Is there a possibility that some of that wood may still have active termites?

Q: I bought some “no warranty” wood from a popular wood flooring store. It was advertised as damaged w/ split, knots, damaged grooves and burns. I bought 15% extra for waste. I’ve noticed that some pieces have obvious termite damage. Should I be concerned? Is there a possibility that some of that wood may still have active termites in it? The description they gave never mentioned termite damage.

A: I wouldn’t take a chance. Call in a pest extermination company for an assessment.

Looks like something has burrowed in

Q: We have laid an oak hardwood in our living room. We notice some areas with a little residue, where it looks like something has burrowed in it. What would be causing this and can we fix it? Is there a bug that burrows in wood floors?

A: Something burrowed into your floor? Does it look like someone drilled a perfectly round hole? Post hole beetle. It depends if there is only one or many. You will have to draw it out somehow and get rid of it. You may have to call in fumigators for an opinion.

Follow-up Q: Can fumigators kill them? Yes, there are holes.

A: Yes, I believe they can handle it. Call a company and ask. I called them post hole beetles. I think the correct term is powder post beetle.

Small holes appearing over the past several months

Q: I’ve got a new construction home in Dallas. My family room has solid oak flooring over slab. In one plank are small holes appearing over the past several months that are about the size of a medium sized nail head with what appears to be saw dust surrounding it. My guess is that I have termites or some other infestation in that plank. Can you suggest a couple likely culprits that I can investigate before calling my builder?

A: I had a dining room set which had the same type of hole develop in several places on a lower rung of one of the chairs. It looked like someone drilled a hole with a tiny bit. It turned out to be a post hole beetle. Just one, but he made a couple of holes. It doesn’t sound like termites. They usually eat the interior and leave a thin skin at the top or bottom. I would suggest poking a tooth pick into each hole and if he is in there it will likely prompt him to come marching out.

Termites at several places in the fascia board

Q: I live in Southern California where the fires are. Last week while having the fascia board and under-eaves painted, I discovered there are termites at several places in the fascia board and in the rafters. I had 2 different POCs inspect the house and they both concluded that the house has termite problem.

The 1st one suggests Fumigation ($1600), but didn’t find any thing wrong in the attic or crawl space, though he said there are sign of dead termites (last fumigation was on 1996).

The 2nd PCO suggests patching the fascia boards and treatment under 1 bathroom and a wall in the house for $1200; when I asked how much it costs for Fumigation, the answer was $1500 flat. The damage is not that bad since the structure is still sound. I decided to have the house fumigated, but have 2 questions on what to do:

(1) Should I patch the damage in fascia board and under-eaves BEFORE or AFTER the fumigation? The painter told me it’s better to patch all the damage AFTER the fumigation so that some of the poison can seep better into the woods, and he will paint the house about 1 week later. He already put a water-based prime-coat in it, except for the damage area. After the fumigation he will patch all the holes, prime these damage holes, then apply the finished coat (using Behr’s nanoguard paint).

(2) To patch these damage holes, I found 2 products:

A – Use Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty which is easy to apply and would last for a long time (as Durham’s claim it would be).

B – A person works at Home Depot and an exterminator (a retired PCO who fumigated my house in ’96) suggest using Epoxy, which requires mixing, and applying it over the damage area. They said this to prevent termite re-infestation after the fumigation because somehow Termites won’t like the taste of Epoxy if they ever try to get in the boards and under-eaves again, but unfortunately, they don’t remember the brand name of the epoxy they used a long time ago.

Thus, WHICH ONE SHOULD I USE?

For now, I bought the Terminate from Lowe’s and am trying to spray the liquid (not much foam as the label claimed, but only bubbles) into the damaged area. It’s extremely difficult, since all the liquid just spills to the floor (and my wife complains that she can’t stand the smell).

A: I would suggest you follow the advice of the company doing the fumigation. They should be the experts on the procedure / treating termites. It is my understanding that in treating termite problems a chemical is applied around and into the foundation of the building, preventing the termites from getting outside to the nest. Hence they die.

Could we use wood, (termite) damaged side up, as flooring?

Q: I have some old 1×12 pine paneling that I am going to use as flooring with a varathane finish. We are going to do some distressing to it. My question is: Some of the wood on the side we will use has termite damage. There is no termite activity. Could we use this termite damaged wood, damaged side up, as flooring with a heavy varathane finish, or would it create problems? We already have some worm damaged wood in doors we are using. We like the look. How might we prep the termite damaged areas prior to finishing?

A: If the termite damaged area is sound other than tunneling, I don’t see it to be an issue. You might choose to apply some filler to these areas. Timbermate is the most robust wood filler I’ve ever used.

You might want to consider an alternate finish such as this penetrating tung oil product. Also, if you were going to stain this floor, adding the stain to this finish is a brilliant way to stain pine. http://www.waterlox.com

Two termite damaged boards

Q: There are two lines of what appears to be termite damage, on just two floor boards. Can I just use wood filler for these?

