Many older homes in Brisbane do not have a termite barrier. Although we recommend a suitable termite management system should always be installed, causes of termite problems can be stopped in other ways, and as a minimum you should always at least get an annual property inspection. For most jobs we visit, termite infestations have come about either by no termite protection in place or errors made by the homeowner. Such as timbers stored up next to or against the house, leaking hot water systems, concrete slabs poured without any thought given to termites (including extensions and renovations), as well as other elements such as garden beds up next to weep holes.

Let’s glance at what homeowners can do to protect their homes and stop costly repairs.

Common Causes Of Termite Infestations In Older Homes

“Settling” of the property or foundational movement over a period

One of the leading reasons for termite infestations is building movement or settling of the foundations. Each building “moves”, and every cement slab will show indications of hairline cracks over some time. It’s a prevalent misconception that people believe their home doesn’t have gaps or cracks because it’s new or adequately built, but if you go out into your garage and observe closely at the cement slab, 90 per cent of homes will have tiny cracks in the floor.

Termites obtain direct access to your property through these small cracks, which are generally present within the bathroom, kitchen or even underneath the carpets of your bedrooms.

TIPS

  • Be watchful of cracks developing in external flooring and walls
  • Ensure you invest in a regular termite inspection at least once a year

Plumbing and electrical entry locations

Another common reason for termite infestations is plumbing and electrical piping and conduit entry points in the house. This comprises plumbing in the bathroom, laundry, toilet, shower, kitchen pipes and the main electrical conduit that arrives where the meter box is at the side of your home.

In addition to these hairline fractures, you have various main lines transverse through the slab into your home. Over the years, as your slab typically moves or it dries and hardens, the potential arises that tiny cracks occur around these pipes or lines. Termites simply progress through the ground naturally searching for food, and it’s through these small passages where they enter the timber in your home.

It should be regarded that you don’t need notable foundational movement or settlement for cracks to occur. Termites really only need a millimetre to gain an entry point into your home.

TIPS

  • Be mindful of cracks developing in external walls and flooring
  • Ensure contractors aren’t creating possible entry points when completing work on your home
  • Always ensure you protect your home with routine property inspections

Stump ant caps being cut or detached entirely.

For houses on stumps (either timber or concrete), we don’t advise that you do any modifications to the ant capping. We often see clients moving into a new home and cutting or altering the ant capping. In some instances, homeowners place a latticework or fence palings over the front purely for aesthetic purposes. Ant caps serve a goal, and by cutting it off, you’re presenting a primary access point for termites to get into the house.

TIPS

  • Don’t alter or remove stump ant caps
  • Avoid latticework or other timber placed between your homes foundation and the ground or make sure there is sufficient clearance to the top and bottom of the infills
  • Continuously ensure you protect your home with regular property inspections

External wall cladding in touch with the ground

Another prevalent one to avoid is lengthening the outside weatherboard all the way to the ground. When customers tackle renovations, they use a weatherboard that resembles rendering. They install this weatherboard sheeting to clad the external wall.

They then extend it down to ground level across the slab edge because it’s visually more appealing. Technically there should be a 75mm margin between the external sheeting and the ground. Still, when homeowners install the cladding in a way that reaches all the way to the ground, termites just go right up the back of the cladding and into the wall without being detected. There should always be visible slab edge between the bottom of cladding and the ground.

TIPS

  • Speak to us before completing extensive renovations
  • Avoid weatherboard or external sheeting that reaches the ground
  • Always assure you protect your home with regular property and pest inspections

Stored timbers against the house

Another typical cause for termites would be storing timbers, mulch, logs, woodpiles and firewood. It’s not uncommon to see timbers or firewood stored up upon the side of a house or beneath the carport. This should be avoided and stocked up on bricks or grey concrete blocks if practicable. Two Besser bricks and trestle planks would give a great elevated storage platform.

TIPS

  • Do not store timber up against the house or underneath the home where it’s prone to attract termites
  • Always ensure you protect your home with routine building inspections

Renovations and extensions

Suppose you are in the process of any home extensions. In that case, it’s imperative to ensure that when builders pour the floor slab, the join wherever the old slab joins the new floor slab is accurately sealed and has termite protection installed.

Over time, the new slab will dry and shrink, producing a slight gap between the two slabs and an opening for termites to come up within the ground. We often see that this joint is not sealed because its assumed carpet will be laid over it. However, termites will make a mud trail beneath the carpet towards the house walls from this location.

TIPS

  • Speak with us before performing or completing any renovations or extensions. We’ve observed extensions torn down and wholly removed because homeowners neglected to comply with necessary pest control criteria
  • Don’t pour concrete slabs up next to old slabs without proper termite protection in position
  • Always ensure you protect your home with routine termite inspections

Typical hotspots or in attracting termites to your home

Fitting a new timber deck, balcony or pergola where inaccurate measures have been taken, timber posts or stairs immediately contact the ground.

Raised garden beds located directly up against the house wall and gardens wherever the soil bed covers up the weep holes. This produces direct access for termites from the soil into your home and should be avoided.

A leaking hot water system where drip pipes continuously drip against the wall edge. Termites are lured to this consistent daily water source, and it’s from here they go beneath the slab and appear through the gap or holes into the house.

Another cause in attracting termites are air conditioning condensation drip pipes. During summer, it’s regular to have your air-con running all day and night. The drip tube that continuously drips against the side of the wall produces a water source right on the house, which can draw termites.

Spas with timber framing can frequently act as an attractant because they blend moisture and timber. In particular, spas that leak, either onto the earth or over timber decking.

Poor site drainage around and under lowset homes, and/or inadequate subfloor ventilation. Ground water can sit and soak in and attract termites. Leaking or disconnected down pipes are also notorious for causing termite damage.

Found termites in your roof?

When you locate termites in your roof cavity, it’s a common mistake to assume they have accessed through gaps in roof tiles or breaks in the roof. In reality, the termites have quietly worked from the ground up. When they enter the roof, that’s their highest reach, so they will typically just keep feeding in this section until the destruction becomes apparent.

For instance, you may have an unnoticed leak in your roof that is dripping into the external wall cavity and wetting the slab and soil below. Termites will naturally follow the source of water. So, when the termites discover that moisture, they pursue the trail of water. Often termites go undetected because homeowners can’t see behind the wall sheeting.

Concerned about termites infestations in your home, constructing a significant addition or looking to buy or sell?

ClearCut Building Inspections in Brisbane & the Sunshine Coast have over 25 years of experience in the industry. We service all areas of Brisbane, including all major centres. With that much experience and knowledge of the building industry and the Building code laws and Australian standards, you know you’ll get accurate, comprehensive reports and the reassurance you need to protect your investment.
Give us a call if you require assistance or advice.