The best ways to keep termites at bay

If left unchecked, termites can cause serious damage to your home and possessions. Here’s how you can potentially help keep your home free of these destructive pests.

The best ways to keep termites at bay

Termites are part of the natural decay system of woodlands. When their habitat is disturbed, they often move into houses. Fortunately, you can take steps to keep termites out of your house or deal with them if they are already inside.

  • Have your house inspected by a licensed pest controller – preferably one who is environmentally aware.
  • Make sure there is easy access to all concealed areas.
  • Look for mud-covered trails from termite nests (sometimes concealed under trees) to food sources such as verandah posts, sleeper retaining walls or the wood inside your house.
  • Regularly check for signs of termite activity, such as springy floors, hollow-sounding wood and discoloured paint.
  • Listen carefully for sounds of activity near timber structures. Termites feed inside wood and when they are well entrenched it may be possible to hear them, particularly late at night when there is less ambient noise.
  • Don't let damp spots develop near your house, because termites find damp soil appealing. Fix a dripping air conditioner, an outlet from the hot-water system or a leaky outside tap by catching water in a container and regularly emptying it onto the garden. Check that downspouts direct water away from the edge of the house.
  • Make sure the house sub-floor area is adequately ventilated and that any air vents are free from obstruction. Increased moisture levels and fungal growth attract termites. If necessary, install extra ventilation.
  • Don't allow wood of any sort (even firewood) to be stored near or under your home, or close to any timber structures.
  • Don't build soil up against the house or around timber structures, such as fences. Raised soil can block ventilation holes or damp courses, allowing termites to find a safe passage to floors, beams and other internal woodwork.
  • Don't disturb an active termite nest. If you suspect you have active termites, don't churn up their nest or they may flee, making their nest difficult to find. Instead, call an expert.
  • Let your neighbours know when you are treating termites. Ideally, they should treat their houses at the same time.

Termite prevention in new contruction

If you are building a new house, there are several preventive measures that you can take to minimize the risk of termites.

  • Ask your builder about termite regulations for buildings in your area.
  • Before building, obtain advice from a certified pest controller on preventive measures.
  • Install non-toxic physical barriers, such as graded stone or a termite-resistant membrane.
  • Lift wooden posts from ground contact with metal stirrups.
  • Fit brick piers and other sub-floor constructions with ant caps and termite barriers.
  • If necessary, lay ag-pipes to ensure good drainage around the site. These pipes have holes that drain water away and prevent pooling.
  • Make sure your builder factors in adequate sub-floor ventilation.
  • Wherever possible, build in access to concealed areas.
  • Organize the removal of tree stumps and roots from the site. Consolidate the soil before pouring the foundations to minimize cracks in the concrete slab; termites don't eat concrete, but they can enter timber walls through surface cracks.
  • After construction is complete, clear all leftover timber from the building site. Don't use it as landfill.
  • Avoid CCA-treated timber. These timber products have been banned in some states and regions, so check with your local authority. Ask your builder to use timber that has been treated with a non-arsenic preservative. Alternatively, choose termite- and rot-resistant hardwood for construction.

Termites can pose a threat to your home if not dealt with appropriately. However, with the right preventive measures and prompt action at the first signs of termite activity, you should be able to keep these troublesome pests at bay.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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