Has the house got termites or old termite damage?

Timber Pest Inspections or Termite Inspections involve finding termites and their damage. Termites are quite hard to find as they don’t walk around like common ants, they hide inside the timber. There is a process to find them and we are qualified pest inspectors and have all the latest and greatest equipment to assist us.

Firstly, we scour the yard looking in trees and timber garden sleepers, sheds and carport posts, anywhere that has timber.

Secondly, we tap all internal timber for hollowness caused by termites – door frames, window frames, skirting board bench kickers and exposed beams. We also tap timber floor frame members whilst under the house – joists, bearer and timber stumps if applicable.

Thirdly, we then carry out moisture readings on all internal perimeter walls and in all walls in wet areas – termites emit a fair bit of moisture and a moisture meter can detect these abnormal moisture readings.

Finally, if we think we have a problem we can also utilise the Testo Thermal imaging camera that may detect heat in a wall cavity which may be a termite sub nest and then we can use the Termatrak meter which can detect termites moving behind walls – see attached picture.

What is the purpose of pest inspections?

The purpose of a timber pest inspection is to locate timber pest activity in accessible areas of the home including the yard, sheds, carports, garages, fences and the like and then provide recommendations on treatments to eradicate and also preventative maintenance to keep them away.  Timber pests include the following:

  1. Termites (not dry wood termites – they’re in upper north areas of Australia)
  2. Borer
  3. Timber fungal decay (rot)

There are a number of species of termites that exist in Melbourne and the common one we see is the Coptotermes (we call them Coptos) which are the second most destructive termite in Australian. Eucalypt tree areas are their favourite. They can form secondary or ancillary nests (away from the main nest) in your walls and ceilings.

Termite Damage

Termites are very destructive to homes throughout Australia, including Victoria. Some statistics state one in three homes has termites which means you have them or one of the homes either side of you has them. From our experience about 1 in 6 homes we look at has termite damage or a live infestation, either in the yard, fences or the house itself.  This finding is still something to be concerned about and a termite inspection is essential in our opinion.

Just a Building Inspection or should I get a termite inspection?

The Victorian Building Authority (formerly the Commission) has a list of councils/municipalities which are termite designated areas. For example, the City of Bayside is not listed as a termite prone area and we have found termites in Bayside on numerous occasions so this is not 100% reliable.

For your peace of mind you should have a termite inspection carried out on any house you are contemplating buying.

A common misconception from a lot of my clients who call is that a brick house or a house on a slab is immune to termites. They are wrong. We come across a lot of homes with termite infestations that are brick and built on concrete slabs. We have found them coming up through plumbing penetrations (gaps cut into the slab to allow for waste from showers/kitchen etc.) in the middle of the home and progressed into the roof frame.

The Pest Inspection

The timber pest inspection involves using tools to try and locate them as they are not like house ants that walk around the house on the paths at your home. They come from the ground, build protective mud tunnels up to the timber so they can walk around in these tunnels safe from predators. Very rarely will you see termites unless you put your hand or foot through the timber, roll over a garden sleeper or kick open an old tree stump in the yard.

During the termite inspection we timber test or tap all the timber in and around the home trying to find hollowness. We use a moisture meter to find excess moisture on your internal wall which may indicate termites and we have a termatrac meter which can detect termites walking around behind the wall.  We also use the testo thermal imaging camera which can detect larger termite sub nests in wall cavities.

Termite damage

Termites obviously like timber and if an infestation is at the home it may cost in excess of $50,000 to rectify the damage. We have found termites at a house inspection in 2008 that cost the house owner $145,000 to rectify.

Areas Termites Like

There are certain conditions around homes that make the house attractive to termites. We will tell you about these and give you recommendations for reducing the risk of a termite infestation. These conditions, called conducive conditions, include the hot water unit overflow dripping away, leaking plumbing, down pipes not connected to storm water (flowing out to garden or under home) timber garden sleepers, damp soil in the sub floor, tree/leafy environment and the list goes on.

Termite Inspections look at:

  • Live termites in gardens/trees/sleeper.
  • Live termites within the house, garage, shed, bungalow.
  • Past Termite damage.
  • Borer Damage.
  • Timber fungal decay.
  • Conducive conditions for a potential termite infestation.
  • Recommendation on what you need to do in the future to prevent termites.
Termite Inspectors Experience

It is important to get an experienced and qualified professional to inspect for termites. For close to 10 years Mr Inspector has been attending not only pre-purchase building and pest inspections for potential buyers but also when home owners think they have a termite problem Often Mr. Inspector is called by local builders who come across what they think are termites while renovating a house. Most people don’t know enough about termites or have not been adequately educated or trained and because of this we have attended situations where they believe they have a termite problem when it has turned out to be power post borer or plain timber fungal decay.

Termite Inspections Frequency

Yearly inspections are recommended in some circumstances but where numerous conducive conditions exists or past termite damage is observed the frequency of inspections should be more frequent. Give Mr. Inspector a call for any Termite advice. We do not carry out chemical treatments of termite control solutions as Mr. Inspector believes this is a conflict of interest.