Wood Destroying Organism Inspection – Termites
Commonly called a termite inspection is correctly called a “Wood Destroying Organism Inspection” or WDO inspection. And the termite report is aptly called “Wood Destroying Pests and Organisms Inspection Report”. Now you know why it is simply referred to as a termite report?
The inspection should cover not only termites but other organisms that cause the deterioration of wood. Other wood destroying organisms are some type of fungus or dryrot, carpenter ants, several specie of beetles (ex. powder post beetles), carpenter bee and some others insects. Visit this webpage
The inspection should also cover any condition that can lead into an infestation.
Moisture is the most common problem. Commonly controllable moisture conditions which would foster the growth of a fungus infection materially damaging to woodwork should be reported. A good example is a leaky shower pan or toilet. Optimum living conditions for subterranean termites are met when the soil under structures are damp. It is not uncommon to see deteriorated wood or signs of subterranean termites under bathroom areas that have been leaking for some time. It is always a good idea to make sure that there are no water leaks under the house and sprinklers are directed towards your lawn and not towards the house.
Faulty grades (when the top of the foundation is less than 6 inches from the earth) is also a common condition that can lead into an infestation. The usual culprit are unsealed planter boxes, meaning the earth of the planter box is in direct contact with the exterior wall. When water is poured in the planter box, the exterior siding will absorb the moisture, leading water into the wooden members within or attached to the wall. Another condition to look out for is when the grade slopes toward the foundation where rain water can collect alongside the foundation. Again, subterranean termites love damp soil.
Thick vegetation close to the exterior wall of the house call also encourage moisture buildup. It is always a good idea to have adequate clearance between the vegetation and the exterior wall.
Earth to wood contacts are avenues for subterranean termites to the structure and should be corrected. Most commonly seen are in deck structures, posts under the house, and sometimes wood sidings (specially in older houses).
Since subterranean termites continuously forage for food, cellulose debris under the house are a readily available food source. Cellulose debris are basically pieces of wood or those material that are made from wood, example cardboard. Any cellulose debris of a size that can be raked or larger has to be removed. If practical, the removal of tree stumps and wood imbedded in footings (usually form boards when concrete for the foundation is being poured) in earth contact shall be reported.
Inaccessible areas also have to be called in the inspection. Various conditions can render an area inaccessible. Most common are garage areas where storage is kept against the walls. Cabinets and shelving built along the garage walls will limit the inspection in these areas. Inaccessible areas are also those areas that can be a health hazard to the inspector. Although uncommon these days, attics with asbestos insulation are considered a health hazard. Likewise a hot attic specially in the summer months is considered an inaccessible area.
Areas where there is a need to dismantle, deface or to impractically remove some components of the house such as carpeting, are also considered inaccessible. Tight areas such as crawlspaces with less that 12 inches clearance from the bottom of the joist to the ground is another example of an inaccessible area.
And last but not least, shower pans have to be tested for leaks. Again, water intrusion is the main concern. Basically, the drain of the pan is plugged. Then the pan is filled with water up to about 2 inches deep for at least 15 minutes. The pan is observed from under the house for any leakage and fungus infestation.
So there you have it! A termite inspection report can cover a lot of things. A breakdown would be:
Other wood destroying organisms such as beetles, ants, fungus, etc.
Conditions that can lead into an infestation.
Earth to wood contacts.
Removal of cellulose debris.
… and of course, termites.
NOTE: This article was intended as an overview only and thoroughness of the subject matter is not the main objective. It is always recommended to consult with a licensed inspector for more details.