Termites and Fungus Damage and how to Get Rid of the Buggers – On the House

Termites and Fungus Damage and how to Get Rid of the Buggers

By on April 15, 2014
termites

Question

I have termite and dry rot damage to the foundation of my front porch and its surrounding support walls. My house is two stories and the problem area is made like a closet or storage area under the porch and stairs. A relative started the work, but stopped because he was afraid the porch might cave in. However, my relative will do the work if he can get directions that a layman can understand on how to make the needed repairs according to the city code. Also, if possible, I would appreciate any information that might do more to secure it against the “big earthquake” yet to come. I am a disable head of household and can’t afford to hire a contractor to repair the damage.

Kevin

Answer

Naturally, the safety is most important, and we will get to that next. Our other major concern is the termite and fungus damage. Termites rarely attack just one portion of the home. If it is apparent that they exist anywhere you should certainly check every location under your home. Look along the inside surface of your foundation wall for tiny “mud-tubes” which traverse from the earth adjacent to its base to the wood members above. These are termite tunnels and are the link the critters use to get from the ground into the wood members of your home.Step one is to scrape all the tunnels away from the foundation, step two is to replace all infested wood members and step three is to treat the soil and wood with a pesticide. Use a putty knife or scraping tool to rid yourself of the tunnels. No special technique here except to insure their complete removal. Infested wood is soft to the poke. Use a knife or an ice pick. Forcing the pointed implement into the wood in several places to locate damage. Complete replacement of damaged members of wood is the only sure way of getting rid of the tiny pests. Completely treat all 6 sides of every replacement piece of wood before installation. Remember, wood siding may also have to be replaced. Test the siding in the same fashion as the framing members. The termite “poke test” will also reveal otherwise invisible fungus damage.

After the work is done an extremely thorough cleanup is absolutely necessary. Cellulose debris (paper, wood etc.) attracts termites to the surface like a mouse to cheese.

Do not treat the earth in the subarea with the pesticide until all you work under the house is entirely complete. The pesticides which are used to eradicate termites are extremely dangerous to humans. For information on which pesticide to use and how to apply it contact the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs Structural Pest Control Board, 1430 Howe Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95825 or call (916) 561-8708. Make sure to advise them that your are a disabled head of household. Otherwise they might recommend that you hire a termite contractor.

As to the danger of collapse, no concern on the part of your relative could be more significant. Shoring up the floor framing members with temporary bracing is an absolute must. Taking shortcuts here could be a prelude to a funeral. Work on small areas. Don’t try to replace everything at once. And use heavy timbers for supports. 2x4s are not heavy enough.

KCBS radio offers a free guide to earthquake retrofitting which is quite good. Write the station at 1 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco 94111, for a copy. Take your time, do the work in the order outlined here and don’t stop until all the damage is removed. Nothing can be more devastating to a home than termite and fungus damage. You have your work cut out for you. Good luck!

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