Every year termites cause more than $30 billion worth of damage in the United States, leaving homeowners with repair costs that average around $3,000. How can you help minimize termite damage? Start by learning more about the creatures themselves
Termites live in colonies that can total from several hundred to several million individuals, and devour cellulose-based items such as wood, plant debris, insulation and paper. An average-sized termite community can gobble up to 5 grams of wood per day. That's a lot of damage for an insect only 6-9 mm long.
Here are some specific ways to help avoid termite damage in your home:
- Use termite-resistant concrete, steel or masonry in your home's foundation.
- When beginning new construction, especially in termite-heavy parts of the country, use embedded physical barriers such as poisoned plastics or other physical barriers to ensure that there are no easy ways for the insects to gain entry.
- Treat at-risk timber with the appropriate chemicals.
- If possible, use timber that's naturally resistant to termites; species include turpentine tree, tea tree or white cypress.
- Periodically monitor your home's roof vents, siding, foundations and windows. Fine cracks as small as the width of a dime can be all the invitation termites need to make your house their home.
- Look for inadequate ground clearance between the earth surrounding your home and the siding. Too small a distance could result in a termite infestation, and any wood-to-ground contact provides an easy meal for termites.
Performing periodic checks to find any of the following warning signs of termite infestation can help diagnose an infestation in its early stages:
- Termite nests appear as a mud-like deposits that form in irregular lines outside of your home, particularly in the vicinity of wood.
- Wood affected by termites can look whole at a glance, but in reality it may only be a veneer-hiding exterior that crumbles easily or sounds hollow when tapped.
- Infested wood under painted surfaces may result in peeling and cracking paint or actual holes in the wood itself.
- Termites gather at light sources in nighttime hours. This may be an indication that termites are looking to colonize nearby, especially in their most active times between March and November.
Although Allstate does not offer termite coverage, we do have a wide variety of homeowners insurance options. To get a no-obligation quote or talk to an Allstate agent further about your insurance needs, call 1-800-ALLSTATE (800-255-7828).
Published: April 2012