How to DIY Home Termite Inspection

home termite inspection

How To Do A Home Termite Inspection

This post covers in the entire home for Termite inspections. These are professional tips and are meant to help you understand where you should look for termites. If you are not fit enough to do these inspections you may feel more comfortable hiring a pro to do it for you. Some companies offer free inspections.

At the First Sign of Termites

Termites building a mud tube from the base of a toilet.Do A Home Termite Inspection – The appearance of winged or swarming termites is often the first indication of a termite problem. Although the swarm poses little or no immediate danger to the structure, it is a warning that your home is under attack by termites, and the homeowner should make an effort to locate the source from which the swarm is emerging. Now is the time to make an inspection of your home. If you are not able to do this termite inspection or are not satisfied with your results, you should call a professional termite company to do the termite inspection for you.

During my termite inspection of a slab constructed home, I found active termite tubes at the base of a toilet. The first thing that comes to mind is maybe termites are entering through cracks or openings in the slab around the pipes. This home has a termite infestation, this home will need treatment. I’ll check the outside foundation wall. details below “outside termite inspection”.

Make your termite inspection annually. Termites left to do their work without detection over time can cause severe damage to your home and your pocketbook.

Check all places where wood is near, or rests on the ground. Weatherboarding, wood supports, basement window frames, door casings, sills, etc., can be checked for soundness by tapping lightly with a small hammer and/or probed with a screwdriver. If the hollow wood is found, and it is the result of a termite infestation, the soft grain portions of the wood will be eaten away leaving the hard grain sections, making the wood look a little like an accordion.

1. Outside/Exterior – DIY Home Termite Inspection

You must look for “signs of termites”. Sub-Termites are subterranean creatures, they live underground, so they won’t be out in the open simply crawling around. Start your exterior home termite inspection by checking the base of your foundation wall all the way around the structure, take your time and really look. You are looking for mud tubes or mud between construction joints. Areas to focus on are where porches meet the foundation walls, around chimneys and planters that are against the foundation wall.

  1. Wood to ground contact is always a good place to start looking for termites. While you are out and about, note if fences are touching your structure. Termites can get into your fence and come straight over to your home, by-passing liquid or bait termite treatments.
  2. If firewood is closer than 12 inches from your foundation,  I would suggest you move it, I have my firewood stacked a good 30 feet from my house, and yes, there are termites in it.
  3. Wood mulch is good termite food. Do you have wood mulch in your flower beds next to your foundation wall, if so I would replace the mulch with another attractive bedding like pine straw, rocks or some ground cover plant?
  4. Do you have wood touching your home and the ground? (wood steps, crawl door frame, porch posts, wooden decks, stiff knee supports). Wood-to-ground contacts should be removed or broken by insulating the wood on the ground with a concrete footing. Wood contact should be insulated at 6 inches from the soil.

2. Interior/Indoor – Termite Inspection

During your inspection, you must look for “signs of termites”. Termites are subterranean creatures so they won’t be out in the open just crawling around like other insects.

Check the outside interior wall all the way around the interior of your structure, you are looking for mud tubes or mud between building materials such as between the baseboard and sheet rock.

  1. As you are checking the outside perimeter wall looking at the sheet rock and notice any mud tubes or small dabs of dirt that shouldn’t be there.
  2. Look for damaged baseboard, window and door trim. Look for dirt-filled holes in sheet rock.
  3. Go into the kitchen, laundry, utility area and bathrooms and check under the sink area for mud tubes entering around pipes and wiring.
  4. Check bath traps, some bathrooms have bath traps. Open the bath trap door and look inside. Use a good flashlight and look to see if there are any mud tubes coming in around the pipes.

3. Attic – DIY Termite Inspection

While doing all of this don’t step through the ceiling! Be careful!

You must look for “signs of termites”. Termites are subterranean creatures so they won’t be out in the open just crawling around.

  • Get yourself a good flashlight and a screwdriver to use to probe the wood. You may want to wear a bump hat to protect your head, a dust mask, and gloves.
  1. Check around chimneys and plumbing pipes for termite mud tubes.
  2. Shine your light around and look at all wood members for mud tubes.
  3. Probe and sound, tap with the butt of your screwdriver, any wood that looks suspicious.
  4. If a hollow spot is found you can try to open the wood with your screwdriver. You may find termites at work, maybe not.

4. Crawl Space – DIY Termite Inspection

Looking for “signs of termites” during your termite inspection is what it’s all about. Termites are crafty and build their tunnels where they might not be seen unless you look thoroughly. You have to look hard and concentrate on what you are doing. You’ll also need to suit up for your inspection as your inspection might take you into areas where you might need protection.

home termite inspection gear


Dress for the occasion:

  • Hard hat, (optional)
  • long sleeve coveralls,
  • gloves,
  • safety glasses, (optional)
  • boots or old shoes and a
  • dust mask. (optional)

Equip yourself:

  • Good flashlight,
  • screwdriver for probing.

5. Crawl Space – DIY Termite Inspection

You must be in good physical and mental condition to perform this inspection. Enter the crawl door and be sure to prop it open. This will give you some ambient light. Some crawl spaces are tight crawls and very dark. If yours is like this you might be better off to call a professional exterminator to do this inspection.

  • I always start my inspection by heading around the foundation wall to the right.
  • Before moving forward scan the area where you plan to crawl for obstacles, dangers such as broken glass and other debris.
  • If all is clear move to your next position.
  • Since it’s not possible to do a good inspection while on the move. I crawl forward, stop and inspect. Move about 5 feet on each move in most situations.

Where to look and what to look for:

Look for termite tubes and mud tunnels.

  • Inspect the foundation wall,
  • then move your eyes up to the wood portions of the sills,
  • outside headers,
  • floor joists and
  • sub-flooring.

When finished with the outside foundation wall, move on to inspect each support pier.

  • Check around each one all the way around.
    • Make sure to inspect the wood above, sills, headers, floor joists and sub-flooring.
    • Look for termite tubes and mud tunnels.

Three Conditions Conducive to Termite Infestation These must be repaired.

WOOD TO GROUND CONTACT:: While you are making your Termite inspection also notice any wood to ground connections, (wood sitting directly on the ground with the other end touching the bottom wood portions of your home). These are extremely important to remove if possible. Using wood beams for support is a common practice. This is fine if your support sits on a concrete footing that can be treated around. If not, have the repair made right away.

EXCESS MOISTURE CONDITIONS:: While you are making your inspection note any water leaks from pipes. Moisture will draw termites. Having a water source near a food supply can accelerate termite colony growth and the damage they do before found and treated.

IMPROPER VENTILATION:: While you are making your inspection note whether or not your crawl space is properly ventilated. Having outside vents providing proper ventilation can improve the health of your wooden under structure. A good rule of thumb is to have ventilation on all sides. If you don’t have proper ventilation you may want to consider googling moisture control in crawl spaces.

Termite M.D. tipEliminating conditions that are conducive to termite infestation is as important as treating your home to eradicate an infestation or to prevent an infestation of subterranean termites. Take you annual home termite inspection seriously.

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About Mike Dukes 42 Articles
Founder and Chief editor of Termite MD, Pest, Columbus Georgia Online, Visit Historic Columbus and Stock Car Certified WDO Georgia and Alabama 1985-2013. When I'm not working on the Internet I love working in my yard.

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