Brick House with Termite Damage

Brick House Termite Damage: Essential Guide

The Full Guide to Brick Home Termite Damage

When it comes to proper pest prevention in a brick home, it’s important to know what to look for. So, I did some digging to find out everything I could about brick home termite habits.

So, can termites damage a brick home? A termite’s diet consists mostly of wood, making the wood frame in many modern brick homes the perfect place to chow down. Unfortunately, the brick veneer serves as the perfect hiding place, leading termite damage in brick, stone, and stucco homes to often go undiscovered until major problems arise.

Just because a home is made of brick, does not exclude it from termite damage. Wood elements still exist in the walls, roof, and floor system that, if damaged, could compromise the home’s integrity and lead to thousands of dollars in repair costs. Luckily, there are many preventative measures that are effective for avoiding termite damage and a variety of ways to tell if your home is at risk.

Why Brick Homes Are Still Susceptible to Termite Damage

Termites in brickLike most homes, brick homes are constructed using wood. This may come as a surprise to some, but a modern brick home does not rely on bricks as a structural material at all. In most cases, a brick exterior actually just means the home has a brick veneer comprised of a single layer of bricks fastened to sheeting on a wood frame.

On top of that, many of these “brick homes” only feature this brick veneer on the front façade, making them no more effective in termite prevention than a home with standard siding.

Older brick homes will sometimes contain structural brick walls made up of many layers of bricks, but these homes are not excluded from termite damage as they still feature many wood elements throughout. Beyond the frame, wood flooring, trim, furniture, and even drywall are all at risk of termite damage no matter what type of home you have.

You may think you are at less risk if your home is constructed on a concrete slab, but this can unfortunately make things worse. Concrete itself may be impenetrable for termites, but slab homes are bad about holding moisture beneath them, creating the perfect breeding ground for termites. In addition to this, the slab will more than likely develop small cracks over time and the termites will venture through right on cue.

The fact of the matter is that homes with brick, stone, or concrete facades can actually be more conducive to termite damage due to the fact that these veneers make it much harder to notice the pests. This design can lead to years of undetected termite residence and unprecedented damage that only gets noticed once the problem is major enough to be seen.

Even if a brick home is free of exterior cracks and holes and is generally sound, it is still at risk of termite invasion. Termites can venture in on furniture, decor, and firewood and make their way into the home’s wall without ever having to tunnel in from outside. There is even a possibility that termites existed in building materials during the home’s construction, renovation, or repairs.

How Termites Enter Brick Homes

Termites and other pests cannot simply walk through a solid brick wall. However, a minuscule crack or hole is all that it takes to offer easy entry. Holes drilled for plumbing, electrical, phone, and internet lines offer plenty of space for termites to pass through. Worn out weather stripping surrounding doors and windows is also a great access point for a variety of pests.

Ways to Prevent Termites in Brick Homes

Example of termite damageThe best way to avoid termite damage to a brick home or any home is to be proactive in preventing the entry of termites altogether. Once they get in, termites will continue to damage a home until there is either nothing left to eat, or they are eventually eradicated. Ensuring the roof, exterior walls, and foundation are all properly sealed is an easy way to prevent the entry of pests.

Like many pests, termites are drawn to areas that offer them a comfortable, livable environment with a consistent temperature and plenty of food. Some species are particularly drawn to moist areas, so repairing leaks and diverting water from your home is imperative in the fight against termites.

If your home has a history of termite damage or these practical solutions are not helping to deter the pests, more drastic preventative measures in the form of chemical deterrents and other professional services may be the necessary next step.

Common Items That Attract Termites

Stacked lumber, firewood, cardboard, rotten stumps, and dense vegetation can be the start of a termite infestation getting to your home. These things are just a few examples of common items that often surround homes and act as a gateway to termites.

Once termites establish residence near the home, it’s only a matter of time before they begin to explore the home itself. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep items that would attract termites a good distance from the home.

Mulch is a major attractant for termites as it possesses the exact living conditions they are after. Besides being comprised of wood, mulch provides a consistently moist environment that insulates the termites from extreme temperatures.

Because of this, it is important to leave a gap between your home and the mulch in your landscaping. River rocks make a good filler in this gap and help with draining moisture away from the home.

How to Detect Termite Activity

Termite damage can often be easily noticed by simply paying attention to visual cues around your home. Sagging walls, floors, and ceilings, as well as cracking on the interior or exterior walls can be indicative of compromised studs, joists, or other structural elements.

Though holes in wood could be an obvious sign of termites, a more likely, but subtle indicator is hollow-sounding wood. If you expect termite damage in an area, tap on the surrounding wood trim and door jambs and listen for varying hollow sounds.

A surefire way to tell if you have termites in your home is by seeing them. Often misidentified as flying ants, termite swarmers can typically be found in early spring branching out of their homes to mate and form new colonies. This results in residents finding dead or living termites scattered around the interior of the home.

What to Do If You Find Termite Damage

When you find termite damage, the first thing to do is determine if it is old damage or new damage caused by an active termite population. If you do come across an active population, call a pest control professional to take a look and inform you of your options. If you are able to deduce that the damage is definitely old, just make a call to a contractor to assess the damage. Damage to structural elements in your home should never be ignored as they are a safety concern and tend to lead to more damage occurring.

Termite Considerations When Buying a Brick Home

When purchasing a home, especially an older home, it is a good idea to opt for a full termite inspection regardless of if you see visible termite damage or not. The last thing you want after moving in is to deal with high-priced repairs that happen as a result of termite damage on someone else’s watch.

A pest control professional will know exactly where and what to look for and will oftentimes find things that a standard home inspector may not notice.

Does sawdust mean termites?

If you’re actually seeing sawdust, this may just mean you forgot to clean up after a weekend DIY project. Termite excrement, or frass, does look similar to sawdust and it is wise to take a closer look to help determine what you actually found.

It is also important to note that carpenter bees and carpenter ants create similar excrement and finding frass does not immediately mean you have a termite problem. However, if you have reason to believe what you’re seeing is in fact frass, call a termite professional to take a closer look and inspect the area for other signs of termite residence.

What do I do if I suspect termites?

There are many products on the market and plenty of DIY solutions for handling a termite problem. However, it may be a better idea to leave prevention methods to pest control professionals. Chemicals and poisons can be dangerous if used improperly, especially when children and pets are near.

Sometimes, it takes a trained eye to locate termite damage that could otherwise go unseen. Hiring a professional to inspect your home for the presence of termites and taking the recommended precautionary measures can save you thousands of dollars in the future.

Are termites the only pest I should look for?

Termites are one of the most common bugs you should protect your home against. Unfortunately, they are not the only problematic pest that preys on your home.

Other wood-loving insects such as carpenter ants, carpenter bees, bark beetles, and powderpost beetles pose threats to wooden structures. If you see pests that resemble these species, you should take note and act on it, especially in the case of repeated sightings.

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Matt McWilliams
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Hi there! My name is Matt and I write for Expert Home Report. I enjoy writing about everything related to home improvement, home tips and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.