Six millimetres may seem too small to cause a problem in a 2,000 square foot home, but multiply six millimetres by 50,000 to a million – the size of a termite colony – and you have one massive conflict.
Subterranean termites first appeared in Toronto about 80 years ago and are still wreaking havoc on GTA homes. These termites live in the soil and build mud tubes up the side of the house into the structure so they can feed off the wood, then return to the underground colony. “Termites have to retain a great deal of moisture,” says Dan McCabe, Vice President of Magical Pest Control (www.magicalpest.ca). Although they eat wood, termites don’t leave any sawdust in their wake. The only way to tell if you have a termite infestation is if you see these mud tubes that they build up the side of the house. If you have a dry-walled basement, you may never see that your home’s main supporting beam is being attacked by termites since the mud tubes would be built under the walls. Depending on the size of the colony, it can take three to seven years for structural damage to become apparent to the human eye.
Since most damage caused by termites is invisible, McCabe recommends homeowners in areas where termites have been found get a canine inspection. Termite-sniffing dogs can detect if your home has an infestation. Without an inspection, McCabe says homeowners often have no clue they have a termite problem until structural damage becomes apparent.
To treat termite infestations, McCabe says spraying on the structure won’t do any good. “You have to drill through the concrete slab on the floor and inject into the soil beneath the building and on the outside of the building,” he says. This laborious process creates a chemical barrier that protects the structure from termite infestation and eliminates the colonies. The barrier should last for 10 years provided the home has proper drainage that moves water away from the home. “Anytime you have wood contacting soil, that’s asking for trouble with termites,” says McCabe.
McCabe recommends all homebuyers get a termite inspection before purchasing the home and neighbours in areas where termites have been found conduct frequent inspections to allow for treatment before the infestation gets out of hand.