Termites – tiny monsters inside your home
A few weeks ago, I was trying to open a door that leads outside from a downstairs guest bathroom and found the deadbolt was seized. As I struggled with, and eventually destroyed the deadbolt, I realized that I had probably opened this door only once or twice since the house was built nearly ten years ago. In fact, I couldn’t recall the last time the door was opened. As worked to get the door open, I noted a weak spot in the pine stair tread that I had used as a transition piece leading from the door threshold into the room.
As I pressed with my thumb, I found the wood was paper thin in a small area and I realized that this was either evidence of rot, or the work of wood destroying insects. Given the location, I was sure it was the latter.
I dug into the wood with a screwdriver and my concerns were quickly confirmed. I grabbed a crowbar and hammer and removed the piece, only to find the 2 X 4 under it had been chewed away and now had the structural integrity of balsa wood.
I sawed out the afflicted wood and checked the wall cavities on either side. While the plate had been destroyed, the termites had not made it into the studs, nor had they found the outer pressure treated 2 X 10″ that frames the door edible. They had also been deterred by the glues in the 3/4″ OSB subfloor.
I treated the entire area with a termite pesticide foam, and replaced the affected wood with pressure treated 2 X 4 and pumped several tubes of liquid nails in on either side of it to help fill any voids and ensure a better seal.
I finished the job with a new pine stair tread (shown below) and then caulked and patched the minor damage to the edge of the sheetrock. A bit of sanding and a couple coats of paint and it will be good as new.
I inspected the inside of the foundation but found no termite trails, so I conclude that they came up from under the concrete slabs of the back porch area. I sprayed this area and refilled the perimeter bait stations with fresh bait / pesticide.
I’ll take this as a lesson – the exterior of the home being 10″ concrete had lulled me into a false belief that termites would not find a way in to the interior wood members of the house. I will be more vigilant in checking the bait stations and spraying the perimeter more regularly.