposure is also low for anyone accessing the area because the chemical enters the soil directly. But as a precaution, it is best to keep children and pets in a safe place as long as there is obstruction.
2. Poisonous Termite Baiting Stations:
In the modern world, instead of applying chemicals to the soil that will only last a few years and potentially pollute the environment, TERMITE BAITS are placed directly in the ground around the outside of a structure. Termite baits allow termite control when the soil structure is incurable with termite pesticides.
Termite baiting stations get specifically designed to encourage termite feeding and establish a relationship with termite colonies. The termite baiting stations are the “windows” of the termite colony. A solid feeding connection must get established in an area where termites can continuously feed without disturbing them. That is why pest control authorities made termites baits. Termite bait stations have only wood, known as detection wood or “interception” wood. It only works to set up a feeding cycle with scouts and worker termites so that the poison can get used later
Worker termites have started feeding, and once a solid connection gets established with the colony through worker termites, a growth hormone is placed inside the feeding station. Termites constantly feed on this hormone until they stop eating. The time of the feeding cycle and the amount of hormone used depends on the termite population and colony size
When termites baits kill enough workers, then two things happen. First, the external supply of food to the colony is eliminated and second, the colony eliminates its internal food source. As a result, the queen, the king, the soldiers, and the colony’s progeny slowly starve. The worker termite feeds the soldiers and the queen directly. Without worker termites, the colony cannot feed itself and will soon lose its food supply. When all sources of food get depleted, the colony begins to decline. It is the purpose of termite baits
3. Boric Acid
Boric acid is an effective solution for homeowners who want a more natural solution to their termite problem. This substance is effective in poisoning various terrestrial insects, such as ants, roaches and termites.
Termites usually die within 3 to 7 days after exposure to boric acid. Just read the label before using boric acid to prevent any accidents. The chemical is also safe for pets and children because of its low toxic levels.
4. Chemical Treatment
Direct chemical treatment is the best treatment for the removal of termite in hardwood floors. These liquid termites are known as “spot treatments” because professionals apply them to specific areas.
The substance kills termites by poisoning the entire colony present on hardwood floors. After finding where there is an infection of termite in the hardwood floor, the pest management professionals drill holes in the material for foaming. They can also use existing cracks and fissures created by termites to leak termiticide.
Nematodes are a natural way to kill termites in hardwood floors. They are microscopic roundworms that attack dangerous insects like termites. The nematodes used in the termite eradication process are completely safe and have no harmful effects on humans. Some parasitic nematodes can infect humans, but roundworms used for termites are not the same.
When nematodes enter the body of termites, they attack the bodies and eat them. After the termite dies, the nematode inside its body grows to infect other termites. Roundworms release bacteria into the body of termites which are toxic in the blood and cause death.
CAN TERMITES CAUSE A FLOOR TO COLLAPSE?
How fast or slow the termite takes in damaging the house depends on the type of wood in your house and the environmental conditions. A single termite can usually require 3,000 or more years to pass through a 1,000-square-foot home. But the sad news is that termites do not work, travel or live alone. They do it in the colonies, which means it shortens the timeline.
A colony can contain millions of termites that can mature and interact with other colonies to reproduce more termites. That way, if termites enter your home, you may be dealing with a severe problem.
It will take about half a year for the colonies to damage the wooden slab. So how long it will take them to damage the whole house or building will depend on its size. However, termite damage can take 3 to 5 years, depending on the number of colonies infesting your home.
Some studies suggest that it may take 15 years for termites to cause your floor to collapse. Thankfully, most infections are diagnosed and eliminated within a year. So, you don’t have to worry about finding a new place to live right now!
How Do You Fix Termite Damage On A Floor?
Fixing termite damage can be costly, considering that most home insurance companies do not offer this coverage. When you see the surface damage, it may mean that you are dealing with a severe problem that needs to get addressed as soon as possible. However, this does not always mean that it is the end of your home.
There are two main ways to repair termite damage to wood:
- Replace damaged wood parts completely
- Add wooden support attached to the damaged wood.
Professionals generally recommend removing the structure these worms have entered for safety reasons. The decision to remove termite-damaged wood depends on the extent of the damage. If you see the damage by termites in the wood floor is beyond the surface, it may be wise to remove it. But if you are dealing with only minor damage, clean it and use hardeners to support the wood.
Let’s take a brief look at the types of wood damage and how to deal with them:
1. Superficial Damage
The termite has not gone deep into the structure here. Make sure you clean and check that the damage has not gone too far. You can fix the damage by applying wood hardeners and sealant to the area.
2. Moderate Damage
First, you should clean the damaged wood to determine how severe the damage is. Signs of moderate damage include coloured and rotten spots in the area where the termites have entered. It can look like water damage and look damp.
Then clean the affected wood, sand it, and seal the holes using wood hardener and sealant. If the damage is more extensive, consider adding extra wood.
3. Extensive Damage
Sometimes the infection can be very severe, such as swelling of the floor or ceiling. In this case, the risk of these areas collapsing is higher. This type of damage can get better handled by a professional. But if you decide to do it yourself, make sure you know what damage you are dealing with and add support beams where necessary.
After cleaning the surface, it is essential to remove the severely damaged boards and replace them with new ones.
As termites eat wood, damage occurs when the wood is prominent. It can include damage to hardwood floors, wooden walls and doors. All types of wood will be a problem in contact with the soil and your foundation, leading to future termite infections. As thermal colonies migrate through cracks of 1/32 inch, they can find their way home.
There are many chemical and non-chemical solutions that you can use to get rid of them when they invade your home and protect damage by termites in hardwood floors, as floor wood is the favourite part of these filthy insects. To suggest a suitable solution, you can always contact a pest control professional. In most cases, repairs will be easier and less costly if you add wood support to the damaged wood. This type of repair works for many structural and non-structural repairs. Repairs that involve replacing structural support are the most complex. It is essential to provide adequate temporary support to maintain the home’s integrity during repairs