NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Ask any exterminator and he or she will tell you the financial damage termites can do to your home. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) estimates termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage to U.S. homes annually, using their “saber tooth jaws” to feed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The group also says termites live in huge numbers, so two million in one enclave is not uncommon, the NPMA says.
“Termite infestations often go unnoticed until the destruction is extensive and costly to repair,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “Unfortunately, damage from wood-boring insects is typically not covered by homeowner's insurance policies, so it is crucial to take preventive measures to protect your home. It’s also suggested [homeowners] contact a professional to inspect for termites once a year.”
Here are five more pain-free steps you can take to keep termites at bay, and on a wallet- (and wood-) free diet.
- Inspect your home thoroughly. This won’t be free, but you should pay a good pest specialist to examine every nook and cranny of your home. He or she will look for rotten, weak wood, “mud tubes” (highways for termites) and signs that termites are out and about. Sure, it might set you back $100, but it can save thousands if you nip the termite problem in the bud in time. A good home inspection is the first step to getting that done.
- Steer water away from your home. Termites love water as much as they do wood. To keep them high and dry, install long, flexible gutters to your water spouts and aim the gutter extenders away from your house – six to 10 feet should do the trick, but the farther, the better. It’s also a good idea to keep soil at least one inch away from any wood portions of your home.
- Plug any holes. To avoid a termite infestation, seal all open fissures and cracks, especially where utility wires and pipes connect to your actual home.
- Check your firewood. Never stack firewood next to your house, and give any firewood you’re about to bring inside a once-over beforehand.
- Prune your trees and bushes. Make sure to keep all trees and bushes that could come into contact with your home pared back and as far away from your home as possible. Termites use them as bridges to a fat meal at home.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore a termite issue. That’s especially true in early spring, when Subterranean, drywood and Formosan termites begin to flourish.