They may be small, but termites are hungry little critters that can cause an incredible amount of damage to your home.
The small white insect has the ability to chew its way through wood, and while tiny as individuals they live in highly organised colonies of a million or more, and together they can cause considerable structural damage to your home.
Termites are better known for the damage they do to buildings than people but the cost of said damage can be enough to make a homeowner feel very ill indeed. Industry organisation Archicentre Australia says inspections are a thorough and vital tool to help prevent termite damage to homes.
While some suburbs are more at risk than others, all homes - old or new, in established suburbs or new subdivisions - are susceptible to termite infestation, and the aftermath of wet conditions may create ideal conditions for these insect pests to breed and explore for new food sources.
Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev said if caught early, termites can be effectively controlled before they cause damage that can threaten the integrity of any home.
"Residents should keep their eyes open for signs of termites, such as discarded wings from swarmers inside the house, but some of the warning signs, such as bubbling paint, strange bits of mud in plasterwork or disintegrating wood, may appear too late to prevent serious damage," he said.
"Residents should make provision for regular property inspections by experts and, if identified, the termites need to be eradicated by experts."
There are effective measures you can take that will reduce the risk of a termite attack on your home, these include:
- Do not store untreated timber such as firewood up against the home. Keep them a good distance away and ideally store them off the ground on a metal frame.
- Termites need a ready water supply so find and repair any water leaks you may have inside or outside of your home. Make sure air conditioners, hot water systems or leaking taps are not dripping into the soil.
- Ensure your home is well ventilated. This prevents moisture and is less attractive to termites. Brick homes have weep holes to help with ventilation - keep them free from obstruction.
- Ensure that the timber posts of deckings, pergolas, carports etc are placed on steel stirrups to break timber contact with ground areas.
- Use termite resistant materials such as treated pine for garden sleepers, fences and decks.
- Homes with a concrete slab should ensure the exposed slab edge remains exposed as this forms part of the physical termite barrier.
- Clear any dead trees or old wood stumps from yard.
- Check your foundations for cracks and other termite entry points.
Mr Georgiev said it was certainly not recommended to ignore termites, to leave the problem to someone else by selling the home or to try and remove them yourself because if disturbed they would move to another place in the house.
"The sooner they are removed by a professional, the more chance there is of removing further risk of damage to an owner's home and that of their neighbours' houses," he said.