First, here are some of the conditions that attract termites to your home:
Soil: Most termites are subterranean, meaning that they build their colonies in the ground. They love the soil and build elaborate tunnel systems, called galleries, extending up to three feet below the surface. Termites will often use this versatile building material to create mud tubes leading from their underground colonies to above ground food sources, like the wood in your home.
Wood: Termites will consume any material that contains cellulose, and since wood contains a great deal of cellulose, termites devour wood voraciously. If a single piece of wood touches the ground, be certain that a colony of termites somewhere will know about it. Although some subterranean termites will consume other materials like vegetation, dung, and humus, their primary source of food, and their favorite, is wood.
Water: As with most living things, termites generally cannot survive without a source of water present. Whether in the form of a leaky faucet or the natural precipitation process of rain, termites will always seek some source of moisture to survive.
And here's what you can do to protect your home from termites:
1. Identify and fix all water leaks in your home, both internal and external. As mentioned above, termites need water, and it does not matter where they get it. If the water source comes from your home, all the better for the colony. It means they do not have to work as hard. Eliminating their water source removes one of the three requirements for survival.
2. Remove any brush or heavy growth from around your home. Vegetation can create areas of intense moisture, which is necessary for colony survival. Termites like it wet, so try and disappoint them as much as possible.
3. Eliminate any standing or pooling water from around your home.
4. Store all excess building materials and firewood away from the house. Remember that wood is their primary food source. Scrap wood touching the ground is an open invitation to hungry termites. If your property is not large enough for wood storage away from the house, create barriers beneath the wood to prevent direct access to the termites. Thick concrete slabs or heavy duty metal stands can be used to raise the wood off of the ground.
5. Use treated lumber for any wooden structures that will have direct contact with the ground. The chemicals in treated lumber do not guarantee that termites will not invade the wood, but they can act as a deterrent for decks and patios made out of treated lumber. Home improvement centers now offer concrete supports that raise the wooden support beams for decks and patios off of the ground. This would be a great way to avoid wood to ground contact.
6. Avoid using mulch near your home. Mulch provides two things to hungry termites: a food source and a water source. The qualities of mulch that make it attractive for use in the garden are the very qualities that attract termites. If mulch is placed near the exterior of your home, it is only a small step for a colony to move into your walls. As an alternative to wood mulch, try using one of the newer rubber mulches now available at your local home improvement center. They have the look of mulch and the benefits of mulch without providing the risks.
7. Never bury waste lumber or wood scraps in your yard. It acts as a magnet to termites and directs them to your property.
8. Remove any dead trees, old stumps, or roots in your yard. As these items decay, they attract termites to the area by providing a food source. When the food is gone, the termite colony will look for new sources of food. This includes your house.
9. Seal any cracks or holes within the foundation of your home. This will help prevent easy access for wandering termites.
10. Keep all gutters and waterlines clean of debris. Clogged gutters and waterlines leak, creating pools of water close to the house.
11. Make sure your home is properly ventilated, including your attic and internal crawl space areas. Adequate airflow prevents the buildup of moisture needed by termite colonies.
12. Periodically, get your home inspected for termite damage. A once-a-year inspection can save your home with early detection. If termites are not found in the home, the trained pest control specialists can at least offer recommendations to help you prevent an invasion. They may catch something you missed.
If these steps fail, call a pest control specialist. Happy hunting!