The best way to make a home less likely to have a termite problem is to remove what are called conducive conditions. Basically, conducive conditions attract wood destroying insects to our homes or make it easier for them to enter unnoticed. We outline in greater detail what they are in the article linked here
. In addition to attracting termites conducive conditions, can potentially halt a home purchase because many lenders, especially on a veteran assistance loan, won’t approve the loan until most or all of the conducive conditions on a structure are rectified and a clear WDI report is obtained. So, in this article we’ll be talking about how to rectify the top 3 conducive conditions, therefore reducing the risk of future infestation from wood destroying insects like termites and increasing the probability of a smooth home buying transaction.
A wooden fence that is in contact with or is attached to the home is probably the most common conducive condition we see in homes today. One of the main reasons is that many years ago it was common to attach the fence directly to the home for support, and therefore we see this on many of the older homes here in the Austin area. The issue here is that the fence posts and pickets usually touch the ground at some point and unless treated with a pesticide these materials create a delicious highway straight onto the home. Even worse this can create a direct hidden path into the home and framing if the siding is a type of wood-based product which is common on older homes. Hold on, don’t go tear down the fence because this is easily rectified. On homes that have the last “post” attached to the home in some way, that can be removed and replaced with a post that sits a few inches away from the home. Even easier is the situation where the last fence post is already sitting away from the home. For this, simply trimming the picket that touches the home away from the structure about an inch is all that’s required to remove the conducive condition. One last note on this is that if a new fence post is put in, it should be anchored with concrete in the post hole or secured to concrete with a galvanized steel post tie to reduce the risk of rot and termite infestation.
Speaking of wood rot, it is likely the second most common conducive condition we see in homes. It is caused by microbes slowly decaying the wood making it softer. In general, any wood that is soft and wet is going to be easier for termites to eat and inhabit, therefore making it more preferable and more likely to attract termites. The best way to deter wood rot is to keep the wood sealed and dry as much as possible. Ensure good drainage and slope around the home so that rainwater moves away from the home and doesn’t puddle or flood in areas increasing the risk of wood sidings becoming soaked. This will also ensure that the foundation settles evenly reducing the need for future foundation repairs. If rotten or deteriorating wood is found replace these pieces as soon as possible. Lastly, maintaining paint and caulking on any wood-based product will not only protect from rotting, it will prolong the life of the product.
High Soil Line is something we see a good bit on normal home inspections and it affects how the home interacts with termites too. It occurs when the level of the dirt around the home is too high, or in other words, the amount of the foundation concrete that is visible is too low. This increases not only the potential for wood destroying insects to enter without us noticing, it increases high moisture and flood risk for the siding or masonry covering of the home. The fix for this issue is very simple though. Remove enough soil so that there is an appropriate amount of space between the cladding (exterior home covering) and the soil while maintaining a good slope away from the structure. Here we are looking for a minimum of 4 inches of visible concrete for masonry cladding, and 6 inches for wood siding and trims.
Be on the look-out for next week’s post where we cover even more ways to reduce termite risk in homes!
If you, a friend, or client are buying a home and worried that it might have conducive conditions and want to know how to get rid of them Panther Inspections can add a termite inspection to our home inspections so our clients get valuable knowledge on the current condition of the home including information concerning wood destroying insects. They walk away with a next plan of action and contacts for the correct, trusted contractors to call who can help remove conducive conditions quickly for those who can’t or don’t want to do it themselves.