The Why and the How of Termites in the home

When homeowners discover they have subterranean termites they often ask a couple basic questions.  “Why are there termites in my home?”  “How do they get in?”  Both questions have fairly simple explanations.

The why is that our homes are a perfect food source opportunity for termites.  Our homes are filled with cellulose (wood) material to feed upon including the framed wood, drywall paper, or even card board boxes.  Concrete slabs, block walls or other physical barriers are no obstacle for termites to navigate around.  Termites are accustom to navigating through soil around rocks and other natural barriers to find a food source.

In addition to a plentiful food source, termites also need moisture from the soil to survive.  Most homes have drip irrigation providing an abundance of moisture around the home.

The question of how they get in is based upon the construction of your home.  In the simplest terms, termites enter through small gaps or cracks in and around the concrete slab the house sits on.  Using the illustration example you can see termites enter through foundation gaps, plumbing protrusions, or even cracks in the slab.

      E termite copy

The construction type of the home will often determine where the termites are coming in.  There are two major slab construction types.  Newer homes typically have a monolithic slab, meaning the slab is a single pour or piece.  Older homes or large custom homes that have elevation changes or different levels will have a floating slab construction.  Floating slabs have a stem wall built first and the actual slab is poured or retained within the stem wall.  In essence the floating slab is two separate pieces, which leaves a natural opening for termites to enter through, requiring treatment on both sides of the foundation wall.  The Termite Treatment illustrations makes it easier to visualize.

Mono SlabFloating Slab

Termites will most often enter the at the foundation wall.  Termites will be traveling underground, bump into the wall and than travel upward searching for food.  Entering the home through a gap or natural opening.  Since Monolithic slabs are a single part slab, termites typically can only enter through the outside foundation where the treatment will be focused.  Floating slabs are a two part slab which allows access from the inside or outside of the foundation wall requiring treatment from both sides.  A Floating Slab treatment is obviously more costly to treat since they require twice the labor and chemical to treat.

If you have termites, don’t take it personal.  Your home is simply a viable food source that is ideally suited for termites.  Where termites enter is simply based on the construction of the home.  The good news is that elimination of these freeloading house guest can be done with the help of a licensed professional.  For treatment options, simply visit our termite page for more information.

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