Yes – absolutely. Especially in older Arlington homes. Just a couple of weeks ago there were termites and termite damage found in one of my listings. A year ago there was no trace of termites in that same Arlington home. In the sales contract in Arlington, VA it is seller’s responsibility to exterminate and repair any termite damage. It will cost my clients over $1,000 to get rid of the little wood destroying critters and repair the damage they have done. So yes – you absolutely should worry about it.
Termites need moisture and cellulose (wood, plant material, paper) to survive. So you need to take these steps to minimize termites ability to locate moisture and food around your home.
Problem: Wood in contact with soil provides termites with ready and unobservable access to food.
1. Keep all wooden parts at least 6″ above the soil.
2. Keep mulch levels several inches below the siding and wooden parts of the structure.
3. Avoid or minimize use of wood mulch next to the foundation.
4. Remove dead trees, stumps, and roots near the structure.
5. Never store firewood, lumber, or paper against the foundation or in the crawl space.
6. Remove wood debris and form boards.
Problem: Moisture accumulation near the foundation provides water needed for termite survival
1. Grade or slope soil away from the foundation.
2. Divert rain water away from the foundation.
3. Divert lawn sprinklers and irrigation water away from the foundation.
4. Promptly repair leaky faucets, water pipes and air conditioning units.
5. Use mulch sparingly (no more than 2″ is recommended)
6. Keep plants and ground covers 3-4 feet away from the house foundation.
Problem: Poor ventilation in crawl space provides water needed for termite survival.
1. Cover approximately 75 percent of the soil surface in the crawl space with a vapor barrier (4-6 ml polyethylene sheeting).
2. Install 1 square foot of vent opening per 300 to 500 square feet of crawl space area (when using a vapor barrier).
3. Install 1 square foot of vent opening per 150 square feet of crawl space area (without a vapor barrier).
4. Enhance cross ventilation.
5. Remove any vegetation covering vents.
Problem: Hidden termite access
1. Install trellises and trim plants so that they do not contact the house.
2. Do not build flower planters against the house.
3. Regularly inspect cracks or joints in concrete slabs for evidence of termites.
4. Install metal flashing when attaching porches or decks (even when using “treated” lumber) to an existing house.
5. Remove mulch that contacts siding or obscures a clear view of the foundation.
6. Never install foam board insulation (polystyrene) below grade.
You can hire a termite company to do regular inspections and help you minimize the risk of termite infestation. Your house is one of the largest investments of your lifetime – you should not take this issue lightly.