termite foundation damage

Contributed by: Doug Webb

Updated on: January 26, 2023

Termites are destructive insects, causing billions of dollars in damage each year in the United States. The most common damage-causing termite in the U.S is the subterranean termite. These termites typically gain access into homes and other buildings through the foundation.

A termite's appetite is restricted to the cellulose fibers found in wood and plant matter. Once they're inside a home, termites will seek out wood or other sources of cellulose to feed on, causing costly damages.

Can termites damage concrete or brick?

Although termites do not consume concrete or brick, they can gain access to a wooden substructure of a building via tiny cracks in the foundation or by tunneling over it. Termites can access gaps as narrow as less than 1/32 of an inch wide.

As a preventive measure, pest control specialists may treat soil that makes contact with a brick or concrete foundation. This can help prevent soil-dwelling subterranean termites from building mud tunnels that extend upward, past the foundation of the home and branching into the wooden substructure that provides them with life-sustaining cellulose. Even if your home has a brick facade, your joists, wall studs and floorboards are usually made from wood and floorboards may be made from wood, giving termites an ample supply of food – and potentially sticking you with the bill to the tune of thousands of dollars in repairs.

A majority of homeowners aren't taking precautionary measures to shield themselves from the potential expense of termite damage. This includes checking your home's foundation for termite damage.

Continue reading for a handy checklist to not only help you check your foundation for termites, but also protect yourself from infestation and damage.

Termite self-inspection checklist

1. Check for visual clues

Check for mud tubes along exposed foundation cracks, behind your siding or baseboards. In addition to looking for signs of mud tubes, listen for hollow spots in exposed wood using a flat-head screwdriver to tap on the wood.

Look for termite swarms. To tell the difference between termites and flying ants, take note of their antennae and wings:

  • Termites: straight antennae and wings are of the same length
  • Flying ants: antennae bent at a 90-degree angle and front wings longer than hind wings

2. Look in the right places

Certain areas of your home are prime locations for termite entry. Be sure to examine:

  • Cracks in your concrete foundation
  • Cracks in the basement floor where it meets the side of the foundation
  • Where the garage slab and house are attached
  • Crawl spaces
  • Dirt-filled porches

Do you own a brick house?

A brick house doesn't mean you're free from termites. Check along exposed slab foundation wall below brick or siding. Termites can travel behind the brick veneer, so you may never see them. Because the structure of your brick house is made of wood, termites can still damage the framing timbers.

3. Reduce the risk of termites entering your home's foundation

Keep the soil around your foundation dry.

  • Use proper grading to promote drainage.
  • Clean your gutters and downspouts to provide good drainage.
  • Fix leaks immediately.

Block the termites' access to your house by using cement, caulk or grout.

  • Fill cracks in your cement foundation. Termites can squeeze through an opening as small as 1/32 of an inch, barely wider than a human hair.
  • Seal openings where utilities enter your house.

Keep wood away from your house and away from the soil.

  • Plant trees or shrubs at least 24 inches away from your house and keep them trimmed away from the exterior wall.
  • Store firewood, lumber and mulch away from your house and off the ground.

4. Contact a termite specialist if you suspect damage

Do not disturb the termites by spraying them with an insecticide — that's a job for a professional. If you disturb them, the termites will likely move, making it more difficult for pest removal experts to evaluate the infestation when they arrive. You may not be able to locate the termites again until they damage more wood.

Contact a termite specialist for treatment. The technicians at Terminix can help eliminate termite colonies and protect your home from future termite damage. Schedule a free inspection today.

How to treat termite damage in the foundation of a home

Subterranean termites often access a home through its foundation. While there are plenty of DIY methods available, they can often fall short. A trained termite specialist will be able to recommend the most effective treatment methods needed for your specific situation.

Benefits of professional Terminix ® termite treatment

Termite foundation infestations can leave homeowners with expensive damage and treatment costs. An effective way to help protect yourself from the costs of termite damage is to schedule a free termite inspection.

After scheduling a free inspection with Terminix, a specialist will come to your home and inspect for termites and signs of damage. Depending on what is (or is not) found, your specialist may offer a treatment or protection plan that is customized to best fit your needs.

Termite damage costs can be overwhelming. However, you don't have to wait until you start to notice the signs of termite damage to act. By the time you notice these signs, extensive and expensive damage may already be done.

Termites Resources