A: I would recommend taking the boards out and replacing them. You might be surprised. Termites have a way of eating the inside of a board, leaving only the outer skin intact. You might find in removing these 2 boards that a few others also warrant replacing.

Related Q: My house is about 65 years old and is treated for termites twice a year. My wood floors are staring to dimple in the the slats. I know it is termite damage. I’m just not sure if this damage is old or new. Any way to tell?

A: If this is fairly new damage you should be able to find the colony. I don’t understand how or why you need to have the house treated twice a year, and if so, why you would have termites now. They are suppose to drill holes outside the house and inject the poison. It prevents the termites inside from joining the nest and they die. If this is being done correctly, you should not have any termites.

Termite damage in crawl space

Q: I recently inspected a 50 year old house with original red oak flooring. We found extensive termite damage in crawl space. Some of the 1×6 pine subfloor was severely damaged (crumbling). Except for a few small areas the finished oak floor was in good condition. What is the best way to repair/replace the subfloor? Do we have to tear up the finish oak? Can the repair be done from underneath in 2-4 ft.height crawlspace? Do we need new subfloor between the 1 1/2inch floor joist and the finish oak? Can we just sister on ledger strips to the existing floor joist (treated) and add new subfloor between the floor joist?

A: If the termites snacked out on the sub floor, I would suspect the oak strip probably is somewhat spongy since it isn’t sitting on much. My gut feeling is that it is best in the long run to remove the oak where needed, remove the damaged sub and screw down plywood. Strange creatures. I just finished a job with termite damage. They pretty much left the soft woods alone and went straight for the Seaman Kent oak strip!

Termite Damage Pictures from a Recent Flooring Job

Pictures of termite damage from the bottom up:

Termite Damage
Larger Picture

Termite Damage

Termite damage pictures of the surface*:

Termite Damage

Termite Damage
Larger Picture

*It is possible to have termite damage, yet not see holes forming on the surface. See the articles we link to below for other signs of termite infestation.

The “leftovers” (wood residue, dirt, and excrement), which covered the entire subfloor:

Termite Leftovers

Yes, if your floor has been chewed up it’ll need to be replaced, after the termites have been taken care of. Be sure to take steps to protect your home from future potential invaders, even if the damage is old, and even if you haven’t had a problem-yet!

Here are a few informative links to termite related articles we’ve found online:
http://www.faceliftfloors.com/q-and-a/termitestermites.php
heimer.com
insects.tamu.edu
www.umass.edu…/controlling_ants_termites.html

Skin on wood floors and holes

Q: The wood floor in the home I purchased is about 20 years old. There are multiple places where the wood has simply “collapsed” as though there were a thin top layer of wood with space underneath that caved in/broke through, holes following the grain from 1/16 x 2 to 1/2 x 3 inch in size, and in most cases definitely not from loosened knots. The floor appears to be quite an amateur job, and I wondered if it could be simply poor quality wood, or termites, or some other problem. I simply cannot imagine a solid wooden plank caving in!

A: If you are telling me there is like a skin on the top of your floors and when you press on it it breaks and reveals tunnels…then, I would suggest you get a professional in to have a look. That does sound like termites. Not to be messed with.

Severe old termite damage

Q: After removing carpet on a 60 year old floor in an 11×17 room, about 15 slats show slight to severe old termite damage. I have had to call the exterminator in the past, but not for a couple of years. I plan on carpeting again, my question is: must the whole floor be ripped up, or can just the 15-20 slats be replaced?

A: You can change only the pieces involved. You might find more damage revealed once you start looking closer. Hopefully not, but termites tend to eat from the inside and leave a skin on the surface.

Related Q: Is there a liquid product that I can “inject” into holes drilled into floor boards that are a little spongy from some termite damage, that will harden them? Thanks.

A: There are injectable adhesives such as one from, I believe Bostik. If the damage is that bad, perhaps it is better to replace the spongy area with new wood.

Removing boards damaged by termites

Q: I would like to know how to repair a hardwood floor that has been damaged in places by termites. The floor is over 40 years old and was covered by carpet until recently. There are only a few boards that appear to be damaged. Can individual boards be removed and replaced?

A: Sure, it is no big deal to remove boards from the middle of the room. A mallet and sharp chisel will do in the absence of more sophisticated equipment. When you cut the new boards to fit, you will need to break off the bottom edge of the groove side of the boards so you can drop them in place. Also, you can glue them rather than use nails. I found a terrific adhesive at Home Depot recently. It is in a small squeeze bottle, made by Pro Bond. It’s a moisture cure polyurethane adhesive that gives terrific bond and can even be sanded and stained.

Tough to know in your case how extensive the damage is. Termite usually eat the inside and leave a skin so that my the time you realize they have taken up residence, the damage is done.