This is a fearful question many homeowners ask when they realize that these insect pests are a problem on their own property. Unfortunately, there is no pleasant answer for this. The damage can be extensive. And don’t assume this couldn’t possibly apply to you because you live in an urban area. Even big cities like New York have termite damage problems, as Long Island and Nassau county pest control professionals know all too well.
Termites eat wood. They don’t just create tunnels or build nests; they actually chew up and devour the wood of your home. That means the damage will continue to increase indefinitely as long as they are living in your home. It also means that they can do damage even if they are not actually living in the wood directly. The nest may be outside; the termites are just travelling to your house to feed.
As they tunnel and eat, they leave any pieces of wood filled with holes that make it look like Swiss cheese. Because they don’t like to be exposed to the light, the termites often don’t eat right through to the outer surfaces of the wood. In other words, there can be a lot of damage in a piece of wood even if the outer surface seems untouched. It’s all going on deeper inside.
Any wood is fair game to a colony of termites, so that means undisturbed wooden furniture can also be targeted if the termites have access to it through the wooden structure of the home. That is, furniture that is up against a wall or sitting on a wooden floor can be a potential food source for these bugs.
Termite damage in structural beams can weaken the house to the point that it becomes a real safety issue. The same can be said of wooden floors and stairs. Window sills and door frames can lose their strength or shape, leading to improper closing. Leaking roofs can be a problem if the termites are chewing holes in the eaves or wooden shingles.
Not Just Wood
And though termites will feast mainly on the wooden elements of your home, they can also do a lot of damage to unprotected paper products (like books) and some kinds of insulation. They have even been known to attack the vinyl in outdoor pool liners, though that’s certainly not as common as the usual wood damage.
They will also chew on the paper covering on drywall (sheetrock) but they won’t eat the plaster core. Actually, finding odd holes in your drywall that don’t go past the paper can be a good sign of termite presence.
Treatment of Termites
Now that you know what kind of damage termites can do to your home, you’ll want to know the right steps in handling an infestation. Small groups of insects may be dealt with using store-bought insecticides, providing you can find where they are living in your home. Destroying outside nests can be helpful too. Otherwise, call a professional. The potential risk of damage is too great to ignore.