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February 2011
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Termite Hunting

A recent project has me up close and personal with termites. We are cleaning up this property to sell it. The owner had lived here 30 years or so. Needs paint, carpet and some updating. This house also has subterranean termites. You cannot sell a house that has termites in Arizona. At All. There are really only two areas that will kill a sale in Arizona, Roofing and Termites. Especially if you get a mortgage. Crappy roofing invites damage from above, Termites from below.

It is almost gospel that in Arizona you will have termites. The question is when and what kind. This is one of those parts of ownership/remodeling where you call the professionals.
Here is a bedroom wall photo.

This is a termite infestation that penetrated the wall and was chewing on a wood picture frame.
Here is a photo of termite tubes in a closet.

This is a photo of the pony wall 3/4 of the length of the house away from the bedroom wall termite damage.

This is a closeup of the trim underneath the wood cap. Note the direction of the damage.

Jon from Bills Pest and Termite came by for the inspection. This was probably the most informative 90 minutes I have spent with any contractor in some time. I now know way more about termites than I did a few days ago. He was courteous, knowledgeable, professional and was happy to answer my questions and explain the process as we went along. Bills is highly recommended.

Having completed the exterior inspection we moved indoors.
In the garage the inspection revealed a couple of ‘tubes’. The black vertical squiggly’s between the floor and the bottom of the trim.

Pulling up the carpet in the bedroom beneath the wall damage revealed this tube.

Here is another photo showing the termite freeways on the tackless strips used to hold the carpet in place.

The reason that this is significant is that in re carpeting, most companies will just reuse the original tackless strips rather than replacing them. One of the reasons is that when they are first put down the concrete is soft,(relatively speaking) and has not had 30 or so years of hardening. Nailing anything to fully cured concrete without drilling is extremely hard.

Every bid that you will get on re carpeting will have a line on having to replace tackless over a certain length as an extra, because of the difficulty of putting down new strips. In the photo above you can see where this needs to be done because the termites have destroyed it.

Because of the nature of the infestation, they will be pulling the carpet back, drilling a series of holes through the slab inside the house, introducing the pesticide and then sealing the holes. So if you are not replacing the carpet, note that you will need to probably replace some of these. (this falls into the remodeling ‘surprise’ category as normally most folks would not think about this)

But Wait! Before I leave you I want to take you back to the pony wall.

Here you can see an angled shot of the damage on this trim.

One of the things I learned is that this type of termite only consumes the wood between the growth rings, which is why the damage runs parallel to the grain rather than across it like the dry termite.

Here is how these termites got to the wall.

There is a crack in the slab from the garage to this wall. You can’t see them in this photo but there are termite tubes in that crack.

Next week I will post the procedure, and move on.

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