The chance of your home being attacked by termites on the Gold Coast has been estimated as high as 1 in 3. Worrying though this is, it is even scarier when you realise that your standard home insurance does not provide cover for damage caused by termites. That’s why it’s important to have a termite management plan in place to protect your property.
There are 3 key elements to a successful termite management plan
- Make your home less attractive to termites
- Have regular termite inspections
- Install a termite management system
Making your home less attractive to termites
If you can remove moisture and potential termite food sources from around your home, and keep the perimeter and under house areas free from obstructions, you can make your home significantly less attractive to termites.
Termites love moisture, so keeping the areas around and under your home will dramatically reduce the chances of suffering a termite attack.
There are five key areas to focus your efforts
- Ensure drainage and ventilation around and under your home is adequate
- Fix dripping taps and leaking gutters
- Avoid watering systems immediately next to your home
- Ensure air-conditioning and hot water overflow pipes are drained away from the structure or into the storm water drain.
- Check bathrooms, kitchens & laundries for leaks and moisture
Termites eat wood and any cellulose material (such as cardboard and paper), so eliminating potential food sources is a key next step.
- Don’t use wood mulch or garden sleepers around the perimeter of your home
- Don’t store wood or cardboard boxes under your home
- Keep any firewood stored off the ground away from the house
Keeping areas around and under your home clear of vegetation and stored goods, will allow you to see if termites are building their mud tubes to try and access your home.
What should you do, to make it easy to spot termite trying to enter your home?
- The ground level around the perimeter of your home should be below the floor level. Homes built on a concrete slab should have a visible 75mm inspection zone around the full external of the structure.
- Avoid garden beds adjacent to the building, not only do they restrict inspection of the edge of the building, they are often an area of high moisture and the roots can create a direct highway into your home.
- Don’t store excessive goods in the sub-floor or roof void. Not only do termites and other pests like cardboard boxes, they prevent inspection of these critical areas and in the sub-floors, depending on how they are stored, they can provide a direct bridge from the ground to the flooring timbers – easy access for termites to enter your home!
Have regular termite inspections
Australian Standards, Governments and building organisations all recommend termite inspections at least once a year, but more frequently in areas of high termite risk. If a termite management system has been installed, annual termite inspections are required to maintain any warranty. Similarly, they are also required to maintain the warranty on new homes.
Termite inspections do not prevent a termite attack, but they will pick up signs of any activity in your home or surrounding property, as well as identify any conditions that may make a termite attack more likely. If there are signs of activity, it allows you to deal with any problems before significant damage is done. Correcting any conditions that make your home more attractive to termites is vital, as we have already discussed.
Getting a trusted professional to carry out a comprehensive termite inspection, often using specialised detection equipment, is a small annual investment to give you that important peace of mind.
However, to provide protection from termite attack is it necessary to install a termite management system.
Install a termite management system
Termite management systems are designed to prevent termites entering the building without being noticed; on their own they do not provide 100% protection against termite attack.
There are two types of termite management systems
- Liquid termiticide treatments to soil around and under the building
- Termite monitoring and baiting systems
Liquid termiticide soil treatment (termite "barrier")
Treating soil around and under your home (where a sub-floor exists) creates a treated zone (often called a termite barrier). Although this stops termites passing through the soil, it does not stop termites building a mud tube over the top of the treated zone. However, if they do this, they will be spotted and dealt with. This is one reason why termite inspections are still required annually, even with a termite treatment in place. Soil treatments generally can last up to 8 years.
Termite monitoring systems are different. They consist of plastic stations in the ground containing wood. Placed every 3m or so around the building, if termites are in the area, they will start feeding on this wood first, before trying to enter your home. This activity is picked up during the regular inspections – for monitoring systems, inspections are required at least every 2-3 months. If activity is spotted, termite bait (attractive termite food with slow acting insecticide) is added to the station. The termites feed on the bait, taking it back to the colony where it is passed on to their nest mates, ensuring the death of the colony. The colony is eliminated, providing lasting protection for your home.
Having a termite management plan for your property is a necessity in Australia, due to the high risk of a termite attack. It really should be viewed as a standard maintenance cost – just part of home ownership. Arguably it is more important than home insurance, as a termite attack is far more likely than fire, flood and natural disaster combined. Termite activity can go un-noticed for many months, causing significant damage which often costs tens of thousands of dollars to repair – sometimes the home even has to be knocked down!
Speak to your pest professional about your termite management plan today and protect your most valuable investment – it could end up saving you thousands!