Found Termites In Roof

    Photo: Aleksey Gnilekov/FlickrTermites are insects, closely related to cockroaches, but behaviorally similar to ants and bees in that they organize into social communities with complex divisions of labor. Termite colonies range in size from as low as several hundred individuals, to as high as a couple of million. What makes termites unique is that they all feed on cellulose. Different species eat different types, such as leaf litter, soil, dung, and probably the reason that you’re reading this article: wood. The wood in your roof, that is.

    Danger of Termites in the Roof

    Oftentimes termites are silent house guests, living completely out of sight and showing no sign that they’ve taken up residence. Drywood termites -- the scourge of homeowners everywhere -- live almost their entire lives deep within the wood they eat, burrowing and tunneling in a series of crisscrossing chambers called “galleries.” If left untreated, the expanding termite infestation will weaken the wooden framing that supports the roof. This kind of damage can be costly to repair, but if it continues unfettered, it can also result in a potentially dangerous situation. However inconvenient it may be, if you’ve found termites in your roof, you’re going to need to deal with them right away.

    Professional Inspection and Treatment

    Professional inspection is always required to confirm whether or not there is a termite infestation, and if so, to determine the extent of the damage. From there, the way you proceed will depend entirely on the size of the infesting colony and the amount of destruction they’ve done.

    If the infestation is relatively limited, you may be able to spot-treat the affected areas using either chemical or non-chemical treatments. These include insecticide sprays, silica or borate dust, liquid nitrogen, microwaves, heat, or high-voltage electricity. Speak to a professional exterminator to determine which option may be right for you.

    If the issue is severe but contained, a professional can simply remove the ruined wood. The wood should be replaced with pressure-treated lumber, which is infused with insect repellents and will help prevent future infestations from occurring.

    Termite Tenting

    If the infestation is extensive, and if it’s in places that are difficult to access or replace (like eaves, attics, or wooden roof shingles) then fumigation is necessary. The entire home will be tented in heavy gas-proof sheeting, and then filled with insecticidal gas. The gas penetrates every nook and cranny, and kills every last termite. This is a hazardous process that requires a lot of time and money, but unfortunately, it’s often necessary to keep the problem from becoming irreversible or dangerous.

    Prevent Termite Infestation

    In the future, you can help to prevent termite entry by denying them access to the wood in your roof. Termites will not penetrate painted wood, so the best thing you can do is make sure that your roof is always well-coated in undamaged, un-cracked paint. As well, remove anything that may lure drywood termites into the vicinity of your home, such as stored lumber, firewood, or dead trees or shrubbery. And make sure that your attic windows and vents are fitted with bug screens, to deter termites from entering.

    Unfortunately, there is not an effective way to keep termites from penetrating under or through wooden roof shingles. Which is why, if you have a wooden roof, it’s all the more important to stay on top of these key preventative measures. If you can keep the wood painted, keep lures away from the house, and keep screens on all the windows and vents, then there’s a great chance you’ll never again have to deal with having found termites in your roof.

    Sayward Rebhal writes for

    Updated March 11, 2018.

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