Have you ever wondered if you should tent your house for termites? They are a thing here in California. Why? Well, we took lead out of our paint and turns out that the termites didn't like the lead either. So we started painting all our houses with unleaded paint and the termites went, Hey, guess what guys? Party is on. We get to eat all this free wood and it's everywhere.
So what are the differences between the termites? Because you're going to hear about termites whatever stage you're in. If you've already purchased or you're purchasing or you own, you're going to hear a couple things. There are wood termites, and they fly around a couple times a year. You will notice a couple times a year there will be a big exodus of them and they're all blowing around and then there will be die off, of them. Just flying around and, looking for places to go and eat. They probably can't decide which house to eat at. Just like we can't decide which restaurant to go to.
Another kind is the subterranean termite which live in the ground. And then they come up and they eat. They're the ones that do the little mud tunnel over to the house. They have a whole different deal. They live underground or in their mud tunnels. It was explained to me by a termite inspector years ago that they live about 30 feet under the ground and there's a bunch of old trees underground, especially here in Santa Cruz County. We were once fairly for forested, right? So, they're living down there and they're kind of hanging out and then they're coming, getting a little snack, going back and forth. That's why I think people misunderstand about termites is they believe that once you fumigate for them, they're not going to come back, right? There is no killing them off. There's just kind of keeping them out of your house for a while. Flying into your home or digging into your home they are always around.
If you have a lot of termite damage, just know that fumigating for the subterranean, is treating the ground, they put a substance in the ground to kill them in their tunnel and they bore in the holes around the house and put a treatment in the soil. Just know these guys will be back. I have an older house and I thought, I should tent it for termites, right? Because there are times when I really felt like there was a lot of them, I could hear them, and I'll explain a little bit about that later. But I really felt like I had no choice, I had to tent. And the thing is what I've come to understand, because I did find a sticker that my house was tented years ago, and I thought my house had never been fumigated. They’re, they're just eating away over decades.
No, it's been fumigated. It's just, there is still so much more yummy stuff that they've found their way back to. It has been tented, but I've got a lot of great wood. My house is old and their source is still there. So I have a lot of redwood framing. They don't like that, but there's a lot of other support wood that's just as yummy for them. And it's old. It gets like chocolate mousse texture for them. It gets, soft and yummy. Imagine another 10 years I might have to tent again if I don't replace the source. You could get a termite inspection and it has barely anything suggested work or repairs on it. And you notice it says they recommend a fumigation, and you are thinking, but, but there's only one small issue.
Well, they have to call it out because that one board that has that termite damage could actually just kind of be the gateway. And they termites are going into the house because the termite inspectors can't see in the walls. They just see them in that spot. And so they basically have to call out what we call a fume. So what do you do? If you don't think you want a fumigation, that seems like a bit much, you would just say, Okay, I want to replace that board and then see what happens. Or open it up and take a look and see how bad it is. It might be an old infestation, they might have moved on and there's just nothing really there to bother with. And then you're done. You don't have to tent or fumigate. We use that term interchangeably, tenting and fumigation. You could take that board off and think my gosh, these guys are going to town. We didn't see it anywhere else, but, but they're back in there. And then you decide to fumigate. Over my years I have seen termite inspections that have had like $30,000 to $40,000 worth of damage.
Nothing was ever done. Or more commonly there were leaks left unattended that created a soft wood that attracted the termites and then they ate there because they do love rotted wood. And a leak will get them there that much quicker. That's why your termite inspector will go underneath the house and look for leaks because that's kind of the beginning of that invitation of letting them come eat everything. We are not going to talk about beetles, but you should know beetles are something that also eats houses in Santa Cruz. It's a longer fumigation time. It's a bit more expensive. And those guys are veracious you can fumigate for them, and they are big on source too. So if you don't have the house tightened up enough, you may incur them in another five to 10 years as well.
For termites in terms of source and why I decided to fumigate was because we have a wall on one side of my house that after a rain and when the sun would come out, I could literally hear the termite eating inside the walls. The best thing would be really would be to take that wall out and then replace all that source wood, all the what's feeding them. It is not the redwood but supports. It's the other wood that's in there, maybe between the lathe and plaster or whatever. They are enjoying themselves. So for right now, I took out them for a while, but, it's possible that they're going to come back. It's an older home and there's still lots of termite food left.
When you're thinking about, tenting your house for termites, you really want to make sure that you understand the source. Just throwing a tent on doesn't mean that you're not going to ever have them again. You might want to make sure that you, you're paying attention to that report that tells you everywhere that they are. And then if you're selling, understand that buyers don't go, it's already tented and we're just going to move in and everything's great. Buyers tend to make up their own mind whether they want it fumigated or not. Sometimes they move into houses that, I look at the report and think, well, they got to do some work there. And they do nothing. And other times I sell houses that I look at the report and think there isn't much there, I wouldn't bother with that at all. And they're like, Yep, we're going to have it tented right before we move in.
As a seller you don't have to the home fumigated before sale in Northern California. As a seller you can, but it won't add a lot of value.
But consider dry wood termites, we'll use them as an example. They can get into a doorway, and they can get into the trim, and they can actually cause a termite inspection to look pretty bad. Maybe some repair work should be invested in that door. They would call out that fumigation because they don't know how far rot is but you could do the simple fix and take away some of the need for repairs or fumigation.
Buyers do like to see stuff fixed. So you could do that. And then also just remember, in Northern California as a seller, you're not required to fumigate a home. You are required to do termite work in Southern California, but not in Northern California. Overall, in California we are noticing that we're having more and more troubles with termites. And one of the big factors are we do not have lead-based paint anymore. If you want to talk termites or if you want to talk anything else, please reach out to me. I'd love to help you. And I do hope this helps you understand termites in California.
Posted by Michele Replogle on