One significant way that termites, ants, mice, and other pests enter a crawl space is through open vents. Sealing off these vents deters future pest infestations.
If the wood of your home is showing signs of damage from wood-eating or wood-boring insects such as termites or carpenter ants, Northern States Basement Systems is here to help you.
A termite colony of 60,000 workers can consume a foot of 2"x4" wood in about four months!
And because they're most often in your crawl space, it could be years before you're even aware of the damage they're causing.
We offer free crawl space repair quotes in Superior, Duluth, Bemidji and many areas nearby. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!
Termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, beetles, and other creatures are attracted to moist, rotting wood, in which they eat and/or build their homes, causing serious structural damage.
Additionally, wood-eating and wood-boring pests can prove to be extremely destructive to the structural wood of your home -- especially in the crawl space. They can wear away the protective coatings and coverings on wood, exposing them to moisture and the elements. As these pests bore into the wood, their tunnels can channel water, humidity, and mold spores deep inside, where it accelerates the breakdown and rotting processes of the wood beams, posts, sills, and floor joists.
Carpenter ants create smooth passages, or "galleries", in wood (top), while termite galleries (bottom) are rough and ragged. Termite damage is also sometimes confused with dry rot damage.
Approximately 1 home in 30 are infested by termites annually, and these infestations can go unnoticed for 3-8 years or more. Termites can live inside of the wood, behind walls, inside insulation, and underneath floor coverings. They rarely (or never) emerge except when swarming. Because they tend to leave the outer surface of the wood intact, they are extremely difficult to find unless you're specifically looking for them.
Termite-damaged wood is often hollowed out along the grain, with dried mud and soil lining the galleries. Knocking on wood in this condition with a screwdriver should produce a hollow sound. Termites will sometimes also bore tiny holes through plaster or drywall. When they do this, you may see signs of soil around the edges of the holes.
Other signs of termite infestations include buckling paint on termite-infested wood and splinters of wood lying around the house (especially on hardwood floors). If crawl space structural wood is damaged, the floors above may sink or be uneven, and doors may jam.
Termites also created mud "tubes" in visible areas to shield them from light, predators, air currents, and from drying out when traveling along outside surfaces.
However, empty tubes are not a sign that termites no longer live in your home -- termites will often abandon sections of tubing while foraging elsewhere.
While encountering winged termites or ants outside of the home is not necessarily a sign of an infestation in your home, you should take special note if you see swarming inside your home. Finding termite wings, dead winged termites, or an actual swarm is a potential indicator of a serious and long-standing termite infestation.
Swarming ants and termites inside a home are attracted to light, and they can often be found around windows and doors. If they're seen emerging from the base of a foundation wall or from the adjoining porches or patios, this is also a good indicator of an infestation.
When termites swarm, use a vacuum cleaner to eliminate as many as you can. Be sure to save a few to show to termite inspectors afterwards.
Winged Carpenter Ants (top) have pinched-in waists, elbowed antennas, and forewings that are longer than their hind wings.
Winged Termites (bottom) have a uniformed waist, straight antennae, and wings of equal size.
Before any repairs are done to your crawl space or other damaged wood, all pest infestations should be completely eliminated. Too often, a home is repaired while enough of the pest infestation remains for the colony to recover and infest the repaired areas.
Once the infestation threat is gone, the repairs can be made. In crawl spaces, damaged or rotting beams should be completely replaced, or a sister beam can be installed to reinforce compromised structural wood.
Crawl space jack posts can be used to reinforce sagging or damaged support columns. We provide steel, adjustable crawl space jacks that can be used to gradually attempt to restore your sagging joists to their original position.
Next, your wood should be treated to discourage and prevent future infestations. Borate-based products and similar treatments are safe, non-toxic ways to eliminate pests such as termites, ants, cockroaches, fleas, and other pests.
Finally, the crawl space should be completely sealed. The crawl space vents should be sealed off to prevent termites, ants, and other pests from accessing them, and the walls and floors should be covered with a durable plastic liner. An airtight crawl space door should be installed, and a sump pump should be installed if flooding occurs in the space. Since wood-eating insects thrive on moisture and damp wood, a self-draining, energy efficient dehumidifier should also be installed.
If you stack firewood alongside your home, you're inviting termites, carpenter ants, and other pests that live there to spread to your home. Keep firewood stacked away from your house to prevent infestations.
The best way to solve a pest problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. At Northern States Basement Systems, we recommend annual inspections for termites and other pests to ensure your investment is safe and well-preserved.
However, we respect that infestations do occur, and that you may need services to repair your crawl space and structural wood.
If your home has been damaged by pests, we're ready to help you restore your crawl space and help keep it pest-free for many years to come. To schedule a free crawl space repair quote, or to schedule a pest inspection in your home, call or e-mail us today!
We proudly serve Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Bemidji, Superior, Duluth and nearby areas such as Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Cloquet, Rice Lake, Virginia, Hayward.