A few years ago I was called out to investigate a termite problem in Toorak (Melbourne Australia). It is quite rare to have such an infestation in this part of Melbourne. Unfortunately no one is safe from any termite infestation. Termites can be hiding in timber that is bought at a timber yard. Every effort is made to treat timber to kill of any borers or termites. If a process is done incorrectly in the timber mill, then the problems do occur.
I heard of a roof which the roof tiles collapsed shortly after the house was completed. There were termites in the hardwood battens. The termites ate all of the timber and weakened the battens; this resulted in the roof tiles collapsing. Unfortunately the termites found there way to the neighbours house and started eating the walls and floors.
This home in Toorak, the termites ate a large area of the timber hardwood flooring. I had never seen such precision workmanship before. They ate the timber and all that was left was the film of polish. You couldn’t detect the damage unless you were looking for it or was probing the floor.
It took three days to take off the boards that were infected, and another two days to patch and replace them with new boards. While the boards were off, a Termite company came in and sprayed under the floor with a chemical that is specific for termite control. They proceeded to drill around the perimeter of the house a series of twelve millimeter diameter every one hundred millimeters apart. The majority of the house was surrounded by concrete. They pumped the same chemical into the holes which seeped under the house and became like a barrier to stop any future infestation.
In the past there have been a whole heap of arguments and concerns regarding the Chemicals used for the termites. The old ones have been banned as they have found they were good for killing the termites and also causing illnesses to the people using the Chemicals. These days the companies use environmentally friendly chemicals, they don’t have the same toxic power as the old ones. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Soil poisons are the least-preferred method of control as this requires much larger doses of toxin and results in uncontrollable release to the environment. Soil type, weather, and application techniques influence the mobility of insecticides in the soil; soil-applied insecticides must not leach through the soil profile to contaminate groundwater.
The whole house had to be re-polished; luckily the infestation didn’t reach any skirtings, architraves and doors. Luckily the home was double brick. The whole cost of fixing the problem was minimal compared to replacing walls, and all skirtings, doors etc. The client was extremely distressed and you cannot put a figure on the angst and stress over the whole situation. I suppose Builders are like nurses or Doctors who don’t seem to react to problems like someone who is experiencing it for the first time.
Here are some facts about termites I found interesting
Termites: sometimes known as white ants. They are found particularly in the subtropical and tropical regions, their recycling of wood and other plant matter is of considerable ecological importance, even though in our home we find them as pests. Termites build nests to house their colonies, in growing trees, inside fallen trees, underground, and in above-ground mounds which they construct, commonly called “anthills” in Africa and Australia, despite the technical incorrectness of that name. Termites usually avoid exposure to unfavourable environmental conditions. Termites are also considered to be a major source of atmospheric methane, one of the prime greenhouse gases.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE TRAINING TIP OF THE WEEK
Look up your area on the internet and find out if you are in a termite infested area. Or call a Building Surveyor to confirm. If you suspect you have damage, call an expert straight away.
There are physical barriers used today instead of spraying. There is a stainless steel mesh that is placed around all pipes penetrating your new ground concrete slab. http://www.termimesh.com.au/index.cfm
There is a plastic type flashing that is placed in between the brick mortar joints that have a chemical that deters termites from crawling up through the walls or floor slabs.
Sprays are used before any plastic is placed on top of the compacted sand for a concrete slab. This is more economical for those who can’t’ afford the mesh solution.
At the end of the day it is up to you to find all the solutions that you can afford or feel comfortable about.
Have a great week