Your home requires general maintenance and housekeeping to stay clean and free of problems. Your list of home management goals might already be long, but be sure to add checking for wood rot and timber pests to the list.
Wood rot comes in many forms, but it primarily occurs after moisture gains access to your home. Your home’s timber could be exposed to water in a variety of circumstances, including:
- Weather Exposure
- Plumbing leaks
- Flooding damage
- Foundational cracks
When moisture reaches the exterior or interior timber of your home, your home becomes susceptible to a wide range of unpleasant possibilities. Fungus may grow on the wet beams, or they may decay and weaken your home’s structure. Plus, because many pests and insects flock to humid and moist environments, these intruders present an additional, if not more serious, concern for homeowners.
As pests find damp wood, they may nest, feed and reduce the beauty and structural integrity of your home’s timber. Below you’ll find the three most common types of timber pests, along with effective solutions to prevent and eradicate each one.
Fungal spores or Wood Rot When moisture enters into timber, fungal spores will inevitably also enter. Continued wetting of timber will eventually cause the dormant spores to activate and start eating the wood. This is what we call Wood Rot.
This process accelerates and will cause unsightly damage to timber structures such as windows frames and doors. There are 3 main solutions to prevent this process starting: make sure all timber joints are water tight, the frame must be designed so that water runs off it, and thirdly that timbers are well painted. If the rot process has already started, the fungal activity must be cut out or stopped with an effective rot treatment, the damaged surfaces restored, and the causes of the water entry into the wood eliminated.
Termites or White Ants
Damp wood attracts these critters better than almost anything else. Some termites enter your home below the ground, looking for cellulose to munch on. Other termites will find ways into your home above the ground, usually led by a moisture trail of some kind.
Termites are the wood-eating enemies of your home’s timber structure. Signs of an existing termite presence include ‘mud tubes’, or small tunnels in the wood. You may also find small insect wings from time to time, which are a telltale sign of termites.
Solutions for termite infestations include fumigation and setting out special termite poisons or bait, which kill the pests within a short period. Of course, the best defence is prevention. Install proper drainage for dripping air conditioning units, drainpipes and other items that leave moisture trails to avoid attracting termites. You may also want to consider investing in a termite barrier to deter these unwanted pests.
Carpenter ants differ from termites because they bore into wet wood without necessarily eating it. These insects leave the timber-eating to their young. They create hollow nests in wood where they lay eggs. Later, the larvae hatch and eat their way out of the surrounding timber, creating larger trails than a termite’s mud tubes.
Carpenter ants often leave behind a trail of sawdust-like material called ‘frass’, which helps in detecting an infestation. When sprayed on the main nest, insecticide can be an effective way to rid your home of these pests. However, you may have to investigate interior timbers through drilling or wall or floorboard removal to discover the location of the main nest.
Beetles are also woodborers that tend to search out older homes and timber. Of course, new timber can also become an inviting beetle home when it has been exposed to moisture.
As these insects bore into the wood, they lay eggs that hatch after the gestation period. Beetle larvae are larger than those of carpenter ants, so they tend to eat more than ant larvae too. Timber softened by boring and decay provides the perfect shell to nourish the larvae as they begin their life cycle.
Because of their size, beetles leave behind a large trail of tunnels in affected timber. While you may not be aware of carpenter ants hatching beneath the surface, the beetle larvae are far easier to locate due to their size and their impact on the timber.
In some cases, particularly with woodborers such as beetles and carpenter ants, the best way to eradicate the pests is by removing any damaged wood. Removal and replacement of rotted wood are also viable pest prevention options if pests have not yet invaded the area.
Be sure to check your home regularly for dampened or damaged wood to avoid the presence of timber pests. Consult with a home restoration expert if you notice pest in your home’s timbers.