Termites are perhaps one of the greatest threats homeowners face. In the United States they cause over five billion dollars in damage annually. That's more than all the fires and storms combined. For many homeowners it's not a question of if they get termites, but when they get termites.

How to Tell if I Have Termites

Termite infestations can be very hard to spot. Termite workers are generally only 1/4" to 1/2" inch in length. The easiest way to spot them is if you spot a swarm of small winged insects anywhere on your property. Or if you see the piles of wings they leave behind. Another easy sign to look for is mud tubes climbing the foundation of your home. The termites use these tubes to protect themselves from predators as they travel between their food source and their nest. Some other common signs of infestation include;

  • Discolored or drooping drywall
  • Any wood that sounds hollow when tapped or is crumbling or damaged
  • Piles of termite pellets, which resemble piles of salt or pepper

How to Prevent Termites

While it is impossible to totally eliminate the threat of termites there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk. Termites like moist environments. Some of the things you can do to help prevent this are

  • Repair leaking faucets, water pipes, and A/C units.
  • Make sure your gutters are clean and leak free.
  • Properly grade your yard so water runs away from the foundation.

You can also help prevent termites by insuring they have no easy access to food. This can be done by

  • Keeping firewood, lumber, and paper away from foundations and crawl spaces.
  • Getting rid of stumps and other dead wood from near the house.
  • Keeping any wood attached to the house at least six inches away from the soil.

Even if you take all these steps you will of course still run the risk of termites. If you see any signs of termites be sure to call a professional to come and inspect the property.