According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), termites cause approximately $5 billion of property damage every year. However, much of the damage occurs inside the walls or the foundations of structures where it cannot be easily noticed by casual observation. The first signs of termite damage include soft or spongy wood inside or outside of a home, mud tunnels or tubes stuck to the walls, blistering of wood and dark spots on walls, ceilings or floors made of wood. In rare instances or in the early spring, winged termites may also be found flying around areas that are damaged but display no visible traces.
Most damage-causing termite species live underground and make their way into structures by digging subterranean tunnels. Once they find wood, they begin to eat it and extend the tunnels into the larger building. The wood that they eat and the tunnels they dig weaken the structures and break down the barriers that protect the materials from the elements. The wood may eventually become malformed from the pressure or weight of attached materials, or it may sag and fall from the effects of gravity. In addition, once a structure has been compromised, water may enter through the termite tunnels causing additional damage.
Many people believe that their homes cannot be damaged by termites because they are not made of wood or do not have any exposed wood. However, this could not be further from the truth. Termites are relentless in their quest for food and have been known to damage plaster, drywall, mortar joints and even metal siding. Very little can stop termites in their search for wood. The most effective, and sometimes the only, means of controlling termites is to hire an experienced termite control specialist.