How do Sub Termites Enter a Slab Home
A common question I’ve often been asked, “Do subterranean termites infest homes or structures built on slab foundations”? The answer is Yes. So how do they get in a home constructed on a cement slab? Here’s how they do it.
6 Slab Subterranean Termites Entry Points
- One of Subterranean termites favorite modes of slab entry is by, building a tunnel out of surrounding dirt particles traveling up the outside foundation wall from ground level up to a crack or fault in the siding or brick. They pass through this opening and arrive inside an exterior wall cavity, wall studs and wood bracing becomes their food. If the wood is damp, maybe from a leaking window termites will not have to travel all the way back down to their colony nest for water and can stay longer to gather more food. These tunnels are normally visible and are one sign of termite infestation that anyone could find if it were there and you were looking for it.
- If you have a termite infestation in an outside wall but there is no tunnel visible the sub-termites could be entering from below ground level in the expansion joint between your slab and a brick veneer. Usually you don’t know you have a termite infestation until you find termite damage because the sub termites are entering hidden from view.
- Subterranean termites can also enter through a settling crack in the slab itself. In this case if you have carpet you won’t see them and they could end up anywhere in your house before you know it. I was on one job where termites actually ate a grading stake that was left in the slab by the builder and infested a bathroom down the hall almost 25 feet away. We had to remove the carpet to find the entrance point. Treating the hole was simple with termiticide then filling the hollow with concrete did the trick. It took two 2 hour trips to find their entry point and to get those termites under control.
- I found another infestation in a slab room addition where the homeowners had installed a window A/C unit and braced it with two by four framing. Termites entered the 2 x 4s and into the window frame. Wood to ground contact is more common on homes with crawl spaces, but many homes have wood decks that allow entry. Wood decks attached to slab homes tend to be lower to the ground because a slab is built closer to the ground, so the decks are sometimes built directly at ground level with little or no clearance for inspection. I would suggest a poured patio unless the outside grade slopes down and away so that you will have enough clearance t crawl under the deck and inspect for termites.
Garage door openings tend to be constructed very near the garage floor slab and the poured drive-way. In almost all cases there is an expansion joint between the floor pour and the driveway.
- Slabs wrapped in Styrofoam insulation are really an invitation to sub termites for hidden entry. I examined a house in Lagrange, Ga, and the homeowner she could hear something in the wall I searched the area just outside of the supposed infestation and found nothing. She insisted there was something there, so I can back the next day. After scratching my head I thought the only way to determine if she was right or not would be to remove the drywall and take a look. We did and she was absolutely correct. Subterranean termites were everywhere, damaged wall studs, paper backing on insulation and I still couldn’t find out how termites were getting in. I was outside scratching my head when I noticed a competitor drive by and it just so happen to be the owner of the largest termite company in Lagrange, Ga. He sat in his truck while I asked him what the problem could be. His answer was quick and to the point. It seems a builder built some experimental houses on monolithic slabs in this neighborhood and put the outside wall insulation down past the siding into the soil. I had never seen or heard of this practice before. He assured me if I used my pocket knife to trim back the exposed insulation I would find the termite tunnels, so we did and we found them. Completely hidden entrance point. Lesson learned. The Styrofoam not only hid the termites from view it also insulated them from any termiticide application.
That’s just a few common ways termites have entered slab constructed homes. There are always other ways, after all; we are dealing with a live enemy and they adapt to new circumstances. If you have experienced sub termites in your slab home, please comment below. I’d love to hear about it.
- Sub termites can and will enter any wood framed structure in heavy termite pressure regions of the US. It’s just a matter of time and whether you have sever conditions conducive to sub termites infestation. Do a preventive treatment and don’t worry about sub termites.
- Many slab homes are now covered with Synthetic Stucco and those homes can have real subterranean termites problems